BARCELONA—Samsung today launched 4-inch and 5-inch competitors to the iPod Touch, essentially Android smartphones without the phone, and without the expensive monthly contract. The company is thinking of bringing them to U.S. shelves, an executive said.
The Samsung Galaxy S WiFi 4.0 and the Samsung Galaxy S WiFi 5.0 are pretty much Samsung Galaxy S phones with the phone removed. They both run Android 2.2 (with an upgrade to 2.3 coming), both have 1Ghz Samsung Hummingbird processors, both have 800×480 screens, and both have 3.2-megapixel cameras on the back and VGA camera on the front. Both devices connect to the Internet using Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, and both have Bluetooth 3.0.
Both devices will come with Skype and Qik Plus pre-loaded for VOIP calling and video chat from Wi-Fi hotspots, Samsung said. We’ve seen a previous iteration of the 4-inch model before, as the Samsung Galaxy Player. It’s sharp: a slim, white Android quasi-phone that does everything your favorite super-phone does except charge you an expensive monthly fee.
The 5-inch device is, well, bigger. It has a flash for its camera and uses a TFT LCD rather than a Super Clear LCD for its screen. The smaller device will come in 8, 16 and 32 GB models; the bigger one will come with 16 or 32 GB.
I liked the 4-inch model a lot more than the 5-inch unit. Next to its trim little cousin, the 5-inch device looked a little “for the vision impaired”—it showed the same number of pixels, but all the text was bigger and the images somewhat grainier. Five inches is also a slightly awkward size. It’s too big to fit in many pockets, but not quite big enough to offer the cinematic experience or large-scale Web browsing you get on a seven-inch tablet.
Overall, though, these are by far the most viable Android-based non-phone handhelds I’ve seen. With a smooth, clean experience, fast processors, sharp screens, GPS, and access to the Android Market’s 100,000-plus apps, it looks like they have almost everything we like about Samsung’s smartphones. I had a great time tapping around each device.
While the Samsung Galaxy Player never hit the U.S. under that name, Samsung is looking at bringing the Galaxy S WiFi both to big-box electronics stores and to wireless carrier stores in the States.
“It would be a natural product for channels [stores] focused on consumer electronics,” Tom Jasny, Samsung’s VP of wireless and broadband network systems said.