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Samsung reveals feature-packed SGH-i500
By: Larry Garfield, Thursday 13th March 2003, 18:15 GMT

Samsung's new SGH-i500 is the very first Palm OS smartphone using an ARM processor, and the first Palm OS 5.2 device. Also: it has a camera with flash, 32 MB of RAM, and J2ME.

PalmSource has been driving towards "convergence" devices and smart phones for some time now, and Samsung has decided to lead the pack. It's new SGH-i500, not to be confused with the previously announced SPH-i500 for the U.S. market, sets a number of new Firsts for a Palm OS device, and packs a number of features in as well.

Samsung's new SGH-i500 sets a number of Palm OS firsts
The SGH-i500 is a tri-band GSM/GPRS device running at 900/1800/1900 MHz. It's a flip-phone design, with the main screen and application buttons on the top half of the device and the number pad on the bottom half. That in and of itself is not very new. It measures 87 x 54 x 27 mm when closed and weighs 150 grams. What's new is that it's powered by an Intel PXA262 ARM-compatible processor running at a whopping 300 MHz, the fastest CPU of any Palm OS device yet announced. It's also the first Palm OS smart phone to use an ARM processor for the handheld side rather than a 68k-based Dragonball processor.

Using an ARM processor requires Palm OS 5, and in this case the SGH-i500 is the first device to be announced with Palm OS 5.2. Palm OS 5.2 includes PalmSource's new Jot-based Graffiti 2 handwriting system in place of the "classic" Graffiti, present on almost every Palm OS device to date. Graffiti 2 includes a new character set, and the ability to draw characters directly onto the screen. As a result, teh SGH-i500 does not have a Graffiti area.

Another key feature of the SGH-i500 is the built-in VGA camera. While not the first Palm OS device with an integrated 640 x 480 camera - that title goes to Sony - it does include a built-in flash where the low-res cameras on the Sony CLIEs did not. It also packs 32 MB of RAM and a 1100/1700 mAh battery. It has a 5-way D-Pad instead of a rocker, although whether it is the same design as the Palm Tungsten NavPad is unclear. There are two LCD screens on the device, one an external color Organic LED display 96x64 pixels in size. The internal main screen is listed on Samsung's web site as "162 x 176 pixels (324 x 352 support)". While the extra odd pixels are no doubt for the dedicated phone areas on the screen, it is unclear if the application area is then 160x160 or 320x320 pixels. Samsung representatives could not be reached as of this writing.

In addition to the standard Palm OS 5.2 software, the SGH-i500 also includes an MMS client, WAP 2.0 capable browser, and J2ME support. Java support has been very slow to come to Palm OS due to it's long history with the slower 68k Dragonball processors, but 300 MHz should be plenty fast for mobile Java applications.

Unfortunately the SGH-i500 is not expected to be available until third quarter of this year, and the price is not yet known.
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