news Samsung appears to be on the verge of launching a plethora of new mobile phones and tablets into the Australian market, with the Galaxy Note confirmed to be on its way, and 4G versions of the Samsung Galaxy S II smartphone and Galaxy Tab 8.9 tablet reported to be arriving shortly.
Vodafone this week confirmed via its Twitter account that it would launch the Galaxy Note in Australia. According to Samsung, the ‘phablet’s’ biggest features are its 5.3” Super AMOLED HD capacitive touchscreen WXGA (1280×800, 285ppi) display, which is good for playing HD movies. The device also comes with a stylus (S pen) that is possibly more responsive than earlier ones, making it easy for users from creative or business backgrounds to utilise it for work-related activities. The S pen works with dedicated apps such as S Planner and S Memo.
The Galaxy Note comes with an 8MP camera with 1080p video recording capability, Geo-tagging, face and smile detection, touch focus and image stabilisation. The device’s front-facing camera is for video calls. The Galaxy Note’s high-resolution display also enables comfortable viewing of PowerPoint presentations, Web pages, news apps and e-books, with minimal scrolling or zooming. The device is powered by a 1.4 GHz dual-core processor with 1 GB of RAM, and works on Android 2.3 Gingerbread. Internal memory includes 16 GB of storage, with up to 32 GB of expandable storage.
Meanwhile, local Android blog Ausdroid has reported that dummy models of the Samsung Galaxy Note, Samsung Galaxy S II 4G and Samsung Galaxy Tab 8.9 4G have come to Telstra retail stores, confirming previous rumours that Telstra will launch these devices shortly. According to Ausdroid, this indicates that advertising and sale of these three devices are very much in the offing. Gizmodo also reported that Telstra’s business catalogue now features the 4G Wi-Fi Hotspot to complement its current USB 4G device and the HTC Velocity 4G.
Samsung has been nipping at the heels of Apple’s iPhone ever since the launch of its Galaxy S smartphone range. The Galaxy S II features the Android 2.3.3 (Gingerbread) operating system customised with TouchWIZ GUI, a 1.2 GHz dual-core Exynos processor, a 1 GB RAM and a 4.3” Super AMOLED Plus display screen. Other features include a 21 Mbps HSDPA, an 802.11n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 3.0, DLNA wireless media streaming, and 16 GB internal storage that can be expanded with both microSD cards (up to 32 GB) and USB flash drives (using an optional USB OTG adapter). Samsung has included an extra-large 1650 mAh battery and the Exynos processor underclocks the chip when the device is idle.
Bonus software with the Galaxy S II includes the Navigon turn-by-turn navigation software, hubs for games, social networking, reading and music, Polaris Office, and basic photo and video editing apps. Kies Air allows for wireless transfer of content between computers and the phone via a browser interface. The free Samsung Dive service enables remote management options, such as tracking the Galaxy S II over GPS, remote lock and wipe, and the option to call the phone and access its call logs.
It looks like Samsung is preparing to launch a number of smartphones and tablets into Australia to take advantage of Telstra’s strong 4G network, as well as to catch up Australia with the rest of the world when it comes to some handsets, such as the Galaxy Note, which hadn’t launched locally previously.
This is both good news and bad news for Australia. The good news is that we’re getting new smartphones — and it’s good to see non-standard options such as the Galaxy Note available locally. It’s also good news, if it’s true, that several of these planned devices will support the burgeoning 4G standard which Telstra has already implemented and Optus and Vodafone are working on. Testing has shown that incredible speed benefits can be gained when you’re in a 4G-capable area.
However, there is also bad news. The launch of new Samsung smartphones such as a 4G version of the Galaxy S does bring higher speeds to Australians, but it does so by virtue of a fairly dated smartphone — the Galaxy S II — which launched some eight months ago locally. January and February are typically a big time of year for smartphone announcements. I’d prefer that we saw Samsung announce a new, upgraded model, such as the rumoured Samsung Galaxy S III, for Australia, rather than a speed-boosted version of an existing handset. Yet that is what Australia might get.
Image credit: Samsung. Opinion/analysis by Renai LeMay