Samsung unveils updated Palm-based PDA phone

South Korea’s Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. plans to put on sale in the United States a new version of its Palm OS-based PDA (personal digital assistant) cell-phone handset in April. The company unveiled the new phone, which is smaller and lighter than its current model, this week at the Expo Comm Korea exhibition in Seoul.

The SPH-M330 is a trimode handset which will work on CDMA2000 1X (Code Division Multiple Access) networks. It also adds support for gpsOne, a hybrid service that combines signals from GPS (Global Positioning System) satellites and CDMA base stations to determine a user’s location. That information can then be used with software to display maps of the immediate vicinity of the user or provide location-based directory services.

A touch-sensitive, 256-colour, 160- by 240-pixel LCD (liquid crystal display) takes up a large part of the face of the device and doubles as both PDA screen and, when used as a telephone, an on-screen keypad. Other features include a 16-polyphonic-tone ringer, speakerphone function, infrared port, voice memo, voice dialling and support for an external camera.

Packing these features in, Samsung has also managed to reduce the size and weight of the telephone compared to the previous model. The new phone weighs 150 grams against 170 grams for the earlier model and measures 125 millimetres by 57 millimetres by 17.6 millimetres, making it around 20 per cent thinner while keeping almost exactly the same height and width.

Fitted with a standard battery, the SPH-M330 has a talk time of 4 hours and a standby time of 100 hours, Samsung said.

The company plans to launch the telephone with Sprint PCS Group, according to Sonia Lee, a spokeswoman for Samsung. Sprint already sells the current model, the SPH-I300, and is expected to begin selling the new version in April, said Lee.

The spokeswoman wouldn’t reveal what version of the Palm OS the device on show in Seoul was running and said this was likely to change by the time the telephone was launched.

The launch of the upgraded cell phone comes as competition is increasing in the Palm OS-based cell phone market. Until recently, Samsung and Japan’s Kyocera Corp. were the only companies selling such devices, but Handspring Inc. entered the market earlier this month with the launch of its Treo.

At the same time as unveiling the upgraded Palm phone, Samsung also took the wraps off its latest handset for the Korean market.

The SPH-E120 supports the CDMA2000 1X EvDO (Evolution Data Only) network that is beginning to be rolled out in South Korea and has data speeds of up to 2.4Mbps (bits per second). With a 260,000-colour LCD screen and built-in video camera, the handset weighs just 89 grams and measures 89 millimetres by 47 millimetres by 21 millimetres. Samsung has also thrown in its recently announced 40-polyphonic-tone ringer to make a richer, less electronic-sounding ring-tone than current models.

Samsung Electronics, in Seoul, can be contacted at