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Samsung readies Linux smartphones for Asia, US

Jan 10, 2006 — by LinuxDevices Staff — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 1 views

[Updated May 8] — Korean consumer electronics giant Samsung appears to be readying two Linux-based smartphones, one of which has been submitted to the FCC for possible distribution in the US. The SCH-i819 CDMA phone and SGH-i858 GSM phone share the same “slider” style case, and feature a QVGA (320×240) color touchscreen, bluetooth, IrDA, TV out, and microSD storage.

The SCH-i819 and SGH-i858 appear to be quite similar, except for the cellular radio technology used. The SGH-i858 is a tri-band GSM device that operates on 900/1800/1900 GSM frequencies, while the SCH-i819 is a CDMA/GSM device operating on CDMA 1x 800MHz/GSM 900/1900MHz bands.

Samsung announced the SGH-i858 in China in late October, listing the device among several planned “Tristar” smartphones targeting business users. It has submitted the SGH-i858 to the FCC in October. The SCH-i819 has not been submitted to the FCC.

The SGH-i858, front and back views

Both the SCH-i819 and SGH-i858 are “slider” phones, with the top half sliding back to reveal a hardware keypad below. One neat feature is an infrared port that, along with learning remote software, allows the phones to function as remote control devices for computing and A/V equipment.

SGH-i858 front and back views
(Source: Samsung's draft user manual. Click either to image enlarge)

A draft English-language user manual for the SGH-i858 suggests that it will include a Picsel document browser, email client, PIM (personal information manager), camera, video recording software, multimedia viewer supporting TV out, SMS/MMS client, and MahJong and “fruits cocktail” games. Other features include an alarm, world clock, calendar with “days elapsed” feature, calculator, units converter, Chinese-English and English-Chinese dictionary, handwriting recognition, and PC synchronization software.

Samsung is the world's 39th largest company, with revenues of about $72 billion, and profits of about $9 billion in 2005, according to Fortune Magazine's Global 500 listings. The company has not previously shipped a Linux smartphone, that we are aware of, although a Linux OS was created for its earlier SCH-i519 PDA phone platform (pictured at right) by embedded Linux house Mizi Research.

Mizi Research's Michael Lee confirmed that the new Samsung Linux phones are based on version 2.5 of Mizi's Smartphone Linux OS, which will also be used in another design coming soon. “There [will be] another handset with a little different UI soon,” he said.

Thanks to Eugenia Loli-Queru for calling this story to our attention. This story was Updated on May 9 to reflect that the CDMA/GSM Samsung phone is called the SCH-i819, not the SGH-i819 as originally reported by Mobile Review.

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