M4650 "Multi-touch Phone"
By Cho Jin-seo
Samsung Electronics is launching its first touch-screen, full Internet-browsing mobile phone to occupy the domestic smartphone market before the arrival of Apple's iPhone here.
The Korean electronics giant said Sunday that it will start selling the M4650 ``Multi-touch Phone'' via LG Telecom at around 500,000 won, excluding rebates from the mobile carrier. The handset has a 2.8-inch LCD screen which doubles as a keypad, which is smaller than iPhone's 3.5-inch display and thus is used with a stylus pen.
``The smartphone market is getting bigger in other countries thanks to the development of the wireless Internet infrastructure,'' Samsung company said in a release. ``We hope that the Multi-Touch phone will stimulate the smartphone market in Korea as well.''
Phones with touch-sensitive screens are becoming ever more popular in the high-end market since the successful debut of the iPhone in the United States, where many people use it for listening to music, checking e-mails and for casual Web surfing.
Smartphones have been showered with so much praise and admiration that they may become the PC of next generation thanks to their mobility and wireless Internet capability. Apple was the first to implement the full-browsing Internet function into its iPhone. In an extravagant fashion, it was even lauded as the world's best invention of the year by Time Magazine last week.
In Korea, LG Electronics has pioneered the touch-screen phone field with the launching of Prada Phone earlier this year. But such phones are not as popular here as in North America or Western Europe because Korea's well-established broadband Internet network makes people less inclined to buy big phones with Internet functions.
As Samsung's phones usually are, the new Multi Touch phone looks less pretty, but performs more powerfully than most others. Other than the Internet capability, it can also play terrestrial DMB (digital multimedia broadcasting) TV broadcasting, and a hidden screen vibrator that gives a gentle shake whenever the screen is touched for certain key input, Samsung said. But the screen isn't capable of recognizing multiple touches unlike its name suggests, the company added.
The price of 500,000 won is also thought to be moderate since phone prices usually go down dramatically when mobile carriers begin to provide subsidies. For example, LG's Prada Phone was sold at over 1 million won when it was first introduced as a luxury good, but nowadays it is available at less than 100,000 won in multi-year contracts.