AT&T has announced it is launching the Windows Phone 7-powered Samsung Focus smartphone in the United States on November 8 for $199.99—although, of course, that price requires a qualifying two-year service contract. The Samsung Focus i features a large 4-inch AMOLED display, a 5 megapixel camera with flash and autofocus, and of course all the features of Microsoft’s brand-new Windows Phone 7 operating system: full HTML Web browsing with pinch and zoom, Microsoft Zune service, Bing mapping, Microsoft Office Mobile, Xbox Live integration, and the Windows Phone Marketplace (which Microsoft hopes will soon be festooned with apps).
The Samsung Focus features the default WIndows Phone 7 tile-based layout that enables users to slide in and out of menus and selections, and enables users to easily configure their own start screens and applications for quick access—users can pack up to 256 live tiles on the start screen. Samsung has also added its own Samsung Now Hub, providing integrated access to news, weather, stock prices, and other info in a single location. And because the phone is on AT&T, it can also be used at AT&T’s nationwide Wi-Fi hotspot network.
The Samsung Focus features quad-band EDGE and tri-band UMTS connectivity, 8 GB of internal storage and up to 32 GB of removable microSDHC storage, Wi-Fi, assisted GPS, stereo Bluetooth 2.1, and the ability to record and play back 720p high-definition video. The 4-inch AMOLED display offers a native 800 by 480-pixel resolution, and Samsung says the Focus can get up to 6.5 hours of talk time and up to 300 hours of standby time on a single battery charge.
The Focus will go on sale November 8 at AT&T retail locations. Windows Phone 7 devices apparently rang up solid business on their debut in the United Kingdom, but it remains to be seen whether Microsoft’s latest smartphone platform will resonate with U.S. consumers—particularly after the spectacular flop that was Microsoft’s Kin phone series. However, with Windows Mobile 6.5 a now-moribund platform (that Microsoft is keeping around to appease existing enterprise customers), the Redmond software giant really has nothing to lose and everything to gain from Windows Phone 7—and the company unquestionably has enough money in the bank to keep launching phone platforms until it finds one people like.