Samsung Armani P520

It should come as no surprise, given the iPhone’s unprecedented launch hype and subsequent cult following, that there’s now no shortage of imitators copping off the phone’s smooth lines and touch-screen interface. While many of these competitors attempt to hit a lower price point for more mainstream appeal, Samsung’s Giorgio-Armani-branded P520 does exactly the opposite: targeting an even wealthier audience with an even bigger price tag.

The first product of a cooperative agreement between Samsung and the famous Italian fashion designer Armani, the P520 sports many of the same features and capabilities as its Apple inspiration, but manages to cut the size down significantly, to almost the footprint of a credit card. Unlike the 4.5-inch long iPhone, the P520 measures only 3.4 inches in its largest dimension, and manages to trim off size off both its width and depth as well. It also weighs only 85 grams, far less than the iPhone’s hefty 135 grams.

Samsung Armani P520
Image Courtesy of Samsung

All that shrinking brings the screen size down to 2.6 inches, almost a full inch smaller than the iPhone’s, and with less resolution as well. This could be an issue for ham-fisted users who already find fault with the iPhone’s tiny virtual keyboard and other buttons, but it’s otherwise a necessity to make the phone more pocketable. The phone’s entire rectangular face is dominated by the screen, with only buttons for starting and terminating calls to steal away any potential screen real estate.

In terms of capabilities, the P520 closely mirrors the iPhone. It’s a GSM phone with EDGE Internet connectivity, a Wi-Fi radio, and multimedia support. Of course, it’s missing Apple’s signatures multi-touch interface, but Samsung has done its best to mimic the OS with an icon-based interface of its own. The P520 even manages to one-up the iPhone in some categories, with a built-in FM tuner and 3.15-megapixel camera.

One of the phone’s most glaring shortcomings: internal memory is limited to a meager 50MB, so if users really do want to take advantage of the phone’s media capabilities, they’ll need to invest in a microSD card first. This might be a bigger issue if the phone weren’t already targeted at an upscale audience, who will likely find the additional price of the card to be a drop in the bucket.

The Armani P520 retails for €400 in Europe where it originally debuted, but is also available through importers in the United States for around $770. While that may make it well above the current going price of an 8GB iPhone ($399 USD), the P520 is an unlocked phone with no contract, so buyers on GSM carriers other than AT&T or those concerned about committing to a two-year service plan may be able to overlook the extra up-front cost. Those looking for status above and beyond what the now-commonplace iPhone provides may find the P520 to be an appealing alternative.

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