South Korean electronics giant Samsung isn’t taking any chances on carrier exclusivity with its high-end Android-powered Galaxy S smartphone: Samsung is launching the Galaxy on all the major U.S. mobile operators, with the catch that they’ll all offer an “exclusive” version under a different name. On Verizon Wireless, the Galaxy will be known at the Samsung Fascinate; on AT&T it’ll be the Samsung Captivate; and T-Mobile has landed the Samsung Vibrant. The surprise of the brunch is Sprint, which plans to offer the Samsung Epic 4G, which includes a slide-out QWERTY keypad, a front-facing video camera, and the capability to tap into Sprint’s WiMax 4G service. U.S. Cellular is also getting the Galaxy S—and in a shocking move, it will actually be called the Galaxy S.
The multi-carrier strategy means that Samsung has all its bases covered in the North American market, and doesn’t have to rely on a single carrier’s capability, capacity, and marketing departments to help get its Android smartphones into consumers’ hands. However, the naming confusion will also server to dilute the Samsung Galaxy brand, as many potential customers may not see the connection between all the disparate Samsung phone names and realize the underlying product is very similar.
Each version of the phone will sport Android 2.1—with updates for Android 2.2 “Froyo” coming long in due course—a mammoth 4-inch AMOLED display (that Samsung boasts is superior to the iPhone 4’s self-proclaimed “retina display”), a 1 GHz processor, 2 GB of onboard storage, microSD removable storage, integrated GPS, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth, along with a five megapixel camera.
Carriers have not announced much in the way of availability of pricing information. Verizon says it will begin accepting pre-orders for its Samsung Fascinate on July 1, and the device will be able to serve as a mobile 3G hotspot for Wi-Fi devices. T-Mobile plans to include a 2 GB microSD pre-loaded with the movie Avatar and a mobile version of The Sims with its Samsung Vibrant—T-Mobile plans to begin selling the Vibrant on JUly 21 for $199.99. AT&T plans to roll in its own Navigator and Address Book software. Sprint boasts the most unique version of the Galaxy S—its Epic 4G will be able to use Sprint’s still-rolling-out 4G WiMax network (like the HTC Evo 4G), and will sport a slide-out QWERTY keypad for messaging needs; however, the company has no word on pricing or availability. U.S. Cellular hasn’t announced any release plans for the Galaxy S, other than it plans to begin offering the phone in the autumn.
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