Samsung Intros Upstage Music Phone

Samsung has announced its latest music phone, the dual-sided Upstage, sporting a new dual-sided design which puts all the phone functionality on one side of the device, and all the portable music player functionality on the other. Users literally switch between the phone and music functions with a flip of a switch. The Upstage will be available this April from U.S. mobile operator Sprint; with a two-year service agreement, the upstage will run $149.

What will that money buy? A slim candybar phone (measuring 4.07 by 1.73 by a scant 0.37 inches) with a video-capable 1.3 megapixel camera, microSD card support, USB 2.0 connectivity for sideloading your music, stereo Bluetooth, and a 3.5mm headphone jack. The Upstage also comes with an “extended battery wallet” which kicks the unit’s talk time up to 6.3 hours and music listening out to 16 hours; a dual battery gauge lets users see how much juice is left in both the phone’s internal battery and the battery wallet.

Of course, the Upstage ties into Sprint’s many over-the-air music and video services, including Sprint’s Power Vision Music Store (where users can purchase songs directly) and Sprint TV. Sprint’s also offering a Music Manager Application on CD-ROM to help users migrate their music collections to the Upstage

“Samsung is proud to introduce this groundbreaking union of voice, form and music to the Sprint Power Vision phone lineup,” said Peter Skarzynski, Samsung Telecommunications America’s Senior VP of Strategy, in a statement. “UpStage is packed with high-profile music access, messaging and multitasking capabilities, in an ultra-slim, unique design with a very reasonable price point.”

The Upstage certainly seems to give Samsung a high-profile entry in the unified phone-and-music-player market, and the unusual form factor may give the Upstage some credibility amongst folks who’ve been chagrined at music player interfaced shoehorned into traditional phone handsets. However, the entire mobile phone industry is currently laboring under the shadow of the soon-to-be-released Apple iPhone, which combined mobile phone features with Internet capabilities, smartphone-like features, and a “widescreen iPod.” AT&T/Cingular says it’s already had a million customer queries about the iPhone…and the marketing hasn’t even started yet.

In the meantime, customers can register to purchase the Upstage when it lands in April; Sprint will be offering service credit incentives on Free Incoming or Power Pack service plans to users to purchase the Upstage through with a special customer code.