Samsung unveiled the newest smartphone in its Galaxy S line, the Continuum, during a New York City event Nov. 8. The device includes two separate-but-integrated displays: a 3.4-inch "main screen" paired with a 1.8-inch ticker display, the latter of which feeds real-time information about news, e-mails, missed calls and the like.
Exclusive carrier Verizon Wireless plans to offer the Continuum for preorder Nov. 11, with in-store availability starting Nov. 18. But will the ticker display attract customers who would otherwise gravitate toward a rival device? That remains to be seen, although Samsung executives at the unveiling event argued that the ticker display's streamlining content dovetails nicely with the customers' need to multitask and stay constantly updated on events around them.
Certainly Samsung's profited from its Galaxy S strategy, which involves offering modified devices on all the major carriers. Sprint's variant, the Samsung Epic 4G, includes a slide-out QWERTY keyboard, while the Samsung Vibrant (on T-Mobile) and the Samsung Captivate (on AT&T) take slightly different design approaches to the "pane of glass" form-factor becoming standard in the wake of the Apple iPhone's success. In all three cases, the carriers skinned the Google Android operating system with their own apps.
Samsung executives claim some 3 million Galaxy S devices have sold in the United States since their July debut. That not only makes them a major competitor against not only other Android devices, but also the iPhone and RIM's BlackBerry franchise.
The Samsung Continuum features a 1 GHz Hummingbird processor, and runs Android 2.1-which the company promises will be upgraded. As expected for phones in the Galaxy S line, both the main display and ticker display utilize Samsung's Super AMOLED technology, with a 50,000:1 contrast ratio and notable brightness even in sunlight. Other hardware: a 5-megapixel camera/camcorder with auto-focus and LED flash, and a preinstalled 8GB microSD card (expandable to 32GB).
But again, the competitive differentiator-which Verizon Wireless doubtlessly hopes will evolve into a "killer feature"-is that ticket display. Squeezing the capacitive grip sensor on the smartphone's sides, near the bottom, wakes it up. From there, the user can swipe their finger across the display to access real-time weather, news, entertainment and messaging updates, and music controls.
Tapping an icon on the right-hand side will port the ticker display's data, in expanded form, to the larger screen. Users can also swipe through the ticker display's offerings even as the main screen shows something entirely different; if you ever wanted to receive RSS updates or voicemail notifications while typing an e-mail, well, your chance has arrived. Samsung executives have indicated that the ticker display's effect on the smartphone's battery life will depend on degree of use.
The Continuum's release opens yet another front for Samsung, which seems determined to challenge the mobility market with a bevy of smartphone and tablet offerings. The manufacturer's Galaxy Tab, a 7-inch tablet PC, will soon hit the market on a variety of carriers, seeking to curb some of the Apple iPad's momentum.
Will the Continuum's ticker display be enough to make it stand out in that crowded market? Verizon Wireless certainly hopes so; it plans on selling the smartphone for $199 with a two-year contract.