Samsung Galaxy Chat Offers Ice Cream Sandwich, Dedicated Keyboard

Samsung does as much competing in the low end of the smartphone market as in the high end. In the former, where RIM and Nokia are major adversaries, the Chat offers a BlackBerry-like perk.

Samsung launched a new Galaxy smartphone in Seoul July 4, the Samsung Galaxy Chat. Featuring a 3-inch QVGA touch-screen and a dedicated QWERTY keyboard, it looks a whole lot like something that BlackBerry users might be interested in.

Like the Galaxy S III, the Chat will launch abroad€”starting in Spain this month and expanding throughout Europe and then Latin America, the Middle East, China, Southeast Asia and Southwest Asia at "a competitive price point."

Whether the Chat will complete its world tour with a visit to the United States, Samsung wouldn't say. Nor could a spokesperson confirm whether the Chat will be Samsung Approved for the Enterprise (SAFE), as the Galaxy S III is.

"SAFE is a U.S.-only program," a Samsung spokesperson told eWEEK. "As specific plans regarding U.S. availability of the Galaxy Chat have not yet been announced in the U.S., I am not able to speculate whether or not the device will be SAFE-certified."

What it does have in common with the Galaxy S III is an emphasis on socializing. Samsung says it's designed for "socially active users," and it has a dedicated key for launching Samsung's ChatON, a communication service that connects users from any phone platform into a single community, enabling, again according to Samsung, "spontaneous group chatting and messaging€”whether with text, animations or images€”in seconds."

The Chat runs Android 4.0, Ice Cream Sandwich, and so it has a Favorites tray, into which users can put items they want easy access to, widgets they can resize and reposition, and all the other ICS perks, like the ability to launch the camera from the locked screen.

Despite ICS€”a version that many users of fancy Android phones are still crossing their fingers for€”this is not a highest-level Samsung phone, and in that way, it stands a good chance of attracting users in markets where low-cost RIM and Nokia phones find traction.

The Chat runs an 850MHz processor and has a 2-megapixel rear-facing camera, the Samsung TouchWiz user interface, a Document Viewer and QuickOffice€”which enables users to view and edit Office documents, including Word, Excel and PowerPoint files.

The expected Google apps€”including Search, Maps, Gmail, the Play Store, Google Talk and YouTube€”come preinstalled, and connectivity options include WiFi (b/g/n), USB 2.0 and Bluetooth.

The device has 4GB of memory, an external microSD slot that supports up to an additional 32GB, an accelerometer and a digital compass.

The Chat measures 2.3 by 4.7 by 0.46 inches and weighs just under 4 ounces.

Samsung's smartphone success has come from its mix of high- and low-end devices that hit a variety of price points. During the first quarter of the year, the company posted 267 percent year-over-year growth, according to research firm IDC, which wrote that "propelling" Samsung's growth was its expansion into all directions€”"new and old smartphones, product and market segmentation, and multiple price points, screen sizes and processor speeds."

During the company's second quarter, which Samsung announced early details about on July 6, it anticipates that strong sales of high-end smartphones, most particularly the Galaxy S III, will enable it to post a record quarterly profit.