Friday, August 3, 2012

Phones from the vault: SPH-i330

Occasionally I have to dig deep into my phone pile, and am reminded of some of the more interesting things (or just boggle at kids not recognizing a StarTAC). Today, one I ran across seems especially relevant.

This is a Samsung smartphone from 2001. One of the earliest smartphones, then, when they were all called "PDA Phones." It was a pretty solid device, really. Full Palm OS with their entire app catalog, running in color, and with the most integrated dialer to date I am aware of. Here's a contemporary review.

It bested the PDAs of the day in some ways, to me, by having a rather larger than usual screen. The writing area was virtual (I think it even could turn into a virtual keyboard, but am not sure... mine doesn't work anymore). But mostly, when not in Palm mode, like for the phone functions, the whole screen

Anyway, it's a rectangle, with a large touchscreen, a grid of icons... what does this remind me of? I am not even saying anything directly about the legal proceedings going on right now. But more that I cannot see how anyone seriously part of mobile before the iPhone can say that it was 100% revolutionary. I don't recall anyone saying that the form factor was truly revolutionary at the time, in fact.

What did I think? Well, I wrote it down. And stuff I didn't include were basics like "it's a big, shiny, expensive featurephone." Remember, no appstore. Not even sideloading J2ME apps. Let me remind you, every phone had apps you could download. Seriously. But I sure didn't at any point, to anyone, say anything about the form factor. I even knew about capacitive touch, and couldn't imagine why you'd choose something without a pen (I still wonder why). Anyway, all this about a big touchscreen rectangle being amazingly new, no. Not even the F700 weeks before or after depending; years before, this general form is in the wild.

Note also, that Samsung seems to have bowed to public perception back then, and the updated i330 was significantly more rounded off. I haven't paid that much attention, but bet there are drawers of Samsung rectangle mockups, and only a few boxes made it to production. This is one of the boxiest.


C said...

I had a version of this when i came out, but with a greyscale screen, and a shorter antenna. It was definitely more rounded and box like. I was trying to figure out what model it was, as I figured it was a predecessor, but from what you describe, maybe it was a different redesign of this.

Steven Hoober said...

There were several grayscale smartphones before, and after, this but I do not recall this being part of a line that continued. Seemed like a one-off.

Check out some Palm powered devices, especially, though.