Verizon Unveils Samsung Phone With Navigation Features

Samsung and Verizon Wireless on Thursday announced the availability of the first 3.2-megapixel digital autofocus camera phone for Verizon customers.

The SCH-a990 lets photo enthusiasts take high-resolution photos and hosts a number of media features, including video recording capabilities, technology to download music and movies, Bluetooth technology and navigational software.

“The launch of the a990 marks the first time a multimedia phone is fully integrated with a high-resolution camera in the U.S.,” said Peter Skarzynski, senior vice president, Samsung. “With a design that feels and looks like a phone and camera, Samsung’s a990 is the premier print quality camera phone for photo enthusiasts in the U.S. market.”

Multimedia Capabilities

The new multimedia phone also features Verizon’s V Cast technology, with full music, video and game capabilities, to exploit the popularity of digital media.

The V Cast service is available to more than 150 million Americans. It allows customers to view video clips of entertainment, news, sports and more. The subscription-based service cost US$15. Unlimited basic video clips are included, but application download fees apply for 3D games, music and premium video.

Beyond the MP3 type functions, the 3.2-megapixel digital camera includes a flash, auto focus, picture editor, PictBridge Digital Printing, Zoom, TV-out and 180-degree swivel screen. It also includes a camcorder with up to one hour of recording time.

Like most new-generation phones, the phone rounds out its feature set with a personal organizer with calendar, calculator, to-do list, currency converter, alarm clock, world time and a sto watch.

Navigating Competitive Advantages

For all the phone’s multimedia features, analysts point to the Verizon Wireless’ VZ Navigator, a tool for customers that includes mapping, audible turn-by-turn navigation and the ability to find over 14 million points of interest, as a competitive differentiator for Verizon.

“Even though it’s an expensive phone there is a market out there for these enhanced capabilities, particularly the navigation. The navigation feature can cost you $500 or more if you were to simply buy a navigation unit,” Inside Digital Media Senior Analyst Phil Leigh told TechNewsWorld.

Leigh pointed to a company called TomTom, which peddles GPS-based portable navigation units for automobiles with a price tag of $500.

At $350 with a $50 mail-in rebate from Verizon, the new phone could be attractive to travelers who are doing business in growing or unfamiliar territories, Leigh said.

“Of course, it all depends on how well the navigator works. If the navigation system does not work well then it is not worth much, but if it works as well as TomTom then it’s a good feature to have integrated,” Leigh noted.

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