Samsung next with touchpanel cell phone

Telephones with touchscreen displays that occupy most of their front face are starting to looking like the next big thing in the cell phone market.

On Thursday Samsung became the third company in almost as many weeks to show a handset with such a design. In unveiling the F700, Samsung joins Apple, which started the ball rolling with its iPhone in early January, and LG Electronics, which announced its K850 “Prada” handset in the second half of the same month.

Among the three handsets the F700 is the first that is compatible with 3G (third generation) WCDMA (Wideband Code Division Multiple Access) in addition to conventional GSM (Global System for Mobile Communications). It also works with the companion HSDPA and EDGE data transmission systems so, on 3G networks, it can receive data at up to 7.2Mbps (bits per second).

It also scores points over the other two handsets by having a higher quality camera — 5 megapixel versus 2 megapixel on the iPhone and K850 phones — and support for a wider variety of multimedia file formats. On the video side it can play MPEG4, H.263, H.264 and Real Video. For audio, it supports MP3, AACplus, eAACplus and Real audio formats, Samsung said in a statement.

But it falls down in a couple of areas when compared to the other phones. Among the three it has the smallest display: 2.8 inches against 3 inches on the K850 and 3.5 inches on the Apple handset. Screen resolution is 240 pixels by 440 pixels, which puts it lower than the iPhone, but higher than the K850.

Other features include a QWERTY keyboard on the lower-half of the phone that slides out from behind the display when needed.

Some specifications, like the battery life and standby time, are yet to be determined, said Stephanie Wong, a spokeswoman for the company in Seoul.

The F700, which will be on show at next week’s 3GSM expo in Spain, will be the fourth member of Samsung’s “Ultra” family of phones. Samsung hasn’t decided when or where the phone will be launched nor at what price, said Wong.

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