Well, well, guess who decided to show its pretty little face at Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer's keynote address this morning--mmm hmm, the Samsung BlackJack II. Today, Samsung and AT&T officially introduced the successor to the BlackJack, but it won't be available till "later this year"--you guys are such a tease! A majority of the changes are on the hardware side. You now get a slightly larger 2.4-inch QVGA display (previously 2.25 inches), the scroll wheel on the right side has also been removed in favor of a front jog wheel, and the bottom row of the QWERTY keyboard now includes more shortcut buttons to the smartphone's various apps. In addition, the BlackJack II is slightly (and we mean slight; this is still very much a sleek phone) thicker, but for good reason. The extra room was needed to store a higher-capacity 1,700mAh lithium ion battery. We know battery life was an issue with the original BlackJack, so we really hope the issue has been resolved in this iteration. Unfortunately, at this time, Samsung couldn't give us any specific numbers on rated talk time or standby time.
Feature-wise, the BlackJack II is pretty stacked. Starting with the new, there's built-in GPS and it's the first smartphone to support AT&T's Video Share service, which lets you make video calls. The camera's been upgraded to a 2-megapixel lens and you get a built-in RSS Reader client. Samsung also said they made improvements to the speakerphone for louder and clearer performance and increased standard memory. Other oldies but goodies include HSDPA, Bluetooth 2.0 with A2DP profile for stereo Bluetooth headsets, Windows Mobile 6 Standard Edition, AT&T Music and CV support, and quad-band world roaming.
As we mentioned earlier, a specific availability date was not given but pricing is set for a very reasonable $149.99 with a two-year contract and after rebates. It will also be available in two colors: black and burgundy. I got a sneak preview yesterday, and I've got to say I'm pretty excited about the device. The form factor is still sexy and slim, and the burgundy model is gorgeous--appropriate for both men and women. The front jog wheel felt a bit loose to me, and for those of you accustomed to the side-mounted control, it's going to feel a bit weird at first. I only got about 10 minutes of hands-on time with the BlackJack II, so it's hard to say if the performance is any better, but I'm about to run over to the show floor to get some video, so check back soon for your own first look.