The Samsung MM-A800, which costs $350 after a rebate, takes VGA-quality still photos and 30-second videos, plugs directly into printers, converts speech to text, features a cutting-edge media player and has enough extra memory to store an album's worth of digital music.
The capabilities of the phone fit neatly into Sprint's strategy of selling live or on-demand television, and mesh well with its photo and video-mail services, Sprint executives say.
"The first 2-megapixel phone (in) the U.S. market reinforces Sprint's position to offer leading data services," Sprint Senior Vice President John Garcia said in a statement. Samsung Senior Vice President Peter Skarzynski called the A800 a "true competitor" to traditional digital cameras.
But any new cell phone in the United States must deal with the Razr factor. Since its debut, the Motorola Razr, with its keyless keypad and sleek metallic finish, has been the "it" phone. While the Razr also features a camera and other add-ons such as wireless Bluetooth connectivity, product reviewers give it high marks mainly for its looks and relative simplicity.
The Razr handset has almost single-handedly turned around Motorola's struggling financial fortunes and helped No. 1 provider Cingular, which has exclusive Razr rights, to pass the 50-million subscriber mark. The phone now costs $200 with a two-year Cingular service contract.