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Samsung Galaxy Pro gives BlackBerry some Qwerty Android competition

Samsung's new Android 2.2 smart phone, the Galaxy Pro, has a Qwerty keyboard, and has already been snapped up by Three for the UK.

Samsung's new Galaxy Pro smart phone is the latest Android handset looking for a bite of the BlackBerry market, with a Qwerty keyboard and a 2.8-inch touchscreen. Announced this weekend, it's already been confirmed by Three as coming to that operator's network here in the UK.

The phone was unveiled at Samsung's own SEA Forum event in Singapore, having been held back from Mobile World Congress last month, presumably to avoid it being overshadowed by the new Galaxy S II and a crop of other touchscreen Galaxy mobiles (the mini, Gio, Ace and Fit).

Official specs on the Galaxy Pro are thin on the ground, although in a blog post, Three confirms the 2.8-inch screen and physical keypad, as well as saying the device will run Android 2.2 Froyo, rather than the latest 2.3 Gingerbread software.

Three will also be selling the Galaxy Pro on its all you can eat One Plan, and is pitching the handset's Wi-Fi hotspot feature as a selling point -- although that's an Android feature rather than a Galaxy Pro feature, so applies to any Android phone sold through the network.

Our colleagues at CNET Asia have already got hands-on with the Galaxy Pro, and report that it has a bottom-edge lip like the Galaxy S, and a mesh-like cover on the back to make it more grippable. They confirm the screen has a poor 320x240-pixel resolution, and inside there's an 800MHz processor, with HSDPA, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity.

The camera is a 3-megapixel model, and Samsung's own TouchWiz software is layered on top of Android, including its Social Hub for pulling together email, social networking and instant messaging. Three has no release date for the device, but Samsung tells CNET Asia the phone will go on sale here in the UK first later this month.

There's certainly no shortage of competition coming up for this kind of Qwerty candybar handset with social features to the fore. RIM's BlackBerry smart phones continue to rule the roost thanks to their BBM messaging service -- although that's rumoured to be on its way to Android -- but the HTC ChaCha and INQ Cloud Q offer a similar form factor.

Here's Three's YouTube video of the Galaxy Pro, though: