Samsung have unleashed the Samsung Galaxy Pro, an android-based handset, featuring both a 2.8-inch touch screen and a full Qwerty keyboard.
Featuring the tag line: “Your perfect work partner has arrived,” the Pro seems to be Samsung’s attempt at cornering the lucrative business market, a market that has long been the natural habitat of R.I.M’s Blackberry series of phones.
Blackberry currently holds a 22.3% market share with Android leading the way with 45.2% of the UK market (comparatively, Apple takes 18.3%). With the launch of the Pro, it seems that Android are looking to eat in to the Blackberry’s share.
Having shown the Galaxy Pro to a number of my friends and family, the first comment it gets is “Oh, it looks just like a Blackberry.” And it does, the Pro’s full Qwerty keyboard echoes one of the Blackberry’s most defining characteristics, and its sleek design is another characteristic one associates with the Blackberry.
But how does the Pro stack up against one of the most ubiquitous smartphones of them all?
I asked Blackberry users what they most loved about their phones – who better to tell me what Blackberry does best than the users themselves. Then I compared these key features to those of the Android handset to see how the two stacked up.
“Having my emails sent straight to me!”
One of the Blackberry’s key selling points is it’s ‘Push’ email service which ‘pushes’ the message straight to the handset as soon as it arrives in the email inbox, instead of waiting for the handset to sync with the email service. This is an incredibly valuable tool for any work environment, as there is very little time spent waiting for the emails to catch up with the senders.
The Samsung Galaxy Pro also utilises push email (just like most Android handsets) but also takes advantage of a specific GMail application, which allows you to synchronise your entire GMail account with your phone – keeping, for example, your labelling system, allowing superb cross-device usage.
“Having a keypad instead of a touch screen” – “Also QWERTY keyboard is easy!”
The Blackberry is well known for it’s full Qwerty keypad, almost the signature feature of the handset. The keypad is often seen as easier to use, especially when writing longer messages and emails. The Blackberry Torch, unlike a lot of its predecessors, features not only a Qwerty keyboard, but a touch screen too – just like the Galaxy Pro.
The Pro’s keyboard is in fact slightly bigger than the Torch, but does lose out on screen size. The Pro features at 2.8” touch screen, while the Torch boasts, a 3.2” screen, which slides upwards to unveil the keypad.
While this decreased screen size does cause some issues (some apps such as Tweedeck and the BBC news app attempt to rotate to full a portrait screen) the inclusion of a full Qwerty keypad is a great addition, perfect for those wanting the Android OS without wanting to lose the hardware they are accustomed to.
“BBM for sure”
Blackberry Messenger, or BBM, is another of the Blackberry’s key features. The instant messaging service is especially popular with younger users, perhaps utilising the popularity of the likes of MSN messenger and Facebook chat.
There are a plethora of apps out there that are designed at a cross platform version of BBM, but non, at least in my experience, that have taken off in quite the same way.
It seems then that Android handsets are rapidly mimicking the features that separate the Blackberry from the rest of the smartphones on offer. Although the Pro is the only handset with the full Qwerty keyboard currently, it must be only a matter of time before other similar Android devices enter the market, and, if they feature a bigger, more user friendly screen, they will be even more successful than the Pro.
Unfortunately it would appear that RIM is heading down the slippery slope to failure, and with that in mind, it would seem that Android and the Samsung Galaxy Pro are in the perfect position to catch those left behind by the Blackberry’s eventual demise.