Samsung unveils Palm-based PDA phoneBy Martyn Williams(IDG) — South Korea’s Samsung Electronics plans to put on sale in the U.S. a new version of its Palm-OS based PDA cell-phone handset in April. The company unveiled the new phone, which is smaller and lighter than its current model, this week at an exhibition in Seoul.The SPH-M330 is a trimode handset which will work on Code Division Multiple Access 2000 1X networks. It also adds support for gpsOne, a hybrid service that combines signals from GPS satellites and CDMA base stations to determine a user’s location. That information can then be used with software to display maps of the immediate vicinity of the user or provide location-based directory services.A touch-sensitive, 256-color, 160- by 240-pixel LCD takes up a large part of the face of the device and doubles as both PDA Screen and, when used as a telephone, an on-screen keypad. Other features include a 16-polyphonic-tone ringer, speakerphone function, infrared port, voice memo, voice dialing, and support for an external camera.Smaller SizePacking these features in, Samsung has also managed to reduce the size and weight of the telephone compared to the previous model. The new phone weighs 5.3 ounces against 6 ounces for the earlier model and measures 4.9 inches by 2.2 inches by .7 inches, making it around 20 percent thinner while keeping almost exactly the same height and width.Fitted with a standard battery, the SPH-M330 has a talk time of 4 hours and a standby time of 100 hours, Samsung says.The company plans to launch the telephone with Sprint PCS Group, according to Sonia Lee, a spokesperson for Samsung. Sprint already sells the current model, the SPH-I300, and is expected to begin selling the new version in April, says Lee.The spokesperson won’t reveal what version of the Palm OS the device on show in Seoul was running and says this was likely to change by the time the telephone was launched.Tough CompetitionThe launch of the upgraded cell phone comes as competition is increasing in the Palm OS-based cell phone market. Until recently, Samsung and Japan’s Kyocera were the only companies selling such devices, but Handspring entered the market earlier this month with the launch of its Treo.At the same time as unveiling the upgraded Palm phone, Samsung also took the wraps off its latest handset for the Korean market.The SPH-E120 supports the CDMA2000 1X Evolution Data Only network that is beginning to be rolled out in South Korea and has data speeds of up to 2.4 mbps. With a 260,000-color LCD screen and built-in video camera, the handset weighs just 3.1 ounces and measures 3.5 inches by 1.9 inches by .8 inches. Samsung has also thrown in its recently announced 40-polyphonic-tone ringer to make a richer, less electronic-sounding ringtone than current models.