In the past, Samsung, LG, and Motorola have launched various efforts leveraging the Android platform to compete with the RIM’s enterprise popular BlackBerry franchise, but devices like the Motorola Pro, Verizon’s Droid Pro, and Sprint’s Samsung Replenish have all lacked a key ingredient that made them unable to effectively compete against BlackBerry smartphones: an optical trackpad. With the latest announcements of the budget-friendly youth-targeted Galaxy Y Pro and the mid-tier M Pro, Samsung has added a trackpad on top of the BlackBerry-inspired design with a landscape oriented screen placed just above a front-facing full QWERTY keyboard, Samsung’s TouchWiz UI, and Android 2.3 Gingerbread, making the device useful as both a touchscreen device and a quick messaging device.
The M Pro offers more advanced specs in a thin profile with a 2.66-inch HVGA display, 1 GB RAM, 1 GHz processor, 5-megapixel rear camera, front-facing camera, and micro SDHC card support. Samsung’s not new to the BlackBerry form factor, after having launched the BlackJack, the BlackJack II, and the Jack on AT&T/Cingular with Windows Mobile in the past. However, these new Android devices combine a touchscreen and a keyboard.
The M Pro will probably be a mid-range device that sits somewhere between the new line of BlackBerry Bold 9900 series and the new BlackBerry Curve.
In the past, though I really appreciated the keyboard on the Verizon Droid Pro, I really disliked the usability factor of the device as navigating through Android required a lot of moving my fingers between the keyboard and the screen. With an optical trackpad placed in the middle of the Android navigation capacitive touch keys, I can quickly scroll and move around Android without having to reach for the screen and can keep my fingers conveniently close the keyboard. For instance, a simple task like sending an email on the Droid Pro would have me moving my fingers constantly between the screen and the keyboard to type text, move from field to field to populate the email address, subject, body, and then hitting send. Now, all that work can be handled with the optical trackpad.
The entry level Galaxy Y Pro will sport a similar design to the M Pro, but will offer reduced hardware capabilities to keep the pricing more affordable. This device will probably most likely compete against the newly announced line of BlackBerry Curve devices, though the new Curve smartphones lack the touchscreen capabilities of the entry-level Y Pro but offer a higher display resolution. The device will have a 2-megapixel rear camera, no front-facing camera, and 800 MHz processor. WiFi and Bluetooth will be on-board both the Y Pro and M Pro.
Additionally, with the enterprise-centric scope, the Y Pro and M Pro will also feature Cisco Mobile and WebEx support. Exchange ActiveSync and Sybase Afaria will also be supported on both devices.
The inclusion of an optical trackpad, similar to those found on modern BlackBerry smartphones, should aid in the usability of these enterprise-class Galaxy Y Pro and Galaxy M Pro devices from Samsung.