Posted by Mike Evans in Events on February 15, 2010

Wow! Samsung will be showing off this, the Samsung Halo i8520 phone tomorrow at MWC 2010. The Halo is both an unbelievably good smartphone from Samsung, yet also something of an enigma.

First the goodies – the Samsung Halo is a 3.7″ SuperAMOLED-totting Android 2.1 smartphone with a list of features longer than your arm, and which includes not just an 8 megapixel camera, not just 720p/30 frames per second video recording, but a built-in pico projector for projecting images and video onto a wall!

Seriously, the list of features on this new phone is just stunning – check them out after the jump.

Samsung Halo i8520 Overview

I’ve written about feature phones for some years now, and I’ve kind of got used to reeling off a list of features. Every now and then, though, a phone comes along with so many extraordinary features, you can’t quite believe it’s real.
Samsung Halo i8520 phone

The Nokia N95 was the first phone to do that. Not only was it one of the first phones with built-in GPS, but it also came with a huge (for its time) 5 megapixel camera and 30fps video recording.

The Samsung Halo looks like it might be another one.

Samsung Halo Specification

OK, brace yourself – I’m going to reel off the list of the Halo’s features, and I think you’ll need to be sat down first!

  • 3.7″ WVGA Super AMOLED screen
  • 8 megapixel autofocus camera with flash
  • front-facing VGA camera
  • 720p / 30fps video recording and playback
  • DivX and Xvid playback support
  • Bluetooth 2.1
  • 802.11b/g and n WiFi
  • 3.5mm headphone jack
  • aGPS
  • 16GB of internal storage plus microSD expansion
  • stereo speakers
  • DLNA support for seamlessly sharing photos and videos across other DLAN-equipped gadgets
  • integrated DLP pico projector plus specialized projector UI
  • Quad-band GSM and EDGE

Anything there you don’t like?!

OK, let’s put this into context a bit.

Why these features matter

2007 – 2008 was all about software. Apple redefined the mobile phone market with the focus firmly on software and the user experience that could be had when using a mobile phone. iPhone apps extended the benefits of focusing on software by enabling a mobile phone to be extended in limitless ways.

2009 was about the rest of the mobile phone world catching up with Apple and also focusing on software. The result has been a raft of new smartphones, operating systems and user interfaces (not to mention different app stores), all of which aim to recreate the iPhone experience.

But there’s only so much you can do to differentiate one smartphone from another. The latest iPhones and Android phones for example, now have very similar applications. Once the apps and the user interface are level, what do you do then to make your phone look very different from every other phone?

If you’re Samsung, you throw every killer hardware feature at the phone and make it super-usable as well!


Take imaging, for example. The Samsung Halo doesn’t just have a 3.2 megapixel camera, like the iPhone – it’s got a whopping 8 megapixel camera, and as Samsung’s Pixon range feature some of the best quality camera phone technology on the market, you can bet the Halo’s pictures will be outstanding as well.

Samsung i8520 Halo showing 8 megapixal camera

Video, too, is excellent. Samsung have form in video with the Omnia HD, the first phone on the market to feature 720p HD video playback. With the Hero, not only do you get 720p playback and recording, you can watch it on the new SuperAMOLED screen that Samsung’s developed, which is unbelievably clear and bright, with contrast levels that are unheard of on a mobile phone.

The Pico Projector

Of course, the one killer feature that will leave any of your mates’ phones floundering is the pico projector. At the touch of a button, your phone’s UI, photos, videos – anything you like – can be beamed onto a wall or any flat surface.

I can’t think of a single other feature that will make jaws drop more than this one.
Samsung i8520 Halo phone showing pico-projector

Android goodness

Throw in all of this and add Android 2.1 to the mix, complete with everything we expect from Android these days (all Google’s apps, plus the usual array of aGPS, sensors and accelerometers), and you have the most feature-packed smartphone on the market today.

Why the Halo is an enigma

And yet, for all that, the Samsung Halo is something of an enigma.

Its features are collectively better than anything on the market today – including the Samsung Wave, which was also announced today, and which is Samsung’s first ever Bada phone.

Bada, for those who don’t know, is Samsung’s brand new mobile operating system, designed to take on the likes of Android and the iPhone. Samsung has spent a fortune on Bada, and yet the Samsung Halo is built on top of Android. Not Bada – Android.
Samsung Halo i8520 Android phone

The Halo is clearly a flagship phone, and makes the Samsung Wave, the first Bada phone, look second rate by comparison. Worse, given that the Halo features pretty much the same UI as the Wave (they both feature Samsung’s TouchWiz 3), it leads me even more to ask the question:

What on earth is the point in developing Bada?

As a user, you’d be hard pushed to see the difference between the Wave and the Halo, as they both feature the same user interface. So why bother developing a new OS underneath it when Samsung already use Android (and Symbian, for that matter), which doesn’t cost them a penny!

Who knows? Clearly someone at Samsung does (or at least persuaded their boss that they do!). Whatever the strategy, what we have with the Samsung Halo i8520 is the most advanced and technologically rich smartphone ever built.

At least until we see what Nokia, LG, HTC and the dozens of other players in the mobile phone industry reveal at tomorrow’s MWC 2010! Bring it on!

[Source: Engadget]