Taking the Voice from Smartphones. Samsung Mondi

Updated on 26 July 2009 by

swd-m100_qwertyfront3There are two ways to look at the Samsung Mondi, the oversized slider-style PocketPC with built-in WiMax. Either you wonder why Samsung didn’t go all the way with the convergence theme by adding in the cellular voice capability or you look at it as a flag-bearer in the Smartphone and MID market. One of the first devices that promotes the use of internet based services for all your communications and a real benchmark for pricing and capability.

Before we get too excited though I think it’s fair to say that the Mondi has probably been commissioned by Clearwire to become part of the early portfolio of WiMax enabled devices. Its a product that solves the chicken-and-egg situation and a product that highlights the key elements of the WiMax service which are lower-cost, higher bandwidth mobile Internet connectivity. You may find the Mondi for sale online but its primary task is to be present at roadshows, in the media and of course, in Clearwire shops in Clearwire catchment areas.

To create the Mondi, Samsung have taken an 800Mhz smartphone (with almost the same specifications as the Omnia Pro,) dropped the cellular voice capabilities, increased the screen size, added mobile data capability and presented it as a mobile internet device that compares favorably to many of the Intel-based devices out there. While the processing power won’t be in the same league, Windows Mobile offers a stable,  rich environment for a hige range of applications. Opera provides a reasonable web experience. There’s a 3 mega-pixel cam and GPS (along with many many mature apps that can take advantage of it,) video playback support with HDMI output, instant-on, long-tern active standby and up to 5 hours of wifi active time. More than enough for a days work. All this for just $450. That’s impressive and it sets a new benchmark for people like Nokia and Intel’s MID partners, even if Clearwire are providing Samsung with some sort of incentive.

It’s not all roses though. The Web experience will be incomplete. You wont have full flash 10 or Adobe AIR runtime and Windows Mobile 6.1 doesn’t impress anyone in terms of UI aesthetics and UI efficiency but for most people there’s just too much good stuff on the Mondi to let a that be a showstopper.

There is one showstopper though and its got something to do with the raft of 3-4 inch high-end smartphones built on similar platforms that do include voice. Take the Omnia Pro for example. It comes in at a similar price (450 Euro is assumed to be under $500 retail in the U.S.) with the same CPU, the same OS and the same form factor. It’s got the same screen resolution, a better cam and of course, comes with the more widespread HSPA data and voice capabilities. It’s slightly smaller which means that you’ll probably be zooming in on those websites more than you would with the Mondi but to most customers, the fact that it’s smaller will probably be seen as an advantage. Total convergence. Why buy the Mondi? With WiMax, there’s isn’t much choice. That’s why!

The Mondi is an interesting product. It highlights how devices at the top end of the smartphone market are already MIDs. In some respects this has always been possible but it’s the combination of advanced hardware, software, services, networks and potential customer-base that is bringing it to the surface in 2009.  There’s nothing stopping Samsung dropping an HSPA data and voice modem into a version of the Mondi and selling it for 150 Euros with a contract in Europe. Nokia and Intel will have to be very aware of this as they bring devices into the market. For the time being though, I think we (and Intel) have to regard the Mondi as an important milestone. It might be a showcase device for a data service that has few other product options but it does show the  possibilities and pricing. A next-gen CPU (ARM Cortex as seen in the iPhone and Palm Pre) a next-gen OS and are already here and it’s only a matter of months before the web experience is made complete with flash on smartphones. 4.3″ is big for a smartphone but near perfect for the increasing numbers of pro-mobile users that don’t need a desktop OS and want to retain easy pocketability.

The Mondi won’t be a big seller in its current form but I love that fact that it’s here. It represents a real step forward in mobile data networks and mobile device marketing. It’s no surprise that Samsung, the company that worked so hard to get the best out of UMPCs, are the ones brave enough to do it.

Samsung Mondi product page [umpcportal]

Samsung Mondi Product Page. The official Samsung Mondi web pages are already available from the Samsung website. The marketing is interesting. ‘Blazing fast Internet.’  is the expression used. We’re not sure about the ‘blazing’ bit but in comparison with other smartphones, it should be up there with the best. PCWorld seem to think so in their hands-on.

Also note that Jenn, at Pocketables.net, has ordered a Mondi. Stay tuned for more information from Jenn and. If I get my Omnia Pro at around the same time, we’ll try and set up some sort of comparison between the two devices.

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7 Comments For This Post

  1. hadoualex says:

    Yes, this is a very interesting device because of the possibilities that it pioneers. Some of these include Wimax, I know that Wimax has been available for the Nokia N810, so why is the Mondi a pioneer in Wimax? Simple it’s the first Windows Mobile device with it, and this means that it can either use the internet sharing application that comes pre-installed in all windows mobile devices and given the choice you can download wmwifirouter and make it into a hot spot walking router, think MIFI. The other reason why it’s a pioneer it’s that it offers choice, as Chippy put it. Windows Mobile is a mature OS, meaning that you can go an download Skyfire for flash, Netfront for finder friendly reading, or Opera for a nice in between compromise. What makes this device different than all other is the choice to do what you please with it, unlike certain popular devices, cough ipod touch cough. If I was working in Samsung I would take the idea further and put an application in the main screen to turn it in to a hotspot router and use it as a MIFI whenever a person wants to share his connecion with other devices. Advertise it as a MID/MIFI like device and you got a good consumer selling point, ofcourse hoping that Microsoft makes their webstore something half as good as apples.

  2. DrNick says:

    I like the Mondi a lot and I don’t need it to be a phone too but I agree about the Omnia Pro. I just wish the Pro had the same size display as the Omnia 2 or that the Omnia had a stylus slot. I can take or leave the keyboard but the lack of stylus slot bugs me for some reason. Same thing with the Viliv S5. I’m a huge fan of the S5 but why not include a slot for a stylus?

  3. Philip Pickett says:

    Ummmm … am I the only one who thinks the HTC Advantage has been doing all this stuff and more for ages? And I never quite get why everyone hates WM so much… the sync/compatibility with XP/Vista makes my life SO simple. I also don’t quite get the Mac app and app store thing… Handango, PocketGear etc have been around for years, as have thousands of WM apps.

  4. David says:

    Does the camera have a flash?

  5. Tater says:

    I just got mine a week ago. Clear is not and probably will not be where I live, but the wireless internet works great. I’ve mostly used the GPS function, but have loaded a few movies on it and it seems to run just fine. No phone functionality, it runs Route 66 for the GPS software, the camera is decent (it takes great panoramic pictures.)

    Other than that I haven’t used many of the features…. and probably won’t as I won this and really had no use for it beforehand.

  6. gifts for men says:

    According to me it looks like a N900. I am going to buy this wonderful phone.

  7. Jerry Davis says:

    You bring up a very good point.

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