AT&T's latest entry in the entry-level smartphone game is the Samsung DoubleTime, an Android handset with a form factor you've probably seen a lot more often on feature phones. In fact, this particular type of phone used to be known as a "messaging phone" with a flip-out keyboard designed for fast and easy texting, emailing and the like. The DoubleTime is aimed squarely at first-time smartphone buys with a $49.99 price and specs to match - let's take a look.
The phone has an unusual dual-screen design, with both the inner and outer screens stretching just 3.2 inches in diameter with a 480 x 320 resolution each. The top half of the phone pops up laptop style, disabling the portrait outer screen and activating the landscape inner - like any standard slider, with a little extra engineering.
The case itself is a little chunky, but considering that there's two screens and a surprisingly large QWERTY keyboard, I'm inclined to be forgiving. Build quality is surprisingly good for such a small and cheap phone - the hinge in particular is pleasantly firm. The keys themselves are a little short, but big and spacious enough for some rapid texting.
As far as internals go, a 600mhz Qualcomm processor will have to do, along with just 260MB of on-board storage. A 2GB MicroSD card is included, and a good thing, too, or downloaded apps would have to start getting very comfortable with each other. The single 3.2 megapixel camera may not be much, but it'll do for some quick social network shots.There's no mention of 4G here, not even AT&T's HSPA+ version - this is a standard 3G phone with neither a bell nor whistle to be found.
Now for the bad part, the software. Samsung has seen fit to include Android 2.2 Froyo with the DoubleTime, almost an entire year after Gingerbread became available. I wouldn't hold my breath for an update of any kind. On the plus side, TouchWiz seems to be doing alright even on the pokey hardware, and a lack of internal space means no annoying trail games cluttering up your application tray.
After about an hour with the device, it's clear that the Samsung DoubleTime isn't so much a smartphone as it is a featurephone that just happens to run Android. At this point, it's probably a lot easier to quickly port Android to some low-end hardware than it is to actually customize a dumbphone OS. For $50, you're not getting much, but then the kind of customer who would want this phone won't ask for much either - and what they'll get is a true mobile OS with access to the Android Market. The fact that the hardware will be left in the dust by almost every phone out there is just a side note.
The DoubleTime will be available on November 20th, along with the Samsung Captivate Glide.
Take a look at our hands-on unboxing video below: