Samsung Galaxy Pro: What a Nokia Android Might Have Looked Like

Samsung continues to leverage its popular Galaxy smartphone brand, but the latest edition is a bit of a departure. The fourth-largest seller of handsets in the world has designed an Android phone that looks like one built by Nokia (s nok): complete with both 2.8-inch touchscreen and a hardware keyboard taking up the front face of the new Samsung Galaxy Pro. U.K. operator, Three, will be offering the device in the near future but has already prepped a video demonstration:

The Galaxy Pro ought to appeal to current feature phone users based on the full keypad as well as the mid-tier specifications: an 800 MHz processor, 3-megapixel camera with auto-focus and Android 2.2. Essentially, the Pro looks to be an entry-point smartphone, as it ought to provide adequate application performance combined with a serviceable camera sensor and the ability to stay social on either 3G or Wi-Fi networks. Three is also wisely touting both the Pro’s ability to be used as a Wi-Fi hotspot and the carriers unlimited data plans, saying “those of you who are on the all-you-can-eat data on the One Plan as you can always be connected to the internet and you won’t have to worry about your bill at the end of the month.”

Samsung clearly isn’t content to rest upon the popular full-screen iPhone-like design of its Galaxy S handset. In roughly six months last year, this line of Android phones sold a reported 10 million units and helped Samsung grow worldwide smartphone sales 318.2 percent in 2010 according to IDC. Such growth bested that of Research In Motion (s rimm), HTC, Nokia and even Apple (s aapl). And the Pro is just one of several examples of how Samsung is broadening to its Galaxy line-up to cover every potential market segment. At last month’s Mobile World Congress, it debuted the Ace, Fit, Gio and mini Galaxy handsets.

This varied approach is akin to Nokia’s standard operating procedure, which is to offer numerous handset models since one size doesn’t fit all. That’s why I’ll be interested to see if Samsung’s approach of a wider line of Galaxy handsets continues to grow the company’s smartphone sales numbers. Unlike Nokia, I don’t expect Samsung to offer dozens and dozens of different Galaxy models. There’s only so much differentiation needed before the marginal utility of more becomes pointless.

And the phone itself is very Nokia-esque, reminding me much of what either a Nokia E63 or N71 might look like if they gained a touch-sensitive display and were running on Google’s operating system. Nokia has essentially locked up its foreseeable smartphone future with Microsoft’s Windows Phone 7 platform (s msft), but I have to wonder: If Samsung’s Galaxy Pro, an Android phone that Nokia could have easily designed and built, becomes a smash hit around the world, will Nokia have any platform remorse?

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