The LG KE850 Prada was the first phone with a capacitive touchscreen, beating Apple’s iPhone to the punch by a couple of months. But it’s not the only touch phone to partner up with a fashion brand – while LG was in cahoots with Prada, Samsung approached Giorgio Armani and Hugo Boss.
The Samsung P520 Armani was launched at Giorgio Armani’s show at Milan Fashion Week in 2007. It had a small 2.6” display (240x320px, 4:3). Well, it was fairly large for a featurephone back then, but it was small for an all-touch phone. And it was a resistive touchscreen too, a far cry from the 3.0” capacitive touchscreen (240x400px) of the LG KE850 Prada.
Anyway, the Armani was a featurephone with the Croix user interface (French for “cross”), a predecessor to TouchWiz. Not quite Sony’s XrossMediaBar, but you can see where the inspiration comes from. This phone would influence the next model, but very few people had one – it sold at a whopping €750 (this was in 2007, mind you).
The Samsung F480 Toco from 2008 upgraded to a capacitive touchscreen, a 2.8” LCD with 240x320px resolution (with 4:3 aspect ratio). Leaving Croix behind, it ran TouchWiz and (like the Prada) wasn’t a true smartphone, though it could multitask J2ME apps.
But we wanted to focus on the fashion aspect today, so it’s really the Hugo Boss edition of the phone that interests us.
It had the Hugo Boss logo on the front, special ringtones and came with a specially-designed Bluetooth headset (just the one, this was well before the era of TWS). There was a fancy leather flip case too. The special edition phone was sold in Hugo Boss retail outlets in Europe at a more reasonable €480.
2008 saw Samsung returning to Armani to make the the Samsung M7500 Emporio Armani (aka “Night Effect”). A fairly standard featurephone on the surface, it had a 2.2” AMOLED display (240x320px) and it brought the party with it.
The phone had RGB lighting and dedicated music keys on the side, plus a (not that loud) speaker embedded into the Emporio Armani logo on the back.
Then in 2009 came the Samsung B7620 Giorgio Armani, a Windows Mobile 6.1 Professional phone with a slide-out QWERTY keyboard. Its 3.5” AMOLED display had fairly high resolution (480x800px), but still used capacitive touch. Good thing that Samsung painted over the Windows interface, which at this point was still painfully utalitarian.
A year later the keyboard was dropped for the Samsung I9010 Galaxy S Giorgio Armani. As you can tell, this was a fashionable version of the Galaxy S and it ran Android (2.2 Froyo). The screen was much better too, 4.0” Super AMOLED (same 480x800px resolution) with capacitive touch. It launched Europe, Russia, Dubai, China and Hong Kong with a hefty €700 price tag. By the way, we made a hands-on video with that phone a long time ago.
A few years later things became a whole lot less fancy with the Samsung Galaxy Ace, a pretty basic Android phone from 2011. It too got a Hugo Boss edition with a logo on the front and a custom back cover with a matte finish (thought up by Hugo Boss designers, allegedly). This model was sold at the fashion brand’s stores at €280 a piece, just €20 the retail price of the unstylish, regular Ace.
We’ve barely scratched the surface of fashion-influenced phones – we haven’t even covered all of Samsung’s attempts at digital couture. If you want to see more, we’ll do a followup article.