It’s time Samsung expanded the Galaxy smartphone line

Facing injunctions in Europe that could ban the sale of Galaxy smartphones, Samsung today announced four new handset classes in the Galaxy line. Like the original Galaxy S and it’s sucessor, the Galaxy S II, the new phones all run on Google’s Android operating system. The evolving Galaxy lineup represents a bit of a departure for Samsung, which has used a single model to help propel the company into the no. 2 spot for global smartphones sold.

The hardware and target audience for each of the Galaxy products will vary among the different lines, according to Samsung:

  • “S” (Super Smart) – Devices at the very pinnacle of Samsung’s mobile portfolio. This class will only be used on flagship devices such as the Samsung Galaxy S, the award-winning smartphone that has already sold 10 million units throughout the world.
  • “R” (Royal / Refined) – Premium category models, a combination of power, performance and productivity for the individual who wants to be defined by the technology they carry.
  • “W” (Wonder) – High quality, strategic models, perfect for those seeking a balance between style and performance.
  • “M” (Magical) – High-performance models at an economic price-point.
  • “Y” (Young) – These are entry models or strategic models for emerging markets or a younger audience more sensitive to price.

In addition to the five device classes, three other designations will differentiate new handsets. Pro models include a QWERTY hardware keyboard while Plus models are upgrades from prior handsets. Any Galaxy device capable of using an LTE mobile broadband network will include LTE in the model name.

The first new smartphones in the line up will appear at next month’s IFA trade show held in Berlin, Germany. The first Samsung Galaxy W includes a 1.4 GHz processor, 14.4 Mbps HSDPA radio and 3.7-inch touchscreen. The first new Galaxy with keyboard is slated to be the Galaxy M Pro, which also includes an optical trackpad and support for Exchange Active Sync(s msft), Sybase Afaria, Cisco(s csco) Mobile and Cisco WebEx. A pair of Galaxy Y devices, one with the Pro features, rounds out the new offerings for entry level use. Their status at the bottom of the spectrum is made evident by the use of an 832 MHz processor and low resolution displays.

This expansion of the Galaxy line is a notable change for Samsung. The original Galaxy S smartphone used a clever strategy last year: Create one solid design and tweak it slightly for carriers around the world. That approach brought good results in 2010, and Samsung is currently repeating its success with the popular Samsung Galaxy S II this year. The new SGS2, which we recently reviewed, is Samsung’s fastest selling smartphone, with 5 million units sold in 85 days.

But as nice as the new Galaxy S II is, the smartphone market isn’t a “one size fits all” universe. As Samsung customers transition from feature phones to smartphones, some will want hardware keyboards while others will prefer a lower-priced, but still capable handset. After two years of only narrowly travelling the Galaxy, it’s time for Samsung to shift gears and broaden its horizons.