Samsung I600

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Ok, Samsung have introduced the all new Samsung i600 Windows mobile 5 smartphone. I just had to pick one of these up!

I got mine from ebay at a good price!

The Samsung i600 however is an out an out smartphone aimed at the business market and for that matter the mobile techie who needs to be plugged into the interweb and email every second of every day.

Samsung have been concentrating on keeping their recent phones very thin, as thin in fact as those from Motorola that many seem to lust after. The i600 is true to this aim and measure just 113 x 59 x 11.8mm which is slim for a smartphone and almost identical to the Motorola Q phone that had the suited masses dribbling at CES this year. The headline that grabbed our attention was that Samsung had opted to use Microsoft Mobile Smartphone edition for this model and not the full windows mobile platform found on some phones and almost all PDA's. This fact set-up our review with a tinge of concern that it wouldn't be man enough for the job in hand, that of being our main contact just after we had offered Skype invites on the site!

With our O2 sim in the back of the new i600 we started the week with the triband mobile on the road making a few calls and generally preparing for the usual onslaught. Call quality is good and the RF performance seemed as good as both our normal blackberry and the E61 when we tested in the same locations. When on the move the Bluetooth headset is always put to good use and we made the most of the 2.0 BT connection on the i600 which also supports the AD2P profile allowing real stereo music reproduction. However the volume level available on the Bluetooth connection seemed lower than when connected to the Blackberry or our other phone a Nokia N95.

We soon got into the Smartphone features as it was time to collect some email, first we used a 3G connection to sync to one of our mailboxes, after a brief config all was set and mail started to arrive. In fact we had a truck load of requests for Joost invites and the first batch were duly dispatched from LP's laptop (we can't run Joost on a smartphone just yet!). In collecting the mail we had a chance to experience Samsungs user interface and it would be an understatement to say we were bowled over. Despite being on the lesser featured operating system the big S have worked a miracle with a user experience that is as good as any we have had on a smartphone.

The UI is best described as a virtual rolladex, the virtual cards rotate round a bit like the latest Windows Vista, only more smoothly and for a purpose. This rotation takes you through the main menus and features of the i600, once you hit a card that contains the menu you need you can use the soft keys to scroll through further sub options and the centre key to select. Within minutes you'll be driving this thing faster than a 12 year old script kiddie with a Linux based laptop. We also like the thumbwheel which allows you to quickly fire up the main programmes and switch between them but more on why later.

Samsung have provided all the usual MS type applications within the Smartphone suite from contacts and task lists through to email and a more than competent web browser and Piscel a document viewer that can read Word and PDF documents with ease. The2.3" LCD screen works well with the web browser although you may still want to opt for WAP or mobile optimised websites. There is full 802.11b/g WiFi built in so you can use both unsecured and secured networks to surf and pickup email. Using the phone for a day did start to show that although there is a full Qwerty keyboard the spacing is less than generous, leading to a few mistyped words being sent and also a bit of finger ache before long. Compared to the E61 and blackberry the Samsung i600 comes in 3rd on ergonomics.

We did note that when running multiple applications that the 220MHz TI OMAP 1710 processor isn't really up to the job and you need to shut down some background processes in order to get anything done at a reasonable pace. This is where the thumbwheel application task manager comes into it's own as it is a very nifty way of closing apps as well as opening them.

The i600 does have a limited 1.3 megapixel camera which isn't much to shout about and lacks a LED flash, which is a shame as the gallery viewer and a few other features make it a good picture viewer but the quality of its own captured images are best described as poor.

Battery life is pretty much average for a smartphone, you'll get 2 days on normal use but leave the WiFi on and you won't see much over 24hrs before needing the charger. Sadly the charger is a proprietary Samsung plug and not a mini USB meaning you may need to buy 2 chargers if you are a heavy user like those on our team.

A few days with the Samsung i600 proved that despite it using the smartphone edition it manages to behave impeccably and is great to use and navigate. The size and feel of the phone are also great and we can even work with the battery life, the camera is poor but then we doubt most users will care in this segment. Perhaps the only major drawback is the cramped keypad which limits just how long your email replies will be. With enough connectivity to keep you plugged into the world and an easy and novel user interface the Samsung i600 is a rival for the Nokia E61 and possibly a challenger to the Blackberry Pearl.

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