Let us start by taking a look at the hardware specifications. The SGH-i710 is powered by a 416MHz ARM920T PXA272 processor, which should make it fairly snappy in normal use. It has 128MB of ROM and 64MB or RAM and the memory can be expanded via a microSD card. It also features Bluetooth 2.0 with EDR, but it does not offer Wi-Fi. This is not a 3G device, but it will work on all four GSM bands (850/900/1800/1900MHz) and it offers GPRS and EDGE, both class 10, which is the fastest type of each.
The screen measures 2.8-inches, has a native resolution of 240x320 and can display 65,536 colours. In use the screen is very clear and easy to read, even when you turn down the brightness.
Navigation is done by using either the four-way rocker pad with a central button, or with the supplied stylus. The stylus is very pointy and has three parts to it that extends much like a radio antenna. It is a little bit tricky to get out from the top rear of the handset at times, but it also means that it will not accidentally fall out. You could of course always use your finger in an emergency, but the screen picks up smudges quite easily.
On the top of the handset is the power button, which also puts it into standby. On the right-hand side is a small reset hole - you have to use the stylus to reset the handset if it locks up - a quick access button to the voice recorder/voice dial application, a memory card slot for a microSD card, and a quick access button to the camera application that also doubles up as shutter release. There are no buttons or connectors at the bottom of the SGH-i710.
The left-hand side is home to the combined charger, USB and headset connector, which means that you cannot use more than one accessory at a time. There is also a volume rocker that adjusts the earpiece volume during calls or the general volume of the handset when not in a call.
The front of the handset is home to the aforementioned four-way navigation pad with a centre button, as well as two soft-keys that correspond to screen menus, a Windows button that brings down the Start Menu, an OK button, a make call button which also enables the speaker phone when depressed, and finally the end call button which also locks the keys when depressed for a couple of seconds. Everything else is done on-screen.
The design is very Samsung, in a good way, as Samsung has a feel for designing stylish mobile phones and the SGH-i710 follows that tradition. At 109g and 108.8x58x13.5mm (HxWxD) the SGH-i710 is in a class of its own compared to most smartphones in this category. It fits nicely into a shirt pocket without weighing you down and its slim design makes it comfortable to hold during calls. However, we were disappointed by the chrome plated plastic on the front, as the paint had already started to wear off on our review unit, something we did not expect to see so soon on a Samsung phone.
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