My First Smartphone
Today we have an interesting mix of smartphone meets slimphone, brought to us by those stylish engineers at Samsung.
This is an interesting mashup we have here today, with part of the phone wanting to be a candybar style, regular numeric keypad phone and the software side nestling firmly in the bosom of the big M$. A windows mobile phone with an aversion to qwerty; interesting!
It's clear that the phone is not trying to be an all singing and dancing smartphone. For one, it lacks a touch screen and the one it has will not be useful for the touch screen applications of WinMo.
Let's have a look at what the phone is rocking under its sleek exterior:
Network & Data: GPRS, EDGE, 3G
Operation System: Microsoft Windows Mobile 6.1 SP
Browser: Pocket Internet Explorer
Dimension: 116.7 x 50.8 x 11.8mm
Screen Size: 2.3"
Talk Time (Standard): up to 7 hrs
Standby (Standard): up to 300 hrs
Camera Resolution: 2.0 Megapixel
Digital / Optical Zoom: Digital Zoom (2x)
Document Viewer: PPT, Word, Excel, Text, PDF
Mobile Printing: Mobile printing (BPP / Pictbridge)
Email: Email (POP3 / SMTP / IMAP4)
While this is only a sampling of some of the interesting features, we can see there is nothing out of the ordinary going on here; a standard mix of style phone and WinMo features.
Okay, so I've started this review off by saying the phone is pretty mediocre. Let's now look at some redeeming features.
Charging it up and turning it on, we are greeted by the greenness that is WinMo 6.1 and when it boots into the home screen I have to admit the layout is nice and functional.
You have the date and time at the top of the menu so you can easily check it with a quick pull out of the pocket and press of a button. There are little icons with numbers beside them for missed calls, voice mail, sms and email so you can easily see what's new.
Calendar and appointments are neatly arranged and you have little shortcut menus to access music, video playback and pictures stored on the phone.
So it's laid out nicely; it gets some points back for looking good as a phone OS. But let's talk about application juggling on smartphones.
The WinMo OS uses an application manager to look after all the features of the phone you have been using. Each time you do something on the phone, it loads the process as a task and there is even a little task manager tool that you can use to go and kill memory hogging applications.
This is not something that is really necessary on a candybar phone; the most you are going to be doing with it is looking at documents and email while away from your desk and maybe playing a little solitaire.
It's becoming increasingly apparent to me that WinMo was the wrong way to go for this phone. Samsung could have made this a lot better if they had used their nice proprietary OS instead. But moving on...
Smile for the camera
Getting into some of the features of the phone now, we can see that there is a lot of potential to expand with the WinMo OS.
Booting into the camera mode, you simply hold down the camera side button until the application loads.
Once into the camera application you can play with options until your heart is content. There seems to be an option for just about everything; colours, white balance, zoom, size, quality etc.
So let's take some pictures and see how it shapes up in this dept. - Setting the resolution to highest and the quality to superfine; aim... and... nothing... Press the camera button again... nothing... interesting.
A HA! - You have to double click the button like you would on a mouse! What a strange feature, but then again, it is Windows...
As you can see from the pictures, the quality and colour reproduction is great in good lighting conditions. There is a really nice camera unit in this phone. The downside comes when you realise there is no flash, not even an LED one in this phone. So night shots and those 3am post clubbing pictures are out.
A good redeeming feature of the WinMo platform is the ability to playback most common media formats such as MP3, MP4, AAC, OGG, WMV, H.263 and H.264, so you can load in an 8GB microSD card and hum away to your favourite tunes, providing you don't mind using Samsung's supplied headphones.
Documents on the go
One of the features that Samsung try to push on this handset is the ability to support Office 2007 documents, so I loaded a few quick examples on and had a play with the Office features.
Excel provides the ability to view and change cells so that you maintain most of the functionality of excel on your desktop on your phone, this, however, is slightly hampered by the aspect change to a tall screen from a wide screen, so you will find yourself scrolling sideways a lot.
Power Point allows you to only view your slides, but the images are crisp and well rendered so you can easily use the phone to brief yourself on your slides before you have to do a presentation.
Word allows viewing and editing of word documents on the go, but does not support the ability to flip the aspect of the screen to wide mode, so you either have to select text wrapping to get it all on the screen or get used to scrolling sideways. There is a handy zoom function, though, and with the crisp screen small fonts come through as readable at 50% zoom.
Looking now at the standard features, the call clarity is good. The ability to text is fine thanks to the broad buttoned numeric keypad that we are all used to now. Incoming email and SMS are given a preview display on the home screen so you don't have to get into the phone menus to see if a message you received is important or not.
Email support on the phone is really great; you can either sync your emails with outlook or pull them over the air so you are really never away from your desk. This is one aspect of the phone that is going to be the most appealing to the Office crowd; a phone that you can take your email away on without feeling like you are carrying a brick or addicted to your crackberry.
The phone itself is light and easy to handle, it doesn't feel bulky or obtrusive in the pocket and with typical Samsung styling it looks very nice indeed.
Support for 3G video calling is good too, though the feature has never really taken off in the U.K. - it's more about the data speeds for us tea drinkers.
The onboard web browser is Internet Explorer and I have to say is a bit hit and miss. Some pages looked fine and some were re-rendered into obscurity due to the small screen size. If you just want to find out what's on at the cinema or what time the train to Scarborough is then it's more than adequate. Proper web-addicts will want something with a bigger screen, though.
But a good reason to love it right now is the deal over at Expansys for our U.K. readers where you can get this handset and free 3 PAYG sim card with 30 quid top-up for just a penny shy of 100.
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