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PREVIEW: Samsung SGH-i600 aka BlackJack Windows Mobile UMTS and HSDPA Smartphone
Posted by Arne Hess - on Wednesday, 01.11.06 - 19:36:42 CET under 08 - Reviews - Viewed 57800x
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As I've previously posted, two weeks ago I had my first 5 minutes with a Samsung SGH-i600 UMTS and HSDPA Windows Mobile Smartphone, also known as BlackJack now, which is expected to be released end of this year. This week I had my second 10 minutes with the same device, Samsung's UMTS/HSDPA follower of the SGH-i320.
Beside being Samsung's first UMTS and HSDPA enabled Windows Mobile Smartphone, the highlight of the SGH-i600 is its BlackBerry-styled thumb-keyboard which mostly addresses business customers.
Sporting Windows Mobile 5.0 for Smartphone, the i600 supports triband GSM/GPRS/EDGE, singleband UMTS and HSDPA, W-LAN b/g and Bluetooth 2.0 with stereo support for A2DP and printing protocols.
It includes 128 MB ROM and 64 MB RAM which can be extended using microSD memory cards. It measures 113x59 x11.8 mm and has a 2.3" QVGA landscape TFT screen, supporting the Windows Mobile typical 65k colors. On the backside, the device features a 1.3 megapixel camera and on the front it has a second QCIF+ camera for UMTS video telephony.

The device I got into my hands was an engineering sample only so I can neither say anything about standby time nor it's confirmed yet, that the release version will features the same hardware specs and all the software I've seen in this prerelease version. I've even heard about some hardware changes for the final version but since this is completely unconfirmed I will not comment it yet. Also that's the reason why this can be a preview only, not a review since the device hadn't had any accessories with it.

Similar to the Samsung SGH-i320, the i600 features a landscape QVGA display and bellow the thumb-keyboard. While Samsung changed the design of the keyboard (it reminds more of the i320N than the i320), the keyboard layout seems to stay the same. So if you upgrade from the i320 to the i600 you shouldn't face any problems. On the back, the SGH-i600 is sporting the 1.3 megapixel camera:

On the left, the device is featuring the, for mobile phones, typical volume volume buttons as well as unified charger, sync and headset jack, protected by a flap.
Unfortunately, Samsung continues to use its own propriety charger/sync and headset jacks instead of supporting mini USB. Even worse, the i600 uses a different, slimmer jack which means you can not use the i320 accessories at all.


On the right, the i600 is featuring a jog wheel which can be pressed to open items, etc. Bellow the device has a back button which means you can always jump back within the menu without releasing your thumb from this navigation combination. Press and hold the back button starts the camera (however the button assignment is customizable). Above you have the microSD card slot, also protected by a flap:


As I said, the keyboard layout of the SGH-i600 is similar to the keyboard layout of the SGH-i320N. But Samsung changed the layout of the Windows Mobile typical standard buttons. The green and red call buttons became larger which makes the device more convenient and easier to use. Also the i600 got a separate power button (on top of the device) which means the device can be locked by pressing and holding the red call button.
While Samsung again used its clever key-grouping to make two buttons one number key (which makes entering a phone number a pleasure) I seriously dislike the contrast-less colors used for the keyboard. Without switched on backlight, it makes reading the the silver keys too hard since the silver keyboard color is too similar to the silver shining characters. I hope, Samsung will change this for the release version of the device to something more useful:

On the top of the front, you have the QCIF+ camera for video calls. On the back, the device is sporting a 1.3 megapixel camera only, unfortunately without a photo light and also the speaker on the backside became a mono speaker now. Seriously I wonder why the camera hump became that thick, compared to the i320:

As I've mentioned before, the i600 got the location of the microSD replaced and it's accessible now without removing the battery. Under battery cover, now you will only find the battery and the USIM card slot. The device indicates that the battery is a 1100 mAh Li-ion rechargeable battery which is, in my humble opinion, the minimum since the device is supporting UMTS as well which drains batteries much faster than GSM:

Compared to the Samsung SGH-i320, the i600 footprint seems to be more or less similar; it's only slightly longer:

However, because of the thicker camera, the device is thicker and also the body is a little bit thicker since it's not featuring the curve the i320 features but the i600 is flat like the i320N:

Compared to a HTC Excalibur (O2 Xda cosmo/T-Mobile Dash), the SGH-i600 isn't as width but longer:

Last but not least, the i600 compared to a CD-ROM:

Now let us have a look inside. The Samsung SGH-i600 is powered by TI OMAP 1710 CPU at 220 MHz. On the paper it sounds pretty slow but for some reason the device is super fast and snappy. Not sure what Samsung made right what others might do wrong:


The screen is again the best you can find at any Windows Mobile Smartphone today. I've never seen such bright and crisp displays at any Windows Mobile Smartphone before as used for the i320 and now for the i600.
As always, also the i600 includes Samsung's customized Homescreen which is pretty handy and nice implemented, if you get used to it:

Another cool feature is the Samsung specific quick-menu which is customizable. It's started by pressing and holding the jog wheel and it starts out of any application. From here you can open other applications directly without going through the Windows Mobile Start menu:

The Start menu features the Windows Mobile 5.0 typical grid view (which can be changed to List view) and the most important folders here are the Internet and Contents Manager folders:

The Internet folder includes the Windows Mobile typical Internet Explorer Mobile, Pocket MSN and Internet Sharing but the i600 features two more Internet related applications: a Podcast catcher and a RSS reader (the additional Browser is a stand-alone WAP browser):

The Podcast catcher downloads Podcasts to the device and also acts as the player to playback previously downloaded Podcasts:

The Feed reader supports and downloads RSS and Atom feeds:

The RSS feed can be read within the RSS reader. Clicking an article launches Internet Explorer Mobile where the full posting can be read:


The Contents Manager allows to open pictures/photos, videos, sounds and Notes from one handy place (again, Samsung licensed Syncdata's SmartphoneNotes since Windows Mobile devices still lacks native support for Outlook Notes).
Also from here, you can easily open the File Explorer (which is Microsoft's AKU 2.5 File Explorer now, not Samsungs own one anymore):

Let us come to the communication features of the SGH-i600. Maybe most notable might be the fact, that the device is a UMTS device with support for the faster HSDPA standard as well as it features W-LAN b/g:

Since it is a UMTS device, the Phone settings offers more options including GSM and UMTS related features.
Video calls are initiated through the (Smart Dial) menu of the dialing interface. The i600 isn't supporting a separate video call button at all (which isn't necessary to have anyway):

If you are out of UMTS coverage or you simply want to access your home network you can use the inbuilt WiFi functionality. This looks and works as it does for all Windows Mobile devices:

Final Conclusion

Previously I fell completely in love with my SGH-i320 and I was really awaiting the day to get the SGH-i600 into my hands the first time and yes - this might be my next Windows Mobile Smartphone! Is it perfect? No it isn't, it's far away from being perfect (can a gadget be perfect anyway) but it's the best (feature-wise) Windows Mobile Smartphone money can buy (hopefully soon). Which other Smartphone supports GSM, GPRS, EDGE, UMTS, HSDPA, Bluetooth 2.0 and WiFi b/g? Unfortunately, like the i320, also the i600 won't become a globetrotter since its GSM radio interfaces are supporting GSM 900, 1800 and 1900 MHz but lacks GSM 850 MHz support as well as the UMTS radio supports UMTS 2100 MHz only and leaves GSM 850 and 1900 MHz. That's the reason why we will also see the SGH-i607 which is going to be released in the U.S. sooner or later as well. For me, as somebody traveling to the U.S. a few times a year only, I can live without the full GSM and UMTS support but for sure, as a gadget geek I want a device which supports every frequency.
Even more annoying is the 1.3 megapixel camera. No question, the i320 makes superb photos and also the i600 seems to make great photos and it even records QVGA videos; but frankly - a 1.3 megapixel camera is outdated. At least I would expect a 2 megapixel camera, even better a 2 megapixel camera with auto focus and a flash which is comparable to Sony Ericsson's K800 Xenon flash.

Nevertheless, the most important thing I hope Samsung will fix for the release version are the used keyboard colors. While the silver shining characters are fine for the black buttons, they are too hard to read on the silver number buttons. A dual-color combination as used for the i320 would definitely improve the visibility.

As I initially said, since the i600 I got my hand on was an engineering device, I can not say anything about standby time, etc but I hope the standby time is improved and will not face the same problems, other UMTS Windows Mobile Smartphones faces.

If you plan to upgrade your Windows Mobile phone in the near future, in my humble opinion the i600 is worth to wait for; as long as mobile data is as important for you as it is for me. I can hardly await the release.
By the way, talking about the release: I have neither received a confirmed release date yet nor any indications where the SGH-i600 will be released (but I expect an European as well Asian release). Hopefully within this year, latest early next year. Also Samsung hasn't given a price indication yet.

Cheers ~ Arne


 
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