Samsung’s Ultra range of handsets has really caught our imagination here at TrustedReviews. Riyad has already cast a favourable eye over the D900 review and we have the D830 and X820 in our sights too.
But Samsung is also flexing its muscles in the smartphone world. Right at the front end of the year I looked at the i300, the company’s 3GB Windows Mobile Smartphone. Now, towards the tail end of 2006, we get the i320, a slimline, keyboarded Windows Mobile Smartphone that deserves a place in the Ultra line even though Samsung has not deigned to give it one.
The i320 has everything going for it in the looks department. Where other Windows Mobile smartphones tend to the standard candybar format, this handset is wide – so as to incorporate a miniature keyboard, and is very, very thin. We are taking 111mm tall, 50mm wide and a mere 11.5mm thick. The weight, at 95g is no bother for the pocket.
Normally I leave battery life analysis to the end of a review, but in this case the very thinness of this handset means that there is only room for a small cell which makes battery life a very important consideration, so let’s cover it early on.
My standard music rundown test, playing MP3s from a memory card and forcing the screen to stay on, got me a minute short of five hours of battery life, which is pretty poor for a Windows Mobile Smartphone – or any handset, come to that.
To its credit, the low battery warning came an hour before the battery gave up completely, offering a fair amount of time for you find mains power.
But you probably won’t have to do that, as Samsung provides a spare battery, and better than this, has actually bothered to give you a way to charge it without needing to put it into the SGH-i320. You get a small black container into which you put the battery. This has a slot for Samsung’s mains power adaptor. Plug it in and the adaptor’s red light turns green when the battery is charged.
This is a neat solution, but it just makes me wonder why Samsung insists on a proprietary mains power charger rather than going USB. The same goes for its PC cable, which of course uses the same jack as the mains power cable.
Very unusually for a Windows Mobile Smartphone there is a widescreen format to the SGH-i320 so that the 320 x 240 pixels are flipped onto their side. The screen is up to Samsung’s usual high standards when it comes to sharpness and clarity, and the widescreen suits Windows Mobile Smartphone very well, allowing for a better rendering of information such as emails and calendar contents than the more usual portrait format screen does.
Under the screen the navigation button is large and very easy to manipulate. The same can be said for the rockers to its left and right which cater for Home, Back and the Windows Mobile Smartphone softmenus. To the outside of these rockers, slightly thinner Call and End keys, the latter doubling as the power key, are still large enough to find easily.
Beneath all this lies the keyboard. Its keys are tall, thin and very small. A predictive text entry system offers word suggestions, and this speeds up data entry a little, but still I found getting sentences into the SGH-i320 a rather laborious process. I think the bevelling of the keys doesn’t help here – they are raised in the middle which seemed to make me think I needed to hit just the bottom half to get a QWERTY character when in fact pushing anywhere would do it. The long and short of things is that this isn’t the fastest mini keyboard around, but it does work.
There is a good range of buttons around the thin edges of the hardware. On the left edge is a volume rocker, the infra red port is on the top. On the right edge the proprietary headset connector and mains power ports have small covers that require a fingernail to dislodge. This edge also house two buttons. The upper one launches the profile switcher on a short press and activates keylocking on a long press while the lower one can launch two applications of your choice – one on a short press, one on a long press.