The plus side is an increase in battery life. My standard rundown test for smartphones, constant playback of music while the screen is forced to stay on, produced just shy of nine hours of life on the ‘fat’ battery and just over five hours on the ‘thin’ one.
In both cases, though, I lost access to the hard drive long before then – a shade over seven hours of playback and a shade under four hours respectively. I was playing from a TransFlash card for the test, and had I been accessing the hard drive overall battery life would have been a bit shorter.
Samsung could do with a better translator too. Just before the hard drive was switched off the phone informed me that, "The HDD will be detached on 30 seconds later. Replace or recharge your battery", then, 30 seconds later, that, "The HDD was detached. It will not be able to access the HDD". Well, I got the gist.
The i300 comes with a rather ungainly docking cradle that can charge the spare battery at the same time as the handset itself. You also get a direct cable connection for synchronising and a separate mains adaptor as well as a two-piece headset – you can use your own favourites but the i300 end connector is proprietary, and a wrist lanyard.
For all its chunkiness, and my own scepticism about the durability of the mechanical hard drive I can’t help liking the i300 a lot. It doesn’t do a huge amount that’s different from any other Windows Mobile Smartphone apart from offer 3GB of built in storage, but I can see how that could be a real boon to large numbers of people who currently carry a USB key drive and a phone.
The main party trick of the Samsung i300 is its 3GB hard disk, which makes it far more viable for music and video content. The downside is that it’s slightly bulkier than other Windows Mobile Smartphones but for many the benefit of the extra capacity means that this will be a price worth paying.