The miniature QWERTY keyboard is made up of lozenge shaped keys, which are all well raised from the fascia. All but the bottom row are angled outwards from an imaginary central vertical line. This does not seem to provide a great deal of help when it comes to ergonomics but it does lend a different look to things. The number keys are picked out in grey and it is easy to switch to using them. On the bottom row is a key marked ‘123’. Hit this and the SGH-i600 immediately opens the dialler application and works with the numbers you enter.
There is a scroll wheel on the right edge, which sits very comfortably underneath the thumb. You can press it to select whatever is highlighted and just beneath it there is a back button. Meanwhile on the upper left edge is a volume rocker.
On the back is a lens for the main camera which shoots stills at resolutions up to 1.3 megapixels. There is a small self-portrait mirror but no flash. There is no side button for camera control, but it is no problem at all using the central button of the navigation pad to take shots.
When it comes to software I have already noted that Samsung adds quite a bit to the standard Windows Mobile Smartphone selection.
The range includes the Picsel viewer for reading Word, PowerPoint, Excel, PDF and plain text documents and viewing some image formats. This will be especially handy for those using the SGH-i600 for mobile email. There is also a podcast manager and RSS reader.
You also get a stopwatch, converters for various units and Voice Assist, which in theory lets you call people and open applications simply by speaking at the phone. I found it very flaky. It often misunderstood my spoken word, and when I didn’t speak to it at all it thought I had. If this were my phone I’d leave Voice Assist well alone.
Finally there is a weird little utility called D-Day which can be used to note important dates. You can put dates into categories: birthday, anniversary, holiday, business, memorial, private, travel, important or none. And you can set them to repeat every year. It seems a little over the top if you use Pocket Outlook, but Samsung must rather like it as it crops up on various handsets.
Samsung says you’ll get up to 6.5 hours of 2G talk, 3.5 hours of 3G talk, and up to 305 (very precise, that) hours on standby. My usual battery rundown test asking the Samsung SGH-i600 to play music non-stop with the screen forced on got me just over nine hours of battery life. This is pretty respectable for a Windows Mobile Smartphone.
It is a shame Samsung was not able to move to Windows Mobile 6 with this smartphone, and I’m not sure it is really sleek enough to fit into the Ultra range. But as a 3G/HSDPA, keyboarded, scroll wheeled smartphone with some good software extras it stands up well.