Fascinating as they are, ultra high-end handsets are not everybody's cup of tea. In fact, the good old mid-range is the bread and butter for every successful mobile phone company, for that's what gets those sales numbers right. As we see it, Samsung i550 might just be the phone to perfectly fit this description. It doesn't yell expensive out loud, but has great all-round functionality and might just become tomorrow's classic.
When first announced, the Samsung i550 had only one version and it crucially lacked Wi-Fi. However, just as it started hitting the shelves, a second WLAN enabled version named Samsung i550w popped up. The two versions have no other differences in terms of hardware or software. Anyway, the second version places Samsung i550 in a somewhat different league - handsets that have it (almost) all. It may not have the best camera or GPS receiver around but performs adequately in both departments and that is what really matters most of the time.
Right now the Samsung i550 seems to have no direct market rivals. It's considerably cheaper than Nokia N82 and N95, or Samsung G810, which makes any comparison unfair. Even the N95 classic costs more than what you would pay for a Samsung i550. All of these handsets have a number of extra features on top of what the i550 has to offer but, as we found out, they're all on par in terms of usability and user friendliness.
Nokia N78 is probably the most similarly equipped phone but we are yet to see its market release. Nokia haven't been so kind of supplying us with pre-release handsets for testing - a rather quirky marketing decision.
So for now, Samsung i550 is the only handset in this market niche and that seems a good enough stepping stone to success.
One last thing before the actual review gets going. The Samsung i550 we had for the test was a beta unit, some i-dotting and t-crossing short of being ready for the shelf.