Samsung i600 review: Slim, smart, QWERTY

GSMArena team, 09 August 2007.
Pages: 1234

Combining the sleek styling of Samsung's slimmest and good looking phones with the high-speed technology of HSDPA and Wi-Fi, the SGH-i600 is a bar-shaped smartphone with up-to-date email and messaging services. Being rich in features it handles almost every need, yet disappears easily into your pocket when not in use. The slim and compact SGH-i600 does just that and more.

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Official photos

When it comes to Windows Mobile-based smartphones, it is not exactly a huge variety of brands that you can choose from. The major manufacturer on the market can be easily identified in face of HTC with its palette of smartphones and PocketPC's that come in different form factors. With a bunch of applications and features, their biggest drawback is weight and dimensions. Furthermore, the standard applications in the Windows Mobile OS are invariable in every consequent device that comes to the market.

The Korean giant Samsung has wisely focused its effort in making lightweight and compact smartphone device, simple but stylish enough, sporting unique applications and latest communication capabilities. This is just the base you can expect of Samsung i600 smartphone. You can spot the bag of novelties even with a quick preview of the thin handset - among them are the handy card wheel home screen interface, uMenu application, multi-purpose thumbwheel, integrated Contents Manager software, a useful RSS Reader, complex Wake-up alarm, etc.

Key features:

  • Thin body and low weight
  • Extended software applications
  • Innovative home screen layouts
  • Full QWERTY keyboard
  • Scratch resistant quality casing
  • Plenty dedicated hardware buttons
  • Wi-Fi, Bluetooth with A2DP
  • HSDPA
  • Official Windows Mobile 6 Standard OS upgrade available

Main disadvantages:

  • Slow 220 MHz processor
  • Controversial design
  • QWERTY keyboard need some time to get used to it
  • Relatively small display
  • Poor camera
  • Only 48MB of user-available memory

Samsung's i600 place on the market

Samsung i600 is the successor of Samsung i320, which is the first QWERTY Windows Mobile 5.0 Smartphone of the Korean company. It is not the design that can instantly distinguish Samsung i600 from its predecessor, but the communication capabilities, including Wi-Fi and 3G, VGA video call camera and a few new software applications. In terms of this functionality the new star sadly lacks stereo speakers, Infrared port, camera flash and the major drawback - the powerful Intel PXA 272 (416 MHz) processor housed in Samsung i320 is illogically replaced with TI OMAP 1710 (220 MHz) processor in Samsung i600. The increased need of a powerful processor in the new model is imposed by the 3G and Wi-Fi functionality (video streaming, data transfers, etc.), multitasking and the available upgrade of Windows Mobile 6 Standard OS. This makes the decision for processor downgrade in Samsung i600 look rather unexplainable.

As in Samsung i320, the new handset features 128 MB ROM and 64MB RAM, with 48 MB of the latter being available for the user making up for a good performance. Samsung has also added a microSD (TransFlash) memory card slot to enable expanding the memory. Samsung i600 allows you to access the memory card as a Mass Storage device on your PC. In other words, the phone can also be used as a portable drive. Both phone memory and the memory card are also accessible through TCP/IP and ActiveSync protocols making picture copying, ringtones saving, etc. a piece of cake.

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In reality Samsung i600 is considerably small and thin

Let's get our attention back to i600. It is not that glossy superstar you'd probably expected, yet it is pretty comfortable at touch, packed with functional QWERTY keyboard and light touch soft keys. When it comes to ergonomics, the Samsung i600 is one of the best performers among the QWERTY smartphones currently on the market. Being 11.8 mm thick and 59 mm wide it is more compact than most rival models, and is by mere 0,3 mm thicker than Motorola Q. Other available QWERTY Windows Mobile based smartphones that might be of interest to high-end technology addicts are the HTC S630, powered by a 400 MHz processor, and featuring HSDPA, EDGE, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and a 2 megapixel camera and the Motorola Q 9h handling EDGE, HSDPA, Bluetooth, and 2 megapixel camera. Also worthy of mentioning is the rival Symbian S60-based Nokia E61i and the Symbian UIQ-based Sony Ericsson P1.

Furthermore, Samsung i600's dimensions are even comparable to regular phones if you don't mind the width, plus it is even lighter than most recent handsets on the market.

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The thin Samsung i600 compared to another compact Windows Mobile smartphone

Casing is practical

Handling Samsung i600 is very pleasing, managing applications and phone functionality is really enjoyable. The entire back and side panels are finished in soft to touch rubber-like black plastic, ensuring better scratch-resistance. It hardly catches any fingerprints, but when it does, they are also really hard to clean away.

Combining the sleek styling of Samsung's slimmest and good looking phones with the high-speed technology of HSDPA and Wi-Fi, the SGH-i600 is a bar-shaped smartphone with up-to-date email and messaging services. Being rich in features it handles almost every need, yet disappears easily into your pocket when not in use.

The available slots are suitably covered with soft plastic, adding to the phone's sleek styling and keeping dust and moisture away. A set of resourceful hardware decisions are integrated, namely the Thumbwheel, the flattened soft touch Send, End, Home and Back keys, which all feature 2-functions, as well as a 4-way navigation D-pad with comfortable OK confirmation key inside, etc. There are no colorful LED status indicators for Bluetooth and battery which is in no way something to mourn about.

The front panel sports an earpiece slot with a metal finished stripe placed on the top center. Sound quality provided by the earpiece is on high level in both volume and sound quality. In the top right corner, next to the earpiece slot is the VGA video calls camera.

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Samsung i600 front panel Zooming on the video calls camera

The upper part of the left side shelters the dual-volume keys and the flap-covered headset/power/USB port. Similarly positioned on the upper part of the left side are the flap-covered microSD memory card slot, the Thumbwheel and the Back/Clear key. In all fairness to the Thumbwheel we have to admit that its ease of use allows quick and easy scrolling through menu options and files, while in the same time you press it to confirm and select items in the menu. Even more, a long press of the thumbwheel key accesses Samsung's brand-new solution called uMenu, containing shortcuts to your favorite functions, conveniently placed on the right part of the display. We will come back to that later in the review.

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Left side: volume key and charger port right side: card slot, thumbwheel and back key

Looking at the top end reveals a power button and eyelet for a carrying strap. The power button again has double functionality - when long-pressed - it invokes a well known QuickList menu with a set of profiles and other features: power off, wireless manager, key lock and device lock. The bottom of i600 pretty bare and there are no elements worth mentioning.

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The power key set on top and a bottom view

The back panel has a swelling in its upper part, housing the mirror, main camera lens and the speaker grill. The battery cover is located on the lower half of the panel, firmly staked, yet easy to be opened. Samsung i600 relies for its power supply on a Li-Ion battery with 1200 mAh capacity. Under rather intense exploration (using a 3G network, Wi-Fi, music player, shooting video and photos, Bluetooth, etc), it will last up to 2 days. This is not really an exceptional performance for such a device but it is not disappointing either.

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Back panel view: camera, battery cover removed, SIM card bed

The Samsung i600 is nice when held in hand and we truely enjoyed using it. It fits great into the palm and its user-friendliness impresses from the very first moment you have a go with it.

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Samsung i600 held in hand

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