The Samsung "i" line of smartphones have taken quite a lot of different shapes and seen OS implementations ranging from Symbian to Windows Standard and Pro. There are, however, five birds of a feather that do stand out with QWERTY keyboards and uniform design. Samsung i320 was the pacemaker, followed shortly by Samsung i600. There are of course the US-oriented Blackjacks Samsung i607 and Samsung i617.
Now, the subject of our review Samsung i780 is in that bunch but not quite, being the only PocketPC in the lot. Other Windows Mobile Pro devices seem nowhere in sight for the near future, with the two most recent i-series announcements both running on Windows Standard. The QWERTY slider Samsung i640 has just been released, while the low-key Samsung i200 is still cooking.
The full-QWERTY Pocket PC Samsung i780 sure takes after its forerunners but is keen to bring to the table more processing power, 3.6 mbps HSDPA topped with WLAN support, and that square touchscreen display. This smartie is also a tad above the other fellows in terms of design, if you will.
Samsung i780 sets a firm foot on the path trodden by Samsung i600, and brings a good set of hardware innovations and utilities. In brief, there's the dual mode optical joystick (or trackpad, if you prefer - seems Samsung haven't yet made up their mind either), the fast processor and 256MB ROM, built-in GPS with A-GPS support and a 2MP camera. On the software side, you get the homescreen sidebar (the Orange version only), Photo Slides, Mini Player, Contents manager, Java launcher, elaborate Wake-up alarm, etc.
Although we are mainly comparing it to the Samsung i600, there are another two Samsung QWERTY smartphones: the AT&T branded Samsung i607 BlackJack and Samsung i617 BlackJack II. Although meant for the American market, they both have quad-band support and will work worldwide too. While the i607 has only US HSDPA support, the i617 has tri-band HSDPA to make 3.6 mbps data transfers usable worldwide.
Samsung i780 is powered by a capable Marvell processor and has 256MB ROM and 128MB RAM. The user available onboard memory is about 150MB. Given those values, the superb performance of i780 is no surprise. Just as a reference point, we played a near VGA quality XviD movie (with no video conversions) and it ran flawlessly. The movie playback passed with flying colors with only a couple of dropped frames in a 5-minute video.
Samsung stays faithful to microSD (TransFlash) memory card support to enable memory expansion. The memory card is accessible as a Mass Storage device from your PC, so the phone can also be used as a portable drive. That's with a twist though, as you need the Samsung USB cable - there is no standard miniUSB slot on this baby.
Both phone memory and the memory card are also accessible over TCP/IP and ActiveSync protocols making picture copying, ringtones saving, etc. a piece of cake.