By March 19, 2008

Samsung i780 review

I was asked to review this phone and thought great, another Samsung, how wrong can someone be? Do I like this phone? Read on…

To be honest I knew very little of this phone as I am not a Blackberry type or QWERTY fan at all. So this type of unit I tend to give a wide berth and not so much as a second look.

Due to be released very shortly and at present exclusive to Orange, this unit sits at the upper end of the market and offers a full function PPC with all the attributes that we now take for granted and more besides.

Samsung i780

Samsung SGH-i780

What’s in the box?

Matt’s Samsung i780 unboxing video will show you just what you get with the i780 but in summary:

  • The Samsung SGH-i780
  • Getting started disc
  • Quick reference guide
  • USB sync and charge cable
  • Mains adaptor
  • Headphones
  • 2 standard batteries
  • Battery charging caddy

Samsung i780 specification:

  • Microsoft Windows Mobile 6 Professional
  • 624 MHz Marvell CPU
  • 256 MB ROM / 128MB RAM
  • 2.5 ” 320×320 TFT Touchscreen
  • GSM900, GSM1800, GSM1900, UMTS2100
  • CSD, GPRS, EDGE, UMTS, HSDPA
  • Built-in QWERTY-type keyboard, 37 keys
  • microSD card slot
  • Bluetooth 2.0
  • WiFi: 802.11b/g
  • Built in NMEA 0183 GPS
  • 2.0mp camera
  • 61.3 x 115.9 x 13.3 millimetres
  • 120 Grams

GENERAL

The top of the i780 finds the front-facing VGA camera and earpiece also the status light indicator. Below these is the square 320×320 touchscreen, which sits flush with the casing and has slightly mirrored finish. Not ideal in bright sunlight but still useable.

Below the screen there is the normal softkeys, default set to contacts and calendar. The phone pick up and end keys that also double up as loud speaker key and device lock key respectively. Positioned between these there is the Windows Start and an OK button. And between those there is the innovative optical joystick-cum-Dpad. Below is the full 37 key QWERTY key pad with white highlighted number keys, reasonably standard now on this type of device. The keypad has a white coloured backlight when pressed.

Samsung i780

Samsung SGH-i780 controls

On the left side there is a lanyard hole and nothing more than a up and down volume rocker and a reset hole.

Samsung i780 left side

Samsung SGH-i780 left side

The right side from top to bottom are a flap covering the connecting socket for the USB lead or headset. The next housing also covered is for the microSD card and finally the camera key.

Samsung SGH-i780 right side

Samsung SGH-i780 right side

There is nothing on the base of the phone apart from the microphone hole.

Samsung SGH-i780 bottom

Samsung SGH-i780 bottom

The top is home to the power button and the telescopic stylus housing.

Samsung SGH-i780 top

Samsung SGH-i780 top

The back of the unit is pretty bare apart from the battery housing and the 2 Mega pixel camera and a small speaker grill. This has a pleasant rubberised feel and comfortable to hold.

Samsung SGH-i780 main camera

Samsung SGH-i780 main camera

Highlights

  • The 2 mega pixel camera
  • Fast 624 MHz Marvell processor
  • Connectivity speeds
  • Comfortable and easy to use

Lowlights

  • 320×320 screen creating issues with some 3rd party applications
  • Unresponsive touchscreen
  • Propriety connections for USB and headset.

REVIEW

My first impression of the i780 was one of pleasant surprise, the unit feels comfortable in the hand and it feels a lot smaller than it is, in fact it is the near enough the same height and width as the iPaq 614c, that I have just reviewed, but a approximately 4.3mm slimmer, and this for me made a world of difference. I had to check the dimensions again, as the difference in appearance was dramatic.

Also on first impression the keyboard appears to be too busy and small for me to be able to use, but after a short play and without reading the manual it proved to be easy to use and one handed texting was a breeze and this from an anti QWERTY man. Pretty much all of the buttons are dual function, offering an alternative symbol or number at the touch of the fn button. For example as mentioned the Phone keys double up, as does the camera key which is used to call up a mini windows media player, the OK button when held brings up the Task Manager, the left of centre keys act as number keys etc..I also like dedicated Message and GPS buttons found on the bottom row, a long side the space/vibrate button and the caps lock amongst others.

I even quickly got to grips with the optical Dpad/joystick, with the lightest of touches and a small sweep of the pad with your thumb, proved to be very responsive and accurate when needed, I did find myself using it quite a lot. There is also the option to use mouse mode in the same manner, but this I agree with Matt is not ideal on a WM device, and prefer not to use it.

I am really impressed with the speed of the thing for example downloading a video podcast from the built in extras menu, saw a 12mb clip downloaded on wifi in around a minute. And nipping around the applications is a superb, the only gripe here mentioned by Matt in the Unboxing is the touchscreen which although flush with the casing on the top appears to be quite badly recessed in the device, occasionally it takes a couple of taps to get a response, not by any means a major problem but an irritation.

Software

The WM menu seems pretty unremarkable, apart from being a little Orange, there is the option of ‘Themes’ which is a smart way to customise the overall colour of the screen and the text colour, lots of options here, in both areas, from one end of the rainbow to the other. Also the option in ‘wake up’, to choose which button or buttons brings the device back to life after standby. Settings offers a Data Call Manager, HSDPA enable/ disable.

The programs menu offers, out of the ordinary, Alarms which offers Wake up and 4 others besides, Orange Plus which shortcuts to various topics such as sports latest, financial markets, lifestyle, all of which requests a text message with the info to be sent back to you. Photo slides gives access to ‘My Pictures’ with options to browse or zoom and see as a slide show with very pleasant lift music running in the background, is that customisable anyone?

It was nice to see software bundled in the device as well; a mini player meaning you can access your WM player without have to take up the whole screen to adjust volume or skip a track. Also included in ‘extras’ is Opera 8.65 for WM great for the tabbed browsing. The aforementioned Podcast application, RSS reader, smart converter and Java. Task manager also works well allowing you to see and the applications that are open and the soft keys default to close and close all.

Google maps was downloaded and set up in moments and also works very well, seamlessly zooming and scrolling around the desired positions and routes, with the assistance of the capable onboard GPS and A-GPS.

The GPS signal is acquired pretty quickly, probably thanks in no small part to the Assisted part of the AGPS. Once the ephemeris data is downloaded using any available internet connection (even through activesync) you do not need any network connectivity as, once again, most of my testing here was done without a sim card in the device.

My biggest surprise, which was also commented by many friends and colleagues, was the 2 mega pixel camera, the clarity and ease of use were for me a real highlight, the menus are clear and understandable and although there is no autofocus or flash the quality for an amateur like me was more than adequate. Taking photos around the house in both daylight and at night with side lights appeared no different. Looking at the ever increasing mega pixels that are around these days, I thought this was going to be another disappointment but it really wasn’t!

Samsung i780 sample photograph

Samsung i780 sample photograph

Telephone functionality was absolutely fine and nice to see that even with the 3g connection the phone worked and also when losing the 3g connection reversion to GPRS caused no issues either. The spoken word was clear, both on speaker and also on the earpiece/ Headset. I would class this as one of the better phones I have used for this purpose.

Battery life was a little better than most, although it is 1000mAh according to the device, however there is 2 supplied and the charge caddy mentioned already. Not a real issue for me. The only gripe here is the proprietary connector which means you will need a Samsung specific car charger if you are using Sat Nav.

It wasn’t all good as it might appear, there are gripes such a having to use propriety connectors that Samsung deem fit for purpose but limit the option of connection to chargers, headphones etc. Although the headphones supplied are excellent and the Sync/charge cables work perfectly fine, why can’t they be mini USB style like many of their competitors? Standard connectors for all please.

And then there is two points about the 320×320 2.5” screen the first already mentioned above with the responsiveness, the 2nd is the ability to use 3rd party applications which is the one of the main reasons we love using Windows Mobile. As a self confessed Phone fiddler I am not convinced that there is that much available in the way of Plug-ins and add-ons that will support this screen format. My personal favourite input programme leaves a gaping hole at the bottom half of the screen, I also use thread SMS software which works fine, I am told that Tomtom supports 320×320 but have not been able to test this, if someone could let us know? So it appears some programmes will work and others won’t but there is not necessarily an easy way of tell which is which. A real shame.

Finally another niggle, hearing now that there is no way to hard reset the phone, that anyone has found to date, not even Techies at Samsung can advise at this time.

Conclusion

OK, I’m converted. This is, in my opinion a very nice device, I realise it will not please everyone, as it might appear overcomplicated, but for an all in competent and capable phone that fits as well in the pocket as it does in the hand, includes all of today’s must haves such as GSM900, GSM1800, GSM1900, UMTS2100, CSD, GPRS, EDGE, UMTS, HSDPA to 3.6 Mbps,as well as Bluetooth with A2DP, wifi, built in GPS and A-GPS.
I will definitely be recommending this to my friends and a few have already been showing an interest, is the price tag the ultimate killer? Being slightly above the cost of Matt’s beloved TyTN II will we tempt him to swap? Will the lack of available applications and gadgets mean that you can’t live with it? Time will tell. Can I have a look at the Asus P750 now, Please….?

Review by: Steve

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About the Author:

More than 20 years in the IT industry. Blogging with a passion and thirst for new technology since 2005.
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