SAMSUNG i600 v BLACKBERRY 8300 CURVE

HEAD TO HEAD
SAMSUNG i600 v BLACKBERRY 8300 CURVE

SAMSUNG i600

LOOK AND FEEL:
7/10 Looks the business, in a slightly 1980s way – crisp, angular styling, purposeful matt black plastic body with keys distinguished by gloss top. Robust, solid. Casing attracts smeared fingerprints, especially on the back. Not at al flimsy, but a bit more weight and maybe some metal would inspire more confidence.

EXTERNALS: 8/10
Full QWERTY keypad with individual characters on discrete buttons and everything accessed via Shift and Fn keys. Small email button on main keypad too. Secondary video camera top right above screen. Five-way navigation pad looks like a thumbwheel but doesn’t rotate; call. hang-up buttons above keypad, home, return and two soft keys above them. Navigation jogwheel with press-to-select and separate return button on right edge (tough on lefthanders) with hotswappable microSD card slot; proprietary power. USB connector on left with up/down rocker; on/ off button on top.

KEYBOARD: 7/10
Smaller keytops than the BlackBerry take some getting used to, and finish is slightly slippery, but works well enough after acclimiatisation.

DISPLAY: 7/10
Screen looks a bit undersized for this size of phone, and while portrait-mode 64K-colour display performs well – good on text, good contrast, surprisingly rich colours – everything seems tinier than it should be.
 MEMORY: 8/10 64MB shared memory, plus hot-swappable microSD memory card.

CAMERA: 7/10
Basic 1.3mp camera with few extras – no flash, no macro mode, few effects, but four sizes and four levels of quality. Photos are average, . Video recording to 320×240 resolution; separate VGA video-call camera on front is more useful.

CONNECTIVITY: 10/10
Comprehensive – WiFi, 3G with HSDPA, triband GSM with EDGE, Bluetooth and USB. Only absentee is IR.

PHONE: 9/10
Call performance good, reception good, HSDPA performance excellent (tested at 1.8Mbps). Phonebook is excellent.

FOR BUSINESS: 9/10
Windows Mobile 5.0 with familiar Outlook and Internet Explorer for access to emails, calendar and contacts; view Word, Excel, PowerPoint and PDF documents, so they can be sent as attachments. Podcast viewer and RSS aggregator on board, along with Google Maps and the usual PIM functions

IN USE: 9/10
Only evidence of price-shaving is single connector socket for USB, charger, headphones — so no charging while listening to music or syncing with a PC. Good battery life, and it comes with a second battery pack (complete with its own recharge holster).

WE LIKE:
• Connectivity options – works really well on HSDPA, WiFi is good
• Full feature set for midrange business phone price
• Second battery pack (why don’t all business phones come with one?)

WE DON’T LIKE:
• Marginally undersized display
• Slightly outdated styling, slightly too much plastic
• Single socket for headphone, charger, USB.

OVERALL: 81%
Difficult to fault – solid, compact, good navigation options (especially that extra jogwheel on the side), good apps on board, HSDPA. Business-class smartphone at a modest price

SPECIFICATIONS
Size:
113x59x11.8mm
Weight:
105g
Display:
TFT, 65K colours, FT, 65K colours, 320×240 pixels
Camera:
1.3MP, 1280×1024 pixels, video; secondary VGA video call camera
Connectivity:
WiFi, 3G with HSDPA, tri band GSM, EDGE, Bluetooth 2.0, USB
Battery:
Standby up to 305h, talk time up to 6.5h
Memory:
64MB user memory, microSD memory card slot

BLACKBERRY 8300 CURVE

LOOK AND FEEL: 9/10
Looks very good – well up to Pearl standard. More comfortable to use than the Pearl, too, since QWERTY characters don’t have to double up on keytops. Sits very easily in the hand and generally looks good too, thanks to the lack of sharp edges. Build quality seems high – certainly no flimsiness evident. Narrower than all previous BlackBerries bar the Pearl (though it’s no Curvier than other BlackBerries, strangely).

EXTERNALS: 8/10
Matt metalicised plastic body with discreet (and un-American) use of chromed elements; rubber strips on edges make for a good grip. Volume mute button on top; camera shutter key and up/down buttons on left side, voice command key on right edge with miniUSB port and 3.5mm headphone socket. Camera lens on rear with flash.

KEYBOARD: 8/10
Full QWERTY keypad on front (three shift modes to access full character set) with light trackball, BlackBerry’s new standard for navigation, flanked by call and hang-up buttons plus return and menu. Comfortable spacing between chiclet keys; curved layout helps differentiate keys for reasonably fast typing.

DISPLAY: 8/10
Decent enough landscape-mode 2.5indiaginal 64K-colour screen as seen in other BlackBerries. Backlighting automatically adjusts to ambient light.

MEMORY: 7/10
64MB shared memory, plus non-hotswappable SD memory card (essential for music) – none supplied

CAMERA & MULTIMEDIA: 8/10
2mp camera with 5x digital zoom and flash; three picture sizes, three quality options – but photos are disappointing, with muddy colours. Much improved media browser (built by specialists Roxio) provides a single interface for music, video, images, ringtones. Music playing is surprisingly good, with shuffle and repeat – no userdefined playlists though. Standard 3.5mm headphone jack on the side is big plus.

CONNECTIVITY: 6/10
Quad band GSM, EDGE and GPRS, Bluetooth and USB – but no 3G or WiFi.

PHONE: 7/10
No problems with reception but call quality sometimes had an echoing quality (claims to have noise-compensating technology, which might be responsible).

FOR BUSINESS: 7/10
Pace-setting email, ok web browser, basic PIM apps. No Office documents readers (so email attachments are problematic). User interface not as slight as Nokia/ Symbian or Windows Mobile.

IN USE: 8/10
The most comfortable BlackBerry we’ve used. Still irritated occasionally by the way it remembers the last thing you were doing in a particular app rather than returning to the default condition, and the trackball is too light. But it works well as a phone, and the other apps are generally easy and effective

WE LIKE:
• Hand appeal—build quality, size, shape, weight – and compact but effective QWERTY keyboard
• All the BlackBerry virtues – email, menu systems, shortcuts, etc
• Much improved media player, standard headphone socket

WE DON’T LIKE:
• No WiFi, no 3G, no video
• Side up/down keys should double as menu navigation
• Trackball is oversensitive, can be tiring for prolonged use

OVERALL: 76%
It’s not a new BlackBerry, just a redesign with little or no change to all of existing functions. Shame about the lack of 3G – email and the web really benefit from superfast access – and we’re not convinced by the trackball: but this is still the best BlackBerry yet.

SPECIFICATIONS
Size:
107x60x15.5mm
Weight:
111g
Display:
TFT, 65K colours, 320×240 pixels
Camera:
2MP, 1600×1200 pixels, video, flash
Connectivity:
Quad band GSM, EDGE, Bluetooth 2.0, USB
Battery:
Standby up to 408h, talk time up to 4h
Memory:
64MB flash memory, microSD memory card slot