The Samsung SGH-i620 Windows Mobile Smartphone Review, Part One

The first time I saw the Samsung i620 in the flesh was in the lobby of the Amsterdam Hilton last November. Derek Snyder had brought a white one to Mobius, and Vincent and I couldn’t wait to play with it! Vincent is one of those guys who always has a video camera glued to his hands, and before I knew it, we were shooting.

Let me take a moment to say that one of the things I like most about V is that he doesn’t look at me like I’m an idiot when I get excited about a new device; nine times out of ten, he is just as excited. I really appreciate that in a friend. 🙂

I was intrigued by the i620 after playing with it, and so I asked John Starkweather if he could loan me one. Luckily, he was able to accommodate me. The SGH-i620 arrived yesterday.

The Samsung SGH-i620 Windows Mobile Smartphone Review, Part One
all pictures are thumbnails, click to see full size

The device shown on the box is the milky white version, like the one Derek had, but I was warned ahead of time to expect the black.

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I was actually glad that this would be the black version, because the white was a little too Milky; I guess I am not a big fan of white electronics – even my iPods have been black or green. 🙂

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A slide-out tray inside the box contains all the cables, software, and the phone. There isn’t a super flashy presentation here, unlike opening something from some companies.

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Granted, this phone has been used, so not everything was still wrapped in plastic.

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This phone is aimed at the European and Asian markets, so there is a huge power plug inside.

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Included in the box are the device, main power cable, USB power cable, extended and standard batteries with doors to fit each, the earphone headset which uses the proprietary (non-miniUSB) power port, an external battery charger / case, an application CD, and various bits of paperwork.

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Let’s start with the battery charger / case. I suspect that like many Samsung phones, battery life will be an issue with this mode. This shouldn’t be too big of a deal because Samsung has thoughtfully provided both standard and extended versions. They’ve also include a charging / carrying case for keeping the spare.

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Measuring approximately 3.5″ long x 2.25″ wide x 0.3″ thick, and composed of black textured plastic, the battery charger can charge and then store either battery for later use.

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The proprietary charger plugs into the port on the charger’s end, and when its removed the charger becomes a protective carrying case.

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Enough about the charger; I know you want to see the device…and here it is! The i620 measures exactly 3.73″ long x 2.34″ wide x 0.69″ thick (with extended battery installed) or 0.66″ (with standard battery in place). On the front upper right, there is a video camera for those who live in HDSPA enabled areas. The 320 x 240 screen measures approximately 2.1″ diagonally, and underneath is a different button cluster than we have seen before. Instead of typical buttons, these only activate when the phone is opened. They are backlit, and touch-sensitive; when your fingertip touches them, there is a sound response in the form of a “snap”, and its hard to describe, because it almost seems as if you can feel the snap; although I am almost positive that is just my imagination. Going clockwise, directly under the screen are two soft buttons, a back button, the hangup button, call button, and Home button. Bear in mind, I am using the term “button” very loosely – as they are not actual buttons, more like “areas”. In the center is a wheel that at first glance operates very similarly to the one on an iPod, but closer examination reveals that it is instead an actual revolving surface that moves with the user’s finger; there is a select button in its center. The case is composed of glossy black plastic rimmed with chrome covered plastic; all in all, this is one shiny fingerprint magnet – make no mistake about it.

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The back of the phone has the battery door, which is removed by placing each thumb on either side and sliding up. Two external speakers are placed near the upper edge.

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When the i620 is opened, the phone measures 5″ long, and the BlackJack-esque QWERTY keyboard is revealed.The sliding and locking action on the phone’s slider keeps the top half from popping down on the user while keying. The natural shelf formed by the back half of the device, situated behind the raised front, is a comfortable place for the user to rest their fingers while using both thumbs to type.

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Here’s a better shot of that “shelf”, as well as a view of the 2.0 megapixel camera which is revealed when the slider is opened.

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With the battery and door removed, you can see that the SIM card is located in the bottom right of the battery compartment.

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Let’s ring around the device for a bit…

On the left side, there is a covered microSD slot. I can’t help but be very leery of this slot, as Vincent and managed to fry his 8GB microSD when we tried it in Derek’s i620. The deal was that we wanted to check and see if the phone would recognize the full 8GB, so we inserted the card…and then it would not come out…and when we finally got it out (with the help of Jason Dunn‘s Swiss Army USB Flash Drive Knife), the card was dead. Totally not cool. But I digress…

Below the microSD door is a volume rocker.

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On the right side of the phone is a QuickList button, and behind another hard plastic door is the charging /headphone port.

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Drawing your attention to the bottom left corner of the phone, you can see the microphone.

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On the top of the phone there is a power button, and this picture better shows the video conferencing camera. I would love to know how many people actually use this feature. Since it isn’t available here, I can only speculate on how I would or wouldn’t use it, but it doesn’t seem like something I would want – I don’t even use the built-in video camera on my laptop!

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Here’s a close-up of the front panel, which really shows how smooth the front of the phone is, and how the backlit panel doesn’t really have “buttons”.

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I really like the short and stubby design of the phone, but it feels like it might be just a tad too wide for my hand. I’ll decide whether that was a snap judgement over the coming weeks.

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The last thing I want to mention the memory. The i620 is listed as having 128MB ROM and 64MB RAM, but when I looked at the memory management screen on a wiped device, it only showed 46.3 RAM / 22.1MB available and 33.9 ROM / 11.8MB available. Is it just me, or does that seem really low?

Here are the main specifications:

• Network: HSDPA / GSM 900 / GSM 1800 / GSM 1900
• OS: Microsoft Windows Mobile 6.0 Standard Edition
• Display – Type TFT, 65K colors; Size 320 x 240 pixels
• Memory – 46.3 RAM / 22.1MB available, and 33.9 ROM / 11.8MB available; Phonebook 1000 entries, Photocall; Call records 30 dialed, 30 received, 30 missed calls; Card slot microSD (TransFlash)
• Data – GPRS: Class 10 (4+1/3+2 slots), 32 – 48 kbps; HSCSD: No; EDGE: Yes; 3G: HSDPA, 1.8 Mbps; Bluetooth: Yes, v2.0 with A2DP; Infrared port:No;
USB:Yes, v1.1 miniUSB
• Messaging: SMS, EMS, MMS, Email, Instant Messaging
• Browser: WAP 2.0/xHTML, HTML, RSS feeds
• Camera: 2 MP, 1600×1200 pixels, video, flash; secondary VGA videocall camera
• Additional Features – Java MIDP 2.0; WMV/3GP/H.263/MPEG4 player; WMA/MP3/AAC/AAC+/OGG/ASF player; Organiser; Document viewer (MS Word, Excel, PPT, PDF); Built-in handsfree

In a few weeks I will write the second half of this review, which will include my impressions after actually using the i620. If you have any specific questions, be sure to let me know. 🙂

Read part two here.

About the Author

Judie Lipsett Stanford
I've had a fascination with all types of gadgets and gizmos since I was a child, beginning with the toy robot that my grandmother gave my brother - which I promptly "relieved him of" in 1973. I'm a self-confessed gadget magpie. I can't tell you how everything works, but I'm known world-wide for using a product until I have a full understanding of what it does, what its limitations are, and if it excels in any given area ... or not.