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

It’s been a month since I unboxed and posted my first impressions of the Samsung SGH-i620. If you haven’t already peeked at that portion of this review, then go ahead…I’ll wait.

In that month, I have to admit that there have been a few times when I have wanted to toss the phone through my office window. Those of you who haven’t had the (dubious) pleasure of being around me as I trudge through a new product’s testing might not know that this is the phrase I use when I am repeatedly frustrated by a product that I really want to like. And I really did want to like the i620.

You see, I have been intrigued by this little fatty since last year, when Mike Temporale first posted about it on Smartphone Thoughts, and then Alison emailed to make sure I had seen it. I liked the idea of a smartphone with a full QWERTY keyboard that could slide down to give a form factor similar to the Samsung Blackjack, the Palm Treo, and other similarly styled devices. The sliding keyboard design meant that the i620 would perhaps be fatter than some of these other devices, but the minimized height looked attractive.

Samsung Mobile Phones & Gear

It’s almost as if the Samsung has a dual personality: part fashion phone, yet all smart. You’ll see what I mean in a moment…

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: 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

The only glaring omission is that list is perhaps WiFi. I won’t argue whether that should be a deal-breaker for anyone or not, but I will say that in this day of kitchen-sink devices and expected inclusions, WiFi geneally scores pretty highly on the list. I think it was an unfortunate omission.

As I mentioned in the first part of this review, the i620 measures exactly 3.73? long x 2.34? wide x 0.69? thick with the extended battery in place. The standard battery only shaves 0.03″ off the thickness, so I can’t think of any good reason to ever remove the extended in its favor. However, having the extra battery was good security for days when I was away from my desk for extended periods of time, but overall I found the extended was enough to get me through a typical day. After using the phone for a while, I decided that I did like the way it felt in hand. It’s a little bit blocky, but I like that the phone can be used even when closed; opening the slider usually gets a second glance from anyone nearby.

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It’s a shame that this phone is HSDPA capable, and I live in an area that can’t take full advantage of it. Ah well. I do live in an area where built-in GPS might be very nice, but alas, there is none.

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One of my biggest frustrations with the i620 were the touch-sensitive buttons on the front of the device; they look really cool, but they are a bit inconvenient. What drove me crazy was how easy it was to accidentally hit one of these buttons, and wind up being navigated to somewhere I didn’t want to be; I had to learn that the back button was my friend. Slightly more obnoxious was that when in a call, I couldn’t hang up by simply touching the red button. Instead, it was necessary to press the middle action key first, then press the red button. My last gripe was that when my fingers were really cold, the touch buttons on the front did not always react. It takes a little while to get used to these little quirks, and while I am not saying that they are or should be deal-breakers, I did find them to be annoying. The scroll wheel built into the four way D-Pad with center select button was a huge selling point, it glides through selections like butter; it’s amazingly fast.

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One feature that really impressed me was the slider. It has a very snappy action, firmly clicking the device open or shut, and then locking into place. When the slider is closed, the device buttons automatically lock, so you have to tap the power button on top to access them. When the slider is open, the i620 snaps to attention and is ready for action. The QWERTY keyboard is incredibly usable, anyone that likes the Blackjack keyboard should be immediately familiar with the key size and layout; the only major difference is the £ symbol over the H, versus the $ sign most of us in the United States are used to, and the functions of some of the bottom row keys. The edge of the top slider portion acts as sort of guide when texting, keeping your fingers on the keys below. I was concerned that it might make the top row harder to use, similar to how the soft keys are when the HTC TyTN II (AT&T Tilt) is in the tilted position, but I did not find that to be the case.

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When opened and in use, the keyboard and top slider buttons are fully backlit with strong white light.

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Even though the Samsung uses Windows Mobile 6 (CE OS 5.2.1439), the today screen has a nice scrolling design that alludes to the new 6.1. One handed operation is flawless with the scroll wheel and center select button combination. The visual indicators for email and messages…

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…appointments…

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…media…

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…alarms, and

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missed calls are all easily accessed by scrolling the wheel, or clicking the D-pad.

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Once you get past the main screen, everything will look familiar, if you have used Standard before.

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The i620 includes both Internet Explorer and Opera, built in Podcast and RSS managers, as well as Windows Live services.

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I was impressed with the device’s camera, actually quite a bit more than I expected to be. I liked how the lens is hidden and protected while the slider is closed, and only exposed when needed.

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But what I really liked me was the way the camera performed. Granted, it’s a somewhat typical two megapixel with video and an LED flash, but what impressed me was the zoom feature accessed by using the i620’s scroll wheel…

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…and the number of options available.

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Granted, the best shots will be taken in good light, but I think they are quite passable. All of the photos shown are thumbnails, so click to see them full size.

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Here’s where the camera quality wasn’t that exciting: zoomng in too much resulted in rather grainy photos; but if this happens to be the only camera you have with you when something interesting occurs (or if you are compulsive about updating Flickr via email as I can be), then I think you will find the camera more than acceptable. To illustrate my point, the next three photos are all taken with the zoom on or near max.

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The Samsung i620 is a little bit harder to define than I expected it to be, as it seems to be striving to be more of a fashion phone with full smartphone features; something of a really brainy pretty-boy, if you will. This device does have some quirks, and some may not like the siding halves, but for those who like a hidden keyboard but prefer a vertical orientation(i.e. Treo, Blackjack, JAQ3, etc) versus a horizontal keyboard orientation (i.e. Tilt, Mogul, PPC-6700, etc) this may be the idea compromise.

The Samsung SGH-i620 is available from various online retailers.

MSRP: Various prices, the median seem to be about $550
What I Like
: Slider is snappy and phone feels balanced when it is open; thumb board is comfortable to use do to natural finger rest created when device is open; the smoothly scrolling wheel is a nice change from a simple D-pad; camera is protected and hidden when slider is closed; included extra battery and cover
What Needs Improvement
: The front touch panel is gimmicky, and it doesn’t always properly respond; no WiFi; GPS would be nice


How to Hard Reset: Turn the phone off, hold the D-pad in the down position, then while holding it turn on the phone. Enter the password 1 2 3 4

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.

9 Comments on "The Samsung SGH-i620 Windows Mobile Smartphone Review, Part Two"

  1. Nice review Judie. I agree that it’s a shame they didn’t include wi-fi, as I have it in my i600. One of the guys at work has the i620 and he said that the front buttons took a bit of getting used to. He seems to like it though.

  2. I’m glad to hear that I’m not the only one who didn’t immediately get the buttons on the front. Otherwise, it’s a nice device! 🙂

  3. I never liked the look of the i620, it just seemed so fat and awkward compared to the sleek i600/i607, and I still stand by that 😛

    Get yourself a BlackJack II and be very happy 😀

  4. Front keypads are rather rare in Windows Mobile devices so it’s always nice to see a new one.

    I can definitely relatethe the touch sensitive buttons which I also encountered during my review of the Glofiish M800. It does take getting used to.

    What I cant get used to is lack of WiFi. This, I would say, is the deal breaker for me. It’s the same reason I didn’t get the Treo 750 as well even though it’s pretty cheap now.

    Guess I’ll have to wait for an imate Ultimate 8502, Treo 800w or Velocity Mobile’s 111.

  5. I used to be in the “no WiFi, no buy” camp, but since I now have HSDPA and plenty of data to use every month it’s less of an issue.

    I agree though, there is no reason they can’t include it other than for lining the carriers pockets. It would cost them maybe a dollar to add that tiny little chip in.

  6. Yours has a LED flash for the camera? Mine does not…are you sure?
    I have stuffed together a little infopage for the i620, some tips and tricks there: http://www.aspekt1.net/ms/i620/

  7. Negg, I have already sent the i620 on to the next reviewer, so I can’t check. I took those specifications from Mobile Planet / Expansys, and now you have got me paranoid. I am going to check with the person I sent it on to, and I will update as soon as I know for sure. Thanks for pointing it out. 🙂

  8. Hey!

    Thank you for a nice overview. Actually I am planning to buy this device, but I am wondering has someone tested Spectec’s WiFi SD cards with i620? Do they even work with Samsung i620 and if yes then what type of SDW (SDW 820, 821, 822 tai 825)card do you recommend to buy?

    Thank you in advance,
    VeikkoK

  9. wi fi thing is just normal..how can someone make a windows based mobile phone and miss out on this anymore.I hate it..and the very look of SGH i620 doesn't compensate for that. Palm treo is just another example.I think HTC guys are doing a much better job.I haven't yet been able to adjust with the fact that wi fi is missing..otherwise this fat thing could have been really running.

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