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i300 - first impressions after less than a day

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#1
fluffcat1

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Got my i300 from the o2 charity auction yesterday ( monday). My first thoughts:

Like all samsungs I've ever had there were two batteries in the box, a 'slim' to make the phone look good and a 'main' to give you half-decent battery life that makes the phone look chunky.

Feels heavyweight plastic, larger than I'd hoped. Nice enough finish on it but a metal casing would have been cooler IMO. Socket covers on the phone are a bit fiddly, especially the headphone cover as this rotates out of the way and pushes awkwardly against the phone with the headphones in place. Sliding cover perhaps?

The headphone connector is a proprietary not-quite-usb-mini but close shape, and there is a set of stereo headphones with handsfree mic as well as a breakout cable with handsfree mic to 3.5mm jack, usefull if you want to use your own sennheisers for example but anything more than sony's short cord fontopias and the cord will be dragging on the ground. I'd have preferred a standard 3.5mm jack TBH, most devices like this are usually let down by poor headphones. At least there is a breakout cable. More than you get from motorola with the e1 ROKR, which I would imagine to be it's closest competitor.

The i300 comes with a dock cradle that can hold the phone while syncing and charge a battery when you're not syncing. A nice touch of the cradle is that the dock connector rolls out slightly for ease of entry / removal of the phone.

The cables don't connect as firmly as some HTC devices although the actual connection seems similar. In the box you get a wall charger, a USB to phone cable, as well as a dedicated cable (micro USB) from the cradle to USB . Bizarrley the cradle also has the longer phone connector so you can also plug the charger in or the other sync cable.

In use, the screen seems a bit small compared to other QVGA devices such as the c550 or sp5m I have, being about 2/3 the width and 3/4 the lenght of the c550's display. It's still very crisp and clear, and I haven't noticed the relative smaller size in use only during the initial startup.

The keypad keys are slanted upwards like motorola's mpx220 keypad, which I like, and are a clear plastic effect. The central scroll dial is pretty cool and definatley takes some getting used to. You can rotate it in a circular motion, clockwise goes down, anti goes up, and the centre button selects, ( a la 1st gen clickwheel ipods where the wheel itself moves) OR you can click the wheel in to navigate up/down/left/right. I think it's 8-way directional as I could hear distinct clicks but I could be worng. Still pretty useful, although the wheel plastic itself has 1 raised point on it and I'd prefer either no ridge or an evenly spaced pattern all round.

My first gripe - pressing and holding the end call button powers the phone off!
Aaargh! How many smartphones does that lock the keypad on? Errr, all them so far! How annoying. It's become sort of a reflex action for me. There is a seperate key with a lock on it on the side of the phone to do this. It only locks the phone, has no other function, the left softkey hash still unlocks the phone. Why not make this a power button and give us our end call button back samsung! Also, the quicklist that usually comes up from a short stab of a power button has it's own button as well. Strange design but I'll get used to it.

Part of the appeal of smartphones IMO is that you can pick any one up and roughly know how to use it once you've mastered one of them. This one is a bit like driving a car abroad. You know roughly how to get from A -> B following the signs but you still need a map just in case....

Which leads me onto the HDD. The unit gets noticebly warm during use - even in standby. Not alarmingly so, but enough to warm my hands this chilly morning. Sweet. Using the media player, during songs there is a noticable 'tick' noise from the unit, but not too bad and you can't hear it with the headphones on during playback even though it's still making the noise externally. There is a direct media button on the left side of the unit that brings up Samsung's own media software. The Samsung media software has a nice status bar plugin on the homescreen to show the current track etc, and you can use the scroll wheel to select different quick functions eg text messages, or to skip tracks. The one downside is that you have to point it at files on the HDD to get it to play them, the windows media player offers to look for files and automatically adds any found into the playlist.

Perhaps I've not done it properly with the samsung app. Like I said, driving abroad - different features. As the manual is a pdf on CD it's difficult to refer to when you're on the bus etc using the mp3 player so most previous smartphone users who upgrade may well just use WMP 10.

With no headphones plugged in the phone makes a reasonable job of playing back through the built in speakers - a twin arrangement but you couldn't call them 'stereo'.

The 1.3 mpx camera seems very good, and is the only smartphone other than the mpx220 to feature a flash ( AFAIK). Startup takes a little time, with about 5 seconds from opening the app until a view comes up. This happens between shots as well and may get a little annoying if you're trying to take lots of pictures quickly.

Transferring files on/off the phone is relatively straightforward. The phone has a 'USB mass storage' mode so that when plugged into the computer it shows up as a 3gb removable drive. This allows you to transfer files more quickly than through activesync, but activesync cannot see the phone in this mode. This mode is ideal if you're putting songs onto the phone for the first time, but in normal use leaving it set to activesync is good enough IMO, and you can browse the HDD through my computer / my smartphone.

Other things to note:

The HDD dissconnects when battery life is below 25%. If you can force this state it may increase standby time? And the messages telling you this are typical broken english.

There is a bundled voice control app ( Voice assist) that seems better than the one with the mpx220.

Picsel viewer is included, although the screen size may preclude it actually being useful.

There is a currency / size / temp convertor application :-)

There is also a time manager with world clocks etc

The Trnasflash slot is externally accesable so you could swop cards on the fly. If you had any. Which you might not bother with as you have a 3gb HD.

And finally, there is an EQ application ( SRS WOW XT)

But I've only had the phone 15 hours so don't know about those apps and I can't yet comment on the battery life....

Photos / updates to follow when I have time.

Is this a good handset? Yes. Phone, web broswer, games player, MP3 player, 1.3mpx camera with a 3gb HDD. For some people the ultimate device convergence. It's my new favourite toy.

Richard

Edited by fluffcat1, 10 January 2006 - 08:22 AM.

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'....It's been out in Japan nearly 3 weeks - where's yours?'

#2
PaulOBrien

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Thanks for the review!

It's a phone I want to have a play with, the small screen size is annoying as is the lack of WM5, but I think the integrated HDD and A2DP support probably make up for it...

P

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#3
fluffcat1

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A2DP support


<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


Oh yeah, forgot about that....

I still need to find my HP bluetooth stereo headphones. From memory they need their own app installing, on ipaqs / XDA's at least, so unsure whether they will be compatible? Else I'll get a pair of motorola ones.

Richard

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'....It's been out in Japan nearly 3 weeks - where's yours?'

#4
fluffcat1

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Some blurry photos...

I consider it's main competitor to be the C550 spv. Samsung may have other ideas mind, especially with the pricepoint the c550 has achieved.

Richard

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#5
fluffcat1

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"I like-big-butts and I cannot lie....." :D

Dunno why that popped into my head... ;)

Richard

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#6
Pondrew

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Excellent review. Post made sticky (thanks Fluffcat1).

Nice looking device, shame about the size (especially with the wierd larger battery). Let us know how you find the battery life (although given you've had it a day and ALREADY experienced low battery 25% warning I'm guessing it isn't good!).

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#7
fluffcat1

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Oh, forgot a major thing - PROCESSOR!

It's an Intel Bulverde, which is based on the more common X-scale processor found in a lot of PDA's and a couple of smartphones ( Voq, Medion / Sagem).
I'd never seen a live one until this phone, it runs Intel's speedstep technology to increase battery life as it allows the CPU to throttle back when not under heavy load. Cool.

Unlike the other Intel based smartphones I have there is no discernable lag scrolling through the menus, which is an improvment over the Voq.

I can't find any reference to clock speeds although the standard freq. is stated as 312MHz upto a max of 624 MHz

http://www.extremete...2129TX1K0000532


Richard

Edited by fluffcat1, 10 January 2006 - 02:59 PM.

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#8
Pondrew

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Wow. That sounds incredibly fast for a Smartphone. The Voq was only(?) 200MHz and still ran considerably faster (in games and apps at least!) then the older TI OMAP processors at 132MHz (such as found in the SPV E200).

Maybe it's NOT just the hard drive that's draining the i300 within 2days with no use ;)

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#9
fluffcat1

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Wow. That sounds incredibly fast for a Smartphone.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


I'm still waiting to find out for definate what speed it runs out. Smartphone benchmarker anyone?

The Voq was only(?) 200MHz and still ran considerably faster (in games and apps at least!) then the older TI OMAP processors at 132MHz (such as found in the SPV E200).

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


Yeah, but all those were throttled back, probably to conserve battery life, and could beat the speeds they were saddled with in their respective software, on paper at least. Keep meaning to try some stuff on the xscale Voq - wonder if the ipaq overclockers would work with a bit of tweaking?

Maybe it's NOT just the hard drive that's draining the i300 within 2days with no use  ;)

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


Samsungs battery ratings are OK, and as the Bulverde has intel's speedstep I can only think the major consumption is elsewhere in the design. The screen's small(er) so it may not be that, but samsung's phones have traditionally ( in my experience) been poor with battery life when compared to a Nokia for example.

A300 - 2 batteries in the box, T100 - 2 batteries, i300 - 2 batteries. Maybe it's their GSM controller?

Richard

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#10
Pondrew

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I'm still waiting to find out for definate what speed it runs out. Smartphone benchmarker anyone?
Yeah, but all those were throttled back, probably to conserve battery life, and could beat the speeds they were saddled with in their respective software, on paper at least. Keep meaning to try some stuff on the xscale Voq - wonder if the ipaq overclockers would work with a bit of tweaking?

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

The reason I felt the Voq was significantly faster (not necesarily then the C500 - I didn't have one then) was from having once run an early version of Muff's SPVMan on it which didn't have a speed cap and discovering it ran far quicker then on the SPV E200! Since then SPVMan's speed has been capped...

Aside from that, I remember noticing video playback was smoother on the Voq then on the E200.

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#11
fluffcat1

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Aside from that, I remember noticing video playback was smoother on the Voq then on the E200.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


Apparently one of Bulverde's strengths is multimedia playback. But with such a small screen I can't see the i300 being the ideal phone to witness this on.

Richard

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#12
chrisc28

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Very nice review and pics, fluffcat1.

The first Smartphone to use the End Call button as the Power switch is the Mitac 8380 I believe. It was damn annoying and I can't believe I still have it with me (my very first Smartphone).

Edited by chrisc28, 10 January 2006 - 06:21 PM.

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#13
fluffcat1

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Battery life. :cry:

Oh dear. Even with the fat battery, after under 24 hours usage standby, 1.5 hours calls, 45 txt sent, 30 rec'd, approx 2 hours mp3 listening at full volume, I'm getting the warning notification and the HD has diss-engaged.

And this is after I' d changed all the timeouts to minimum and reduced the display brightness - by default it's v.bright.

Slim battery is approx half the mAh :evil:

And no car chargers available yet. :shock:

Oh dear, oh dear. :|

Good job I carry a spare Typhoon in the glovebox eh?

Richard

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#14
PaulOBrien

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Doh, this isn't what I want to hear!

I really want to like this phone ;)

P

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#15
Davibona

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And no car chargers available yet. :shock:




You can try to use the same car charger of Samsung SGH-D500 (if you look to samsungmobile.com you see they use same car charger, i'm waiting it from USA and I will tell you if don't work!)

Davide.

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#16
fluffcat1

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And no car chargers available yet.  :shock:
You can try to use the same car charger of Samsung SGH-D500 (if you look to samsungmobile.com you see they use same car charger, i'm waiting it from USA and I will tell you if don't work!)

Davide.

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Great! Thought / hoped it might be a standard samsung connector. Thanks!

Richard

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#17
fluffcat1

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You can try to use the same car charger of Samsung SGH-D500 (if you look to samsungmobile.com you see they use same car charger, i'm waiting it from USA and I will tell you if don't work!)

Davide.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


I couldn't get a d500 charger to fit but the E810 chargers work fine.

Richard

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#18
MurphmanL

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Just bought this phone off ebay, hope to recieve it tomorrow!
*Sigh* its very offputting to read all this negative battery life feedback ;)
I guess the slim battery is hopeless for mp3 listening from the hdd then?
I wonder if an expanded battery (besides the supplied one) with a better design will be release by samsung or third parties?

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#19
PaulOBrien

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Here's something to cheer you up: battery life aside, it's without a doubt the nicest Smartphone i've ever had.

Maybe once I start digging around on the device i'll find some battery life tweaks ;)

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#20
Potatohead

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And no car chargers available yet.  :shock:
You can try to use the same car charger of Samsung SGH-D500 (if you look to samsungmobile.com you see they use same car charger, i'm waiting it from USA and I will tell you if don't work!)

Davide.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


Samsung recommend the CCH200WBEC/STD charger. O2 are just getting them in and i Just picked one up from O2 shop and it seems to work ok ;)

A must if you use TomTom.

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