While a lot of cell phones have music players, not every music phone has done a good job of integrating the phone and music controls into one device. Dedicated music controls, such as those on the LG Muzig LX570 are always a plus, but a great music phone should also feature a way to scroll through a long list of tracks quickly. Besides the iPhone and a few other models, not many handsets have accomplished that feat. But Samsung deserves recognition for its recent SGH-i450. With an attractive dual-slider design and easy-to-use controls, the SGH-i450 offers a lot more than you might expect. The SGH-i450 includes a broad selection of multimedia features, satisfying call quality, and sharp music performance all make for a solid device, even if we weren't impressed with the 2-megapixel camera. The GSM SGH-i450 isn't offered by a U.S, carrier but you can get an unlocked version for about $400.
Compared with most of Samsung's U.S. models, the SGH-i450 breaks the company's slim and silver design. Yes, it's a slider phone, but it's somewhat hefty (3.98 inches by 2.05 inches by 0.71 inch; 3.69 ounces) and it sports an eye-catching blue and white color scheme. It's certainly a nice change and it befits the phone's multimedia prowess. As we said earlier, it has a dual-slider design that's similar to the Nokia N95. If you slide the front face up, you'll expose the numeric keypad. If you slide it down, you'll see the music touch control.
The keypad is flush but the individual buttons are rather large and separated by thin tactile ridges. On the whole it's a convenient arrangement, though the keys are the slightest bit slick. We didn't have any misdials, and the bright backlighting helped in dim situations, but dialing by feel took some acclimation. Rapid texters may want to try the SGH-i450 first. The slider mechanism is sturdy without being too stiff, and the phone feels comfortable in the hand.
The touch control for the music player is unlike anything we've seen on a cell phone before. When you slide the front face down, you'll see a blue arc that's just short of 180 degrees. By swiping your finger up and down the arc you can scroll through the music player menu options, which are arranged along another arc that appears on the display. It's an appealing design as the two arcs together form a full circle. The display isn't a touch screen, so you can't swipe your finger as you would on a scroll wheel, but you can move quickly though the various menu options and a long list of songs. Also, we like that you can press and hold at each end of the arc to keep moving through your song list without lifting your finger.
Though the touch arc is covered in a series of tactile ridges, it takes a few seconds to learn how to use it. When using your fingertip you need to press rather firmly; in fact, be prepared to press harder than you may think is necessary. This motion is particularly important to master when you want to jump only one track on your song list. On the other hand, using your fingernail seemed to work every time. Even with these caveats, it's still an ergonomic control that should satisfy most users.
The SGH-i450 has a bright, vibrant display that supports 262,000 colors and measures 2.4 inches (240x320 pixels). It shows everything well, from text to graphics to photos, and it offers an intuitive Symbian-powered (Series 60) menu interface. You can adjust the brightness, the backlighting time, and the font size. We also liked that when you slide the phone open to expose the music control, the display automatically assumes a horizontal orientation. But it would be even better if it switched back automatically to a vertical orientation after you close the phone.
The SGH-i450's navigation array consists of a larger toggle with a central OK button, two soft keys, a dedicated menu button, a clear key, and the Talk and End controls. Though the array is quite spacious, all of the controls are flat with the surface of the phone. We didn't make any mistakes but we'd prefer something a bit more tactile. On the top of the SGH-i450 you'll find a power control, a speaker, and a covered headset jack. Thankfully, Samsung decided on a 3.5mm jack. On the left spine are a volume control and a microSD card slot, while a camera shutter and the charger port sit on the right spine. That latter also doubles as a headset jack for Samsung's proprietary connation. The remaining features on the exterior of the phone are the camera lens and a flash on the rear face.
The SGH-i450's phone book has room for 1,000 contacts with room in each entry for up to 18 phone numbers; a company name, job title and a department name; three e-mail addresses; assistant, child, and spouse names; a birthday and anniversary; three Web addresses; three street addresses; and notes. You can save callers to groups and pair them with a photo and one of 15 polyphonic ringtones (a bit of small selection for a music phone). Basic features include a vibrate mode, text and multimedia messaging, a calculator, a clock, a calendar, a notepad, a unit and currency converter, an alarm clock, and a to-do list.