Yet again Samsung jumps ahead in the race to produce the world's thinnest cell phone with its new SGH-X820. Billed as the world's thinnest candy bar phone--though not for long, we're sure--the SGH-X820 is even trimmer than the already superslim Samsung SGH-P300. While we readily admit that we're a little tired of the thin-phone fad, we also admit that the SGH-X820 is quite attractive. The black color scheme and the sleek shape result in a sharp, sexy handset that will win glances on the street. Features are decent, with Bluetooth, a speakerphone, and a 2-megapixel camera, yet we couldn't help but notice the lack of an external memory slot and voice dialing. Also, while the keypad buttons are user-friendly, the navigation toggle is tricky to use. The lack of a supporting U.S. carrier means the SGH-X820 won't come cheap ($329 from Dynamism.com), but thin-phone fanatics may be willing to fork over that amount.
At 4.4 by 1.9 by 0.27 inches, the Samsung SGH-X820 lives up to its razor-thin promise. It slips comfortably into pockets, and at 2.4 ounces, it won't weigh you down. The internal antenna ensures there's no deviation from the phone's smooth lines, though the camera lens causes a slight but hardly noticeable bulge at the top of the SGH-X820. The handset also has a solid construction, but we're beginning to notice that the thinner a phone gets, the more awkward it feels to hold against your head for extended calls. Also, the slim shape means it can be hard to feel the vibrate mode when the phone is in your pocket.
The 1.8-inch diagonal (176x220 pixel) TFT display lives up to Samsung's usual standards. With support for 262,000 colors, it's bright and vibrant and richly displays photos, games, and the user-friendly menus. Yet it's hard to see in direct light. You can change brightness, backlight time, and font size, style, and color.
Below the display is the navigation array, which we didn't care for. While we understand that tricky controls and thin phones tend to go hand in hand, the SGH-X820's five-way toggle is just too difficult. The OK button in the center is flush with the rest of the toggle, and there's no clear separation between the two controls. As a result, we made several mistakes when attempting to navigate through the menus and select functions. The toggle doubles as a shortcut to four user-defined functions. You also get two soft keys, the talk and end/power buttons, and a dedicated clear key. Though they are flush with the phone as well, their large size makes them easier to use. We also liked the design of the alphanumeric keypad. The individual buttons are large and well spaced, and they're lit by bright backlighting. Like all other controls, however, they're also completely flat. Completing the exterior of the SGH-X820 are a volume rocker on the left spine and a covered headset/charger jack and an unmarked camera shortcut on the right spine.
The SGH-X820 comes with a generous 1,000-contact phone book (the SIM cards holds an additional 250 names). Each entry holds four phone numbers, e-mail addresses, and notes. You can organize callers into groups and pair them with a phone and one of 20 polyphonic (64-chord) ring tones (the phone also supports MP3). Basic features include a vibrate mode, text and multimedia messaging, a world clock, a calculator, a currency and unit converter, a timer, a stopwatch, an alarm clock, and a calendar. Higher-end offerings include a speakerphone, a voice recorder, TV-out functionality, PC syncing, e-mail support, and full Bluetooth with a stereo profile. We were hoping for voice commands and dialing as well, but sadly they're not onboard the SGH-X820.