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Samsung i780 review: Samsung i780

It's not hard to tell that Samsung is aiming the i780 squarely at Blackberry users. It's got a similar Qwerty keyboard and touchscreen display to those found on RIM's devices, but Samsung has also added a neat touchpad controller and HSDPA support. The phone is available for free on Orange's business tariffs, but has it got what it takes to tempt long-time BlackBerry fans away from their much loved devices?

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7.5

Samsung i780

The Good

Good connectivity; great mini-touchpad; good keyboard.

The Bad

Non-standard power connector; below-par camera; big and bulky.

The Bottom Line

We like the i780's mini-trackpad and keyboard, but we're not so keen on its bulky dimensions and we still find Windows Mobile 6 quite awkward to use. If you're a Windows Mobile fan, it's worth a look, but we doubt it'll win over many Blackberry users

Strengths
Style-wise, the i780 is a fairly typical smart phone with a 64mm (2.5-inch) touchscreen perched above a mini-Qwerty keyboard. It differs beneath the screen: where the typical D-pad would be, there's a tiny touchpad instead. The touchpad lets you control a mini-cursor and you can make selections by pressing down on the pad. It takes some getting used to, but after a while, we found that it makes the included stylus redundant.

Samsung has also improved the keyboard from the i600, its previous messenger phone. While the keys now have a more raised feel and are easier to type on, it's our opinion that they're still not as good as the keyboards found on Blackberry devices.

The phone runs Windows Mobile 6 and in addition to the usual applications, it's also loaded with a handy RSS reader and the Opera Web browser. On the connectivity side, it's pretty well specified. There's Wi-Fi for accessing the Web -- when you're within range of a wireless router or hotspot -- and speedy HSDPA for when you're out on the road. Naturally, Bluetooth support is also included and there are two cameras so you can make 3G video calls.

Thanks to the 624 MHz Marvell processor, the phone feels relatively speedy -- for a Windows Mobile device, at least -- and you get 256MB ROM and 128MB RAM for storing your data and applications. There's also an SD card slot should you need more room.

Battery life is impressive: you'll can squeeze around seven hours talk time from it. Samsung has also included an extra battery in the box, plus a separate charging unit for it, so you shouldn't be caught short when you're on the move.

Weaknesses
Although the i780 is relatively slim, it's also quite tall and wide. The result is that feels unwieldy to hold and is quite bulky when stored in your pocket. It's certainly not as ergonomically pleasing as a Blackberry.

The main camera is also fairly basic. It's limited to a 2-megapixel resolution and it lacks a flash to help it out when shooting in dim conditions. Pictures tend to look washed out. We also don't like the way it uses a proprietary Samsung power connector. After all, who wants to carry an extra power lead when they could instead just use a mini-USB lead instead?

Conclusion
The i780 is a decent enough smart phone. It has a good screen and the combination of the keyboard and mini-trackpad makes it more usable than other Windows Mobile messengers we tried. However, we found it bulky and Windows Mobile 6 isn't the most intuitive operating system around. Those who already use Windows Mobile may be tempted by the i780, but we doubt many Blackberry users will be won over.

Edited by Shannon Doubleday