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.
Other options include a voice recorder, USB mass storage, Quickoffice and Adobe document viewers, e-mail, a file manager, PC syncing, stereo Bluetooth, and a speakerphone. The SGH-i450 also has support for Assisted GPS, which is a technology that pinpoints your location by connecting to nearby cellular towers or other cell phones. It's sort of an enhancer to standard GPS that is particularly useful when a connection to a GPS satellite isn't available.
The SGH-i450 offers a thoroughly decent music player. As mentioned previously, it offers tactile controls and an easy-to-use interface. Features included an equalizer, repeat and shuffle modes, and playlists. Album art isn't available but you can choose among two color themes and three visualizations. There's an airplane mode for listening to your tunes in flight, and you can send the music player to the background when you're using other phone functions.
But that's not all the multimedia goodies. The SGH-i450 also offers a RealPlayer for viewing videos and support for Adobe Flash. There's also a Video Editor for channeling your inner director and an FM radio with 50 station presets. Keep in mind that the latter feature will work only after you've connected a wired headset to act as antenna.
The SGH-i450 offers two 2-megapixel cameras. The main shooter faces the rear of the phone. It takes pictures in five resolutions, from 1,600x1,200 down to 320x240. Features include a flash, light metering, a digital zoom, a self-timer, a sequence mode, three white balance settings, a brightness control, and four color tones. There's no self-portrait mirror, but there's a secondary VGA shooter just above the display that you can use for those vanity shots. The camcorder shoots in two resolutions (352x288 and 176x144) with sound, and it offers a set of editing options similar to the still camera. In "short" mode you can film for about a minute; otherwise, you can record for as long as the available memory permits. The SGH-i450 has about 35MB of internal memory so we suggest using a microSD card to maximize storage space.
Unfortunately, the SGH-i450's photo quality is disappointing. Images were much too dim and rather blurry, particularly when we were focusing on smaller objects. Also, colors were distorted with reds being way too red. It's just not what we expected from a 2-megapixel camera. Video quality was a tad better, but it was far from satisfying. If you still want to print your photos, you can connect directly to a PC or printer via a cable or Bluetooth.
The SGH-i450 has a WAP Internet browser with support for Java. Another useful feature is an integrated Google search that you can access directly from the standby screen. You can personalize the SGH-450 with a variety of color themes, wallpaper, and a welcome note. You can always download additional options and more ringtones.
We tested the triband (GSM 900/1800/1900) SGH-i450 in San Francisco using T-Mobile service. The version of the SGH-i450 that we reviewed is optimized for the European market so it lacks support for one North American band (GSM 850). That shouldn't be a big issue for most users, but if you live in a rural area you might want to test a phone before buying. Also, while the SGH-i450 is 3G, it supports the 2100 UMTS band, which is only in Europe. As such, it won't support 3G in the United States or Canada.
Voice quality was generally good. The volume level was satisfactory and voices sounded natural. At times we noticed the slightest bit of background noise but it was a rare occurrence. What's more, we didn't have to strain to hear in noisy environments. On their end, callers said we sounded good and some didn't even know we were on a cell phone. A couple of callers said there was a background hiss, but it wasn't a universal assessment. Automated calling systems could understand us most of the time.
Speakerphone calls were quite good thanks to the front facing speaker. It worked best when were in a quiet room but callers could hear us even when we were sitting away from the phone. Our only complaint is that it takes one too many clicks to activate the speaker after you've started a call.
Music performance was quite good, again thanks to the phone's speakers. They provided decent output with loud volume, and the audio quality was more than serviceable. As usual, a headset will provide the best experience so we recommend using one.
The Samsung SGH-i450 has a rated battery life of 5.4 hours talk time and 21.5 days of standby time. It has a decent talk time of 6 hours and 42 minutes. You'll get a bit less battery life when using 3G service. According to FCC radiation tests, the SGH-i450 has a digital SAR rating of 0.457 watts per kilogram.