Samsung’s i325 smartphone offers a less expensive option for business travellers who want a Telecom Worldmode device, but don’t want to shell out for the Blackberry 8830.
Telecom has dubbed the i325 the Samsung Global and its retail price of $699 is $300 less than the 8830.
So what do you get for your money?
There’s a well-rounded feature set on this solidly-built, but unflashy PDA. The Windows Mobile 6 Standard OS makes it easy to use and its performance is efficient for all tasks. However, the screen is smaller than that of the 8830 and the keys less comfortable to type on. A built-in 1.3MP still and video camera is a plus over the 8830, however.
Like the Blackberry, users access Telecom’s CDMA network at home on 800 and 1900 MHz bands, with dual-band (900 and 1800 MHz) GSM and a Telecom SIM card for roaming abroad.
Although it’s not too heavy (110 grams with the battery in) and is comfortable to hold with a rubberised battery cover, it’s quite tall at just over 11.5cm.
The unit comes with two batteries (one for extended life), a USB cable, stereo headset, mains and travel charger. Unfortunately, the headphone jack is proprietary so you can’t use any other models. There’s also a disk of bundled Windows Mobile software including ActiveSync.
Once you get past the three lengthy opening screens from Samsung, Telecom and Microsoft, the 320x420 pixel, 2.3 inch display appears clear but isn’t large. The icons along the top helpfully display the 10 most recently used applications.
By default, the home screen will also show you your day’s appointments and whether you have any new text messages.
The keys on the full keyboard (including number keys highlighted grey) are small and peaked in the middle. The OS isn’t the only reason behind the easy navigation – with back, home and end buttons, a four-way navigator and a scroll wheel on the right; you can always get to where you need to. There are also shortcut keys for the camera and messaging.
There was no problem with call clarity, even on the speakerphone, although there was a slight lag when using the headphones.
There are a range of connectivity paths with USB, Bluetooth 2.0, Active Sync, and options for dial-up, proxy server and VPN (virtual private network) connection. You can also use Active Sync to set up an Exchange server. There’s no wifi though.
The USB, Bluetooth and Active Sync connections made it easy to import contacts from another phone and PC.
The file viewer lets you view most common formats like Word, Excel, Powerpoint, bitmap, JPEG, PDF, PNG and GIF.
Alongside the Windows Mobile Office suite, Media Player, internet sharing and Windows Live, there are some handy accessories such as a converter for currencies and measures, a voice recorder, notepad, calendar and world clock, but the tip calculator isn’t likely to get much use here.
The Bubble Breaker and Solitaire games might be handy though, if you’re waiting in an airport lounge.
Web browsing speeds were reasonably crisp, although the screen size means a lot of scrolling is required.
The i325 can handle a few applications at once, running on Intel’s 412 MHz XScale PXA 270 processor.
It was also quite straight forward to set up an email account on the device (in my case web-based pop 3). If you’re an Outlook user, you can automatically synchronise your contacts and calendar through Microsoft’s Direct Push.
Like the 8830, the i325 is light on storage with only 50MB available, however the MicroSD slot allows expansion up to 2GB.
Considering the camera is only 1.3MP, the quality of the still images was fairly decent, but video recordings were a little jerky at times. There are three, still-image size options; a timer; five, white-balance options; effects and a zoom, but no flash.
Samsung claims three and half hours’ talk time with the standard battery, and nine days standby time.