The Samsung i320N offers sleek and sophisticated looks in a very thin package, and comes with a solid set of features. Unfortunately, a poorly designed keypad, a lack of 3G connectivity and below average battery life diminish what could have been an excellent smart phone.
- Two batteries included, thin design, good multimedia features, solid display.
- Keypad design, no 3G connectivity, below average battery life, some below average specifications, poor camera, no included microSD card.
A solid but not outstanding smart phone, the i320N is lacking in a few key specifications, most notably the lack of 3G support and slower Bluetooth and USB interfaces.
Price$ 899.00 (AUD)
The Samsung i320N runs the latest Windows Mobile 2005 Smartphone Edition operating system, so a hoard of applications, such Windows Media Player 10 Mobile, Internet Explorer, MSN Messenger and document viewers for Word, PDF and PowerPoint files are included. Samsung has pitched the i320N as a business phone, but it is quite capable of handling multimedia tasks as well. For instance, Windows Media Player can synchronise music and video from your desktop media library to your i320N and the rear-mounted dual speakers are more than loud enough for an individual to listen to music. A set of headphones are included in the sales package, but the i320 uses a proprietary connection, so you can't connect your own headphones instead.
Push email functionality is included and like all Windows Mobile smart phones, it's very easy to configure for mail servers that run Microsoft Exchange 2003. The i320N also works with standard POP3 email accounts and will auto-configure settings for the likes of Hotmail, Gmail and Yahoo! Mail.
The i320N is a tri-band GSM/GPRS/EDGE (900/1800/1900 MHz) smart phone, but there is no 3G support. This is disappointing in the current climate, especially since High Speed Downlink Packet Access (HSDPA) phones are beginning to roll out. For connectivity, the i320N offers infrared, USB 1.1 and Bluetooth 1.2, but we would have liked to see the newer, faster 2.0 versions of each. As such, transferring data via Bluetooth and USB isn't going to be a very speedy affair.
Although the i320N runs the standard Windows Mobile interface, Samsung has added a nifty extra feature; a status bar that sits across the bottom of the screen. Scrolling through it shows media, messages and emails, missed calls, scheduled appointments and other shortcuts. This is an excellent addition as users don't have to use the menu as often as they normally would on a smart phone.
The i320N has a 1.3 megapixel camera, with 6x digital zoom and a flash. However, the flash has a very short range, so night time photography is near impossible. The photos themselves are what we'd expect from a 1.3 megapixel camera, lacking in detail and clarity. They are fine for a few quick snaps, but not good enough for any real photography. As most new phones are shipping with 2 megapixel cameras at the bare minimum we were surprised to see only a 1.3 megapixel camera used on the i320N.
Photos can be saved to the phone's internal memory (120MB) or on a microSD card. Unfortunately, no microSD card is included in the sales package, so you'll have to factor the cost of this into your purchase. We also found the placement of the card slot awkward, as you have to remove the battery to access it.
The i320N runs fairly swiftly thanks to a 400MHz processor, 160MB of system ROM and 64MB of RAM. It's one of the faster Windows Mobile smart phones we've reviewed, so switching between applications is effortless.
Measuring 115mm x 111mm x 59mm and weighing just 95g, the i320N is one of the slimmest smart phones on the market that includes a full QWERTY keyboard. It's finished in a matte black plastic that hides fingerprints well.
The keyboard is a little awkward to use as each key is very small and requires a firm press to activate. There isn't much space between each key either, so typing was forcibly slower than we'd like. The rest of the controls are fairly normal, with a five-way navigational pad, two selection buttons, answer/end call keys and dedicated buttons for home and back. There is also a volume control on the left side and shortcut buttons on the right of the handset.
The i320N display, although an unorthodox size, is clear and bright and was easily readable in direct sunlight. The QVGA screen has a resolution of 320 x 240 pixels and its vibrant, clear display is ideal for taking photos or watching videos.
Battery life for the i320N is rated at 3.5 hours of talk time and 140 hours of standby according to Samsung's figures. However, Samsung conveniently includes a second battery in the sales package, complete with a hard plastic cover to protect it when it's not in use. An AC charger is included in the box, but you can also charge the phone with the USB cable when it's connected to a PC.
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