Most PDA phones usually come with a large touch-screen display that lets you doodle, write and select options via a stylus and some form of handwriting recognition software. However, there are those who are more at home with a regular QWERTY keyboard as it is more familiar, faster and sometimes more responsive compared to writing on the screen or using the conventional T9 keypad. The new Samsung SGH-i320N is designed to cater to this group of users who would rather have the same suite of functions as their touch-screen brethren. Running on Microsoft Windows Mobile 5.0, the latest SGH-i320N is perhaps the ideal phone for businessmen who often access their email and documents on the move but also enjoy kicking back with great multimedia functions too.
Just recently, Samsung released three 'Ultra Edition' slim phones of different form factors. In our opinion, the SGH-i320N should also be part of the series as it is only 11.5mm thick. For a smart phone with a full-fledged QWERTY keyboard, it should be considered ultra slim. The keypad on the phone is designed for use with your thumbs, as each key is curved up left or right from the middle section to maximize space and operational ergonomics. The side buttons on the left controls the volume while the buttons on the right is for voice note selection, but hold down the same button and it will also start the phone's camera function. One feature that would probably be missed however, is the ability to jot down notes or short messages since the phone doesn't employ the use of a touch screen and stylus input. A shame though, but we can live with it.
Unlike the Nokia E61 and Sony Ericsson M600i business phones, the SGH-i320N comes with a built-in 1.3-megapixel camera (inclusive of flash), adequate enough for personal pictures and videos or for taking candid shots of friends for its photo caller ID feature. Sadly, a lot of the lovely photo effect functions found in the Ultra Editions are unavailable on the SGH-i320N.
To the sides of the camera are two speakers with SRS WOW and Digital Power Amp technology, which are beneficial for audio playback. Samsung terms them as 'dual speakers' and just so you know, they can be quite loud.
The 2.2-inch TFT screen supports a QVGA resolution and like most Samsung phones, is bright, clear and sharp. Viewing photos, movies and documents on the screen was a pleasure thanks to the gorgeous display. For testing, we uploaded a compressed video of the Halo Wars game trailer and found playback to be smooth. If you don't mind watching videos on a small device like the iPod 5G, the SGH-i320N should be right up your alley too, albeit it has a tad smaller screen. For uploading media content, Windows Media Player 10 is supported.
We like the Samsung SGH-i320N's unique slim chassis with built-in QWERTY keyboard. It has a few useful features for mobile business needs like push mail, a pocket office suite, Internet Explorer and MSN Messenger, but our gripe is that it doesn't support faster connectivity like 3G or Wi-Fi. Multimedia capabilities such as the music playback (supports album art displays), camera and camcorder functions worked wonderfully though, and it won't disappoint you there. Even though the phone already comes with a whopping internal 120MB memory space, it supports expanded memory via a miniSD memory card as well, but because of its design, you can only access the miniSD slot after removing the battery cover.
The Samsung SGH-i320N in some ways looks a lot like Motorola's Q smart phone and is probably its direct competitor. Though the latter has only been released in certain regions, you can be assured that Samsung will be introducing this slim QWERTY smart phone to most parts of the world sometime in October this year. So if you are keen on one, keep your eyes peeled for the advertisements soon.