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Review of GSM-smartphone Samsung i400
Live images of Samsung i400
Samsung is not idling these days and right after releasing a couple of smartphones running on Windows Mobile, it rolled out some Symbian 9.2 (S60 3rd Edition Feature Pack 1) powered devices. The first smartphone of this breed was showcased earlier this year in Madrid at S60 Summit. The Samsung i400 comes in a slider type design; recently the company announced a handful of new S60-powered solutions, all of them being sliders. Samsung’s foray into the market of S60 smartphones is definitely a good thing for the end-users – after all, Nokia’s design, which has been running the show on the S60 market lately, is quite quaint, found unattractive by some. That’s why the Korean company has a real shot at the market and its first offerings clearly show they can give the market a breath of fresh air.
In this review we’ll be taking a closer look at Samsung’s very first S60-based smartphone, namely the Samsung i400. Like we said, this handset enjoys Samsung’s generic slider-style design, there in no challenge in guessing the brand name after having a glimpse of the phone and obviously, there is no way you can confuse it with some Nokia-branded sliders. The model comes in one color, a combination of black and red, which looks pretty unusual and indicates the target audience the company aims at – youth. While the coating proved to be glossy and grease-resistant, it was pretty scuff- and scratch-prone, as we got a lot of fine scratches all over the underside, especially in the center.
The i400’s casing is made of good-quality plastic, so the build quality is fine overall with the close fitting components – you are very unlikely to hear any creaks or spot any loose details.
The handsets measures a comfortable 101x50x15.9 mm and tips our scales at 92 mm, it is relatively wide and sports a pretty skinny profile. It wouldn’t be right to claim it is a men-only phone, for it isn’t this big, it looks more like a unisex model that will fit both men and women. It is very palm-friendly all thanks to its decent size and shapes – it slightly flares out towards the top.
The left-hand spine houses the power button, doubling as the profile switch. A tad below sits the volume rocker and the interface part sealed by a plastic flap linked up with the casing. Even though these keys are pretty tiny, they stick out of the casing just enough to be a cinch to use. Nevertheless, they are relatively soft, so you are likely end up seeing some wrong presses (when the handset is closed and resides in, say, your pocket), but the worst way it might lead – activation of the display backlight.
On the right is the memory expansion slot (microSD, up to 4 Gb) covered with plastic flap as well, and right below is the dedicated camera button.
The top and the bottom ends of the i400 are completely bald.
The display housed on the front fascia of the i400 is a QVGA unit (240x320 pixels, 34x46mm), capable of showing up to 262000 colors. Being quite common among the smartphones running on S60, the only thing we can complain about is its being quite dim, and everything else is just fine. Another thing of note is how the Samsung i400 handles direct sunlight – badly, it gets completely washed out, so you will have a hard time trying to make out what it reads.
The navigation cluster is located right beneath the screen – medium-sized cramped keys are reasonably easy to use, and one thing for sure is that you will never experience wrong presses whatsoever. The four-way navigation key with the OK button inside is pretty sizable and its corners stand slightly above the rest of the cluster, so it is pretty much a breeze to use as well.
The i400 can be easily zipped open with one hand – below the display sits a smallish ridge that makes for comfortable open\close movements, however in most cases you thumb will end up on the phone’s display rather than this thumb rest. The slider comes with a spring-loaded mechanism with the runners made of metal and clad in plastic. Regrettably, this mechanism doesn’t fare very well – when sliding the handset open it kicks in only in the very end, so a great deal of its job is done by you manually. On top of that it turns out to be pretty sluggish when it comes to opening, it lacks speed, but, it might be that it is our prototype is the one to blame, rather than the handset design itself.
Snapping the i400 open reveals the number pad, which differs from the navigation cluster buttons not only in color (red keys and the space between them), but in layout as well. Specifically, these buttons are well spaced out, so you won’t even know what typos are with this type of keypad.
All keys are evenly lit in white, so that all symbols are well visible in any light conditions.
Flipping over the phone’s back you can find the stereo speakers. Obviously, given the short distance separating them, you won’t get “stereo sound” whatsoever, but two speakers have always been better than one, providing more volume.
The rest of the underside’s real estate is occupied by the battery compartment, which sits in the slot firmly. In fact, in our unit it was so tight, that we would not be able to remove it unless we used a sharp object. We really hope the commercial units won’t be built the same way.
Under the cover is a 950 mAh Li-Ion battery. In conditions of Moscow networks the i400 battery life averaged 2 days at 20 minutes of calls a day, up to 2 hours of music and 30 minutes of web surfing. Should you be heavier on its features, you will be down to recharge your handset every day. It takes the i400 around 2,5 hours to charge from empty to full, what is more, it can be charged both via the mains charger or a USB data cable plugged into a PC.
The handset comes in with a 2 Mpix CMOS-camera with no autofocus inside – its lens has been put on the top slide on a bulge, so it gets unvelieved only when you slide the phone open. Next to the lens is a tiny self-portrait mirror.
The camera allows you to take shots in one of the following resolutions:
In all cases you shoot in landscape mode, which is not always handy. You get thumbnails or current settings on the viewfinder screen, but they can be disabled as well. Apart from the image resolution, you can play around with the quality settings as well:
You can also take advantage of the night mode, but, honestly speaking, it is not much of a help. Perhaps, a flash module could save the day, but, unfortunately, the i400 has none. While it has x36 digital doom, I doubt you will be eager to utilize it. In the settings you can also enable some effects (standard, sepia, black-and-white, negative, aqua), adjust brightness and tune the white balance (auto, sunny, cloudy, fluorescent, incandescent) – all these options apply both to single shot and video recording modes.
Also in the Settings is the “Shortcuts” item, where you can see what key does what, and then have all these options on tap without having to enter the menu to change them.
The snaps taken with the i400 won’t blow you away, that’s for sure – for the most part they come out somewhat blurry. What is worse, if you happen to move the camera while shooting, even a tiny bit, you will never get a clear picture. Curiously, even after the display reads “Saved” you will need to keep the camera in the same position for 2-3 seconds more. As we learned in our test, it may be still in the process of taking a picture during this time span. It wasn’t a rare occasion when we were misled by this indication and put the handset aside only to find out that the picture got blurred.
The i400 can shoot video in two resolutions – either 176x144 or 352x288. Clip duration is limited only by the amount of free memory you have left or the camera settings in certain modes. The quality of the videos you get is fairly good, but nothing special about them.
The device is powered by the TI OMAP 2430, with the CPU running at 200 Mhz and doesn't use the graphics accelerator. The volume of user-available memory is 33 Mb, which makes for a pretty good overall performance, no sluggishness or slowly changing menus whatsoever.
In our JBenchmark tests the i400 was a solid performer with the results slightly inferior to those of Nokia’s latest and greatest smartphones and better than their predecessors.
The i400 comes with Bluetooth 2.0 module installed and support for all the major profiles including A2DP for beaming sound to a wireless Bluetooth-enabled headset. The i400 did well on the Bluetooth front, giving us no problems with pairing it up with other devices.
The model also supports USB 2.0 wired connection, making for decent data connection speed.
There is no WiFi module in the i400, but at least the smartphone boasts support for EDGE class 10, which is a good thing already.
Like we said, the device utilizes Symbian 9.2 S60 3d Edition Feature Pack 1 operating system – learn more about it in one of our dedicated reviews.
The themes employed in the handset slightly change the main menu icons design, making it look more Samsung. There are two themes coming preinstalled with the i400, which differ from each other only in terms of the color scheme – one black, one blue, and nothing else to set them apart, regrettably.
Speaking of the default suite of applications, we can’t overlook Picsel Viewer that kicks in every time you attempt to open Microsoft Office documents or PDF files.
The handset provides fairly good reception quality, which is in line with other today’s GSM-handsets and has no frills or crucial letdowns. The earpiece volume and the microphone sensitivity offered by the i400 will prove more than ample for just about any environment. Put to the top volume settings the loudspeaker starts creaking a little, but this seems to be a trait of our particular unit. Thanks to the two separate speakers the i400 boasts quite a decent volume level, however the vibration alert is average strength-wise, so occasionally you might even miss it.
The Samsung i400 is a fairly interesting and cheap smartphone running on S60 platform. Thanks to its expertise in sliders and generic design, the company has everything it takes to succeed in this field. For the time being Samsung banks on relatively cheap models, leaving the market of functionally rich smartphones as Nokia’s domain. For the i400’s rivals, we can think only of the Nokia E65, however the latter is a tad more potent handset and thus carries a heftier price tag.
The Samsung i400 had been expected to start shipping in August, 2007 but due to some reasons the handset got postponed. Probably, it will arrive late in September and retail for around 420-440 USD. But, the Samsung i400’s counterpart for 3G networks, the i520 has already hit the market, selling for 490 USD.
Published — 26 September 2007
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