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Review GSM phone Samsung SGH-P300
The company of Samsung started creating a new "slim" line in a big way after a great success of Motorola RAZR and the announcement of a blade-series on the 3GSM congress in February. And a desire to stand out and create products unlike of those announced was placed at the head. All the solutions based on the same platform as Samsung D500 technically, and the task was to make them as small as possible.
The smallest phone of the Samsung's line is P300 with its thickness of only 8.9 mm. The dimensions are 86x54x8.9 mm. And the square value is equal to a credit card one, which makes it very unusual. Now I can remember only NEC models similar in form-factor and size, which were not represented on the European market massively and remained exotic things. However this Samsung's solution will be mass and will be available in the majority of countries.
Making a phone miniature means not only placing elements more compact, but also protection from exercise stress and blows. You are more likely to damage a card or a screen in a thin body at fall than in a usual phone. The manufacturers try to make it safe and use metal in the construction. That is a manufacturing necessity but not a try to follow fashion.
A face insertion (covers up to the top edge of the screen) and a battery cover are metallic in the P300. Sides, the top part near the loudspeaker, and partly the back are of usual plastic. This combination of various materials allowed the weight of 79 grams.
The appearance is quite unusual resembling a calculator. And the presence of a leather case even strengthens the similarity. First, the body colour should have been one-colour, and later insertions of various colours were added. The same is about the buttons, functional keys are in graphite colour, and number ones are usual. The model's design is not for everyone, it really distinguishes from everything on the market.
Experienced users can say now that this phone size is too little for integrating a normal battery, and hence the phone will last extremely short. That is right theoretically, however in practice Samsung's engineers managed to integrate a usual 800 mAh Li-Ion battery. And other slim models use the same battery.
And one more battery is included into the kit besides a standard one. However you will not find it in a package box. The battery was integrated into a leather case, and precisely into the main side. And we took the liberty to cut the leather in order to show a metallic battery cover.
The manufacturer claims no characteristics of it; however we tested it in real conditions and measured the values, so we got about a standard battery or a bit less (750-800 mAh). This extra battery is rechargeable only through the phone. And here is where a small problem is. The charger shutter on the right side is too close to the case and thus is hard to open. You should better remove the case, plug a charger in and then put the case on again. That is not very convenient, you see.
Due to the case, the phone gets the weight of 137 grams, which is about twice as big as of the original.
And as the manufacturer claims, the phone is capable of about 3 hours in the talk mode and about 160 hours in the standby. In Moscow the P300 worked for about three days in case of two hours of talks and up to 20 minutes of using other functions (with a case on and the extra battery). And the phone only will work for about a day and a little in case of similar load.
Economizing the room, the developers integrated a light phone work indicator into a navi button, and now it blinks in the standby mode (however you can turn it off from the menu). In a rush for symmetrical button disposition, they are placed rather unordinary. Thus, the phone lacks the fourth key row, which usually contains 0, * and #. And the number of key rows grew to five instead of usual three. The left row contains *, # and a player button. The buttons are placed really uncomfortably. So, that is the pay for the size - you will have to get used to the phone. In fact, you will experience no problems dialing a number, they are more likely to appear when entering a message and navigation (the Ok button is to the left, which is uncomfortable). The navi button is 4D, which also adds no comfort. So, the P300's keypad is only a compromise between the size and design, but no ergonomics.
The screen is oriented up to the keypad - that is horizontal (album orientation). The display is traditional for the latest company models, and has the resolution of 220x176 pixels (35x28 mm). Up to five text lines and three service ones feature the screen. You will surely find it comfortable to read texts in an album mode. The display is 262K with a vivid picture well seen in various conditions, including in the sun (TFT). This is one of the best screens in the picture quality.
That sounds rather strange, but there is no a strap hole in the phone. The handset is supposed to always rest in your pocket or a bag. To tell the truth, the model is mainly targeted at men, women are unlikely to find it nice. The left side features a coupled volume button, and a camera one is on the right side, as well as a charger connector, which allows plugging a headset as well. The connector type is similar to the latest Samsung's models. And a 1.3 MP camera module and a flash are on the back. The module is equal to the majority of Samsung's products, no peculiarities.
The organization of the menu is identical to that of other Samsung's phones except for the screen orientation and a corresponding interface tuning for this peculiarity. The main menu is represented only in one view that is a row of icons. Number navigation using number series is supported. All the submenus are lists and shifting between the submenus is possible by pressing the left or right on the navi pad. You can assign personal functions chosen from the list to the navi button. In general the menu division is quite logical and navigation is not a problem.
Phonebook. By pressing the right soft key, one can obtain the contacts in a form of a list containing all the files both from the phone's and the SIM-card memory. The first name in the list is backlit by default and the number is shown in the status bar (there is a special sign for numbers from a SIM-card). There is a fast search by first letters of a name; the phone can hold more than twenty of those for any possible language. By pressing the OK key, you enter in the view menu of a single file where you may see a small icon in case the name is matched with the image. Any graphic file or the pictures of your own may be used as such image. Up to five phone numbers of various types (cell, office, home, fax, etc.) may be kept for a name with one number as the main contact (it would become the first one by default). The margins are strictly fixed and there may be not two cell phone numbers entered. On the other hand, SMS/MMS can be sent to any number from the phone book once chosen.
Names are displayed in the way you entered them, for example, if you entered Eldar Murtazin, it is displayed exactly in this manner. The length of each line is 20 symbols for any of the available languages. You may opt to alter the language while inserting the text as well.
Files in different languages are sorted out according to a rule - first it will be all files in the local language (Russian, for example), and then those in English. This is rather convenient and habit forming. Taking into account an option of fast language change during the search, it becomes clear that the files in different languages do not impede the work with this phone.
Let us return to the information entered for one name. Besides phone numbers, an e-mail address and a short text memo can be recorded. Any music file as well as composed Mp3's can be chosen as a ring tone for the name. The needed number of groups, the ring tones and the pictures for them can be created very easily.
New names can be entered only through the main menu; the first soft key always calls for the name list only. You can create your own visit card; its format would be the one of a regular file from the phone book.
There can be up to eight numbers in the speed dial list; peculiar is the fact that separate numbers of one name may be in this list as well. The subtitle of the chosen name (but not of the phone type) is displayed on the buttons.
Call lists. Up to thirty phone numbers are displayed in each list. There is a combined list of all the last calls with an icon indicating a call type. Tilting the navi key horizontally, you may switch quickly from one list to another. The date and the time of the call (it's duration is not kept) can be seen for separate files. Calls from the same number are summarized and the number of them is shown opposite a phone number. Detailed view of calls shows time for each call, which is comfortable. As always, the overall time of the calls and their prices can be viewed in this menu (this service has to be installed).
Messages. Working with different types of messages is done through separate submenus. Let us begin with short messages. Up to 200 messages can be saved in the phone's memory; the phone supports the EMS standard compatible with Nokia Smart Messaging. T9 functions very well and is quick and easy to use.
MMS. The interface for multimedia messages is very nice; the messages can be saved in several folders at once and right away. There are no size restrictions for a message to be received although a message should not exceed 295 KB. As for additional services, the rejection of advertising messages, the option of the message receipt in the roaming and the home network should be mentioned. The messages are saved in the general memory since there is no special memory for them.
Mail client. POP3/SMTP boxes and several accounts are supported. Besides the title downloading, the phone can receive the body of the letter. As for attachments, only the graphic files (GIF, JPEG) are supported. A restriction put on the attachment size is 300 KB, which prevents from sending max resolution photos taken with the integrated camera. When sending a letter, you can attach a picture from the integrated camera to it. There is also an option of creating templates. Overall, the mail client is nice although it does not stand out with an immense number of functions.
Organizer. Up to 400 events of four types - meeting, affair, anniversary and others, can be saved in the phone's memory. The day and the time as well as its end are indicated for each file. A signal can be set for the interval during which it has to go off; repetitive events are available for setting. The weekly and the monthly calendar are very convenient with each type of the event having its own color.
WAP. There is a wap-browser version 2.0 similar to some phones by Nokia and Sony Ericsson using http protocol. That means in some networks operator's setting is required.
Applications. MP3 player. An integrated mp3 player supporting random playback, both sequential and cyclic, is available in the phone. Mp3 files can be downloaded into the phone both directly through Bluetooth and through a synchronization program. Files may be of various names and tags (in Russian language as well!). The bit rate of the files is not that important since the phone accepts all the possible formats.
Voice transmission to stereo earphones via Bluetooth-connection is rather an interesting feature and a corresponding profile appeared in the latest Samsung's phones.
The name of the track playing is displayed as well as the overall number of different composition. An equalizer is of an entertaining nature; there are no separate settings (only a selection from classic, rock, jazz and normal). The tracks can be played through the stereo headset as well as through the speakerphone. The volume has ten levels. The user is welcome to create play lists of his/her own. Total memory bank for mp3 compositions forms about 82 MB. The player is neither worse nor better than by other manufacturers. Everything is rather plain.
Dictaphone. You can record up to several hours of voice memos with the number of files being unlimited. The time restrictions for one recording are set by a user and can vary to one hour in duration. All the files are kept in a separate folder in the memory. Records made during lections and negotiations are quite decodable. The recorder can function well during lectures, conferences and presentations. The phone is a partial substitute for a digital tape recorder.
Java World. Up to four MB of memory are available in the phone for various programs. This is a separate memory allotment and is used for Java only. MIDP 2.0 version allows the use of the graphic reach and three-dimensional games. There are two games preinstalled in the phone - Bobby Carrot, Freekick.
World time. World time is displayed for two chosen cities. Everything is nice and simple here.
Alarm clock. The phone is equipped with three alarm clocks. One is meant for mornings and can be set for selected weekdays, however, that is typical of the two others also. For each of the alarm clocks there is a selection of five melodies although mp3 compositions cannot be used here. It is up to a user to indicate in the settings whether the phone would turn on automatically in the time of the event or not.
Calculator. Everything is nice and simple here.
With a converter, you can operate with different units of measurements as well as with the currencies.
Countdown timer. The time can be displayed in both hours and minutes; the clock can be used as a background.
You can request the intermediate result with a stopwatch.
Funbox. All files, such as music, images, videos and sounds are kept here. All the downloaded files are also stored here. One disadvantage here is that sometimes the file is not immediately displayed in the general list and a user has to exit and open the list again.
Settings. That is traditional that you are allowed to choose font colour in the standby mode, protect any section of the phone with a password (messages, short messages, organizer and so on). You may set the time for backlighting on and its brightness.
Themes are absent in the phone and they are replaced by Skins. There are four of them and two of them allow changing not only a colour scheme but a header also, it gets roundish.
Bluetooth. Such profiles as Headset, Handsfree, Serial Port, Dial Up Networking, File Transfer, Object Push, A/V Headset, Basic Printing (version Bluetooth 1.2) are supported. The realization is not ideal, problems with headsets with only one Headset profile may occur, also working with speakerphone kit is not correct sometimes. Bluetooth realization is middling and comparable with Nokia, however loses to Sony Ericsson.
Camera. The camera module is 1.3 MP and equal to the majority of Samsung models of the last generation. The camera is typical and allows taking photos of good quality to show on the display. At the same time photos look not very qualitative on a PC screen.
Six various resolutions are supported:
The compression quality for JPEG pictures is set separately, several types are available:
There are about 5 different sounds for a shutter and the sound may be turned off at all then taking photos won't draw everybody's attention. A default file name, the sensitivity of the matrix (Auto, ISO 100, ISO 200, ISO 400) may be set. I'd recommend using an Auto mode because it works correctly mostly. The difference between sensitivity modes is not felt in usual conditions. You won't see any changes on a real photo.
The timer for selfshooting is set for 3, 5 or 10 seconds.
The matrix mode switches the camera to the lowest resolution (a final picture is 640 x 480 pixels) and you get a picture that consists of 4 or 9 items (2x2 or 3x3). It's a curious mode that may be interesting for experiments.
In a multishooting mode it's possible to select some series, in particular that may be 6 photos with high speed (practically immediate pictures), with normal speed (the period between the photos is a second or less). Also modes with 9 and 15 photos are available. I'll note that the function is interesting as a photofinish at a competition, in real life if moving the camera the photos will be blurry in the majority of cases. The resolution is 320x240 in this mode. Switching to a video mode is carried out by either a side button or through the menu. The screen of the phone serves as a viewfinder, using a navi button you may change the contrast level and use zoom. When the resolution is maximum, the zoom function is turned off automatically. The picture may be mirrored on the screen using side buttons.
There is a traditional number of effects in the phone that may be applied either during a shooting process or while postediting. As for me, the second variant is more acceptable just like applying frames to the photos. We'll just name the effects and you may get acquainted with them in a separate archive (Black & White, Negative, Sepia, Emboss, Sketch, Orange, Aqua, Red focus, Yellow focus, Blue focus). The last three effects distinguish the main colors of the composition but the function is middling in the majority of cases.
The photos are kept in an album and here you may view the data on a certain photo (not above the photo as in previous models). The list is formed fast and indicates the phone name and a small icon. Any photo may be assigned to a name in the phone book or set as a wallpaper just from the album menu. There is a slide show mode, a plain editor that allows adding emotion icons, apply frames and effects to the photos.
The phone records 3GP video and you may choose recording with sound or without it. All the settings are comparable with similar for photos, the same 3 quality levels but the resolutions are different. The maximum one forms 355x288 pixels, and in the video quality is one of the best on the market for today.
There is no any limit on the duration of the record and everything depends on the free memory. Specially for MMS a recording mode that doesn't allow to exceed 100 KB is provided.
Synchronization with PC. Synchronization is made using Bluetooth and a cable. Easy Studio 3.0 is provided on the manufacturer's site.
Productivity. The results of the two Jbenchmark packages are provided (a 3D package is not supported like a corresponding API), the results are low, which is caused by the screen orientation and corresponding interface changes.
The connection quality is high and rouses no complaints, which is typical of modern phones. The loudspeaker provides with a clear noiseless sound. The volume of the 64-tones polyphonic alert is average. However mp3 melodies sound enough loud to be heard from a noisy street. The power of vibra is average. This model doesn't support EDGE.
The P300 turned out a niche product. It is targeted at men, as women will find little interesting in the phone. We should only consider the model a test of power, developing technologies for the future handsets, it won't be popular.
The sales are planned for the middle of January, ad the start price will form about 450-500 USD. The only rival to say is Motorola SLVR L7, however this one has more functions and is equipped with a memory card. The phone has rather a big height, which is a minus making the handset more customary and traditional.
An interesting idea is to integrate a battery into a case. However it is unlikely to become popular on the market, however the fact of creating such an accessory is quite interesting.
Published 08 December 2005
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