Posted April 7, 2004 by Lisa Gade, Editor in Chief
Update, July 2004: Verizon has released
the Smartphone 2003 upgrade for the i600, and new units ship
with the 2003 OS. If you have an i600 running 2002, you can take
it to a Verizon store to have it upgraded or download the upgrade
from http://vz2.smithmicro.net/samsung/default.tpl and
do it yourself. Sprint now offers the Samsung i600 running the 2003
OS. Update 2006: Verizon no longer offers this phone.
Looking for a mobile phone with serious PDA features,
but don't want to hold a Pocket PC Phone Edition to your ear? For
phone-centric users who need a phone first and a PDA second, Microsoft
Smartphones make a great deal of sense. They're no larger than
the average cell phone, feature one-handed operation, have standard
phone creature comforts yet can sync easily with your desktop and
offer slimmed-down versions of standard Pocket PC built-in applications.
MS Smartphones do not have touch screens, nor can they run Pocket
PC software. Instead you'll use buttons on the keypad to navigate
the phone's apps and controls, and you'll need to get MS Smartphone
versions of 3rd party apps if you wish to add software to the phone.
Both Pocket PCs and MS Smartphones are part of the Windows Mobile
OS family, and you will likely feel at home with an MS Smartphone
if you're comfy with Pocket PCs.
The Samsung i600, offered by Verizon Wireless
and Sprint in the US, is a strong offering with an attractive,
sturdy design, great accessory bundle in the box and a fast processor.
The screen is outstanding and the unit works both for voice and
high speed data on Verizon and Sprint's 1xRTT Express and Vision
Networks. Unlike the Motorola MPx200, the i600 supports SDIO for
wireless networking cards, GPS and more (when MS Smartphone drivers
become available for these cards). Unfortunately, neither the i600
nor the MPx200 have Bluetooth or a camera.
The Samsung i600 and the GSM Motorola MPx200 offered
by AT&T Wireless were the first Microsoft Smartphone devices
to hit the US market in the Fall of 2003, and three new GSM models
have been introduced in the 2nd half of 2004 (the Motorola
MPx220 from Cingular, the Audiovox
SMT5600 from AT&T and the Sierra
The Samsung i600 has a traditional clam shell design
that's similar to their i500 Palm OS smartphone
and some of their other clamshell offerings. The phone is quite compact
and light, with a squared-off design and a champagne finish that has
dark gray accents. The unit feels very solid and well made, with no creaks,
groans or excess play in joints or mating surfaces. The 176 x 220 pixel
color display sits on the top shell, while the keypad and directional
pad are located on the bottom shell. An external 128 x 32 pixel monochrome
display on the outer clamshell indicates caller ID, time, date, signal
strength, roaming status and battery level. This external display is
a bit larger than the MPx200's 96 x 32 pixel external display.
Like the Samsung i700 Pocket
PC phone, the i600 has two speakers: the larger speaker for system sounds
and the ringer is located on the back side of the unit, while the speaker
for voice calls is just above the display with the mic below the keypad
(same as standard clamshell phones).
In terms of ergonomics and usability, the i600 has
an excellent keypad. The large backlit keys are easy to see and press,
and the Send and End buttons are located directly on top of the number
pad area, as with standard cell phones. The navigation and control pad
lives above the keypad, and here you'll find the two MS Smartphone action
buttons closest to the display, with a Home and back button below. The
d-pad features single-piece construction that rocks easily in all directions.
A large OK button is nestled inside the d-pad and all control pad buttons
are backlit in blue.
On the left side you'll find the 2.5mm stereo headset
jack, volume up/down buttons and the voice recorder button. The i600
comes with a stereo headset mic, and you can use standard 2.5mm mono
mobile phone headsets too. The SD card slot, phone control launcher button
and Internet Explorer quick launch button (press and hold this button
to launch Voice Signal instead) are located on the right side. The unit
has a stub antenna, with an external antenna jack on the back. The IR
port is on the top edge of the phone and the sync connector is on the
What comes in the box?
As always, Samsung gives us a good bundle in the box.
The package includes the i600, both a standard 900 mAh AND an extended
1700 mAh Lithium Ion battery, a desktop cradle with USB sync connector,
a stereo earbud/mic headset, hand strap, case with belt clip, a 16 meg
SD memory card (with bundled apps), an A/C world travel charger, a companion
CD ROM that has Microsoft ActiveSync and Outlook 2000 and a printed guide.The
travel charger can plug directly into the phone or into the cradle and
will work most places in the world (100 to 240V, 50-60 Hz).
Wireless Voice and Data
The Samsung i600 is an all digital phone that works
on 800 and 1900 MHz CDMA bands. It doesn't work on the analog AMPS network— analog
capable phones are disappearing from Verizon Wireless' lineup as they
move the entire US network to digital. The i600 supports Verizon's 1xRTT
high speed data network which averages 60 to 70k in most areas, with
maximum burst speeds of 144k. Web pages optimized for phones and PDAs
load very quickly on the i600 using the 1xRTT network, and non-optimized
pages take between 30 and 50 seconds to load. If you're not in a 1xRTT
service area or don't wish to use that connection method, you can use
the older and slower QNC 14.4k network instead. Voice quality, connection
reliability and signal strength are excellent on the i600 just as they
are for its big brother, the Samsung i700
Pocket PC Phone Edition.
You can power off the wireless radio to use the phone
in flight mode. In addition, you can use the i600 as a modem for you
notebook: set the phone to external data call mode and use the included
cradle to connect the phone to your notebook.
Standard cell phone creature comforts abound,
and you'll be able to speed dial, voice dial and use one of six
profiles for the phone. If you enter the first few digits of a
phone number, the phone will display all matches, and filter the
matches as you enter further digits. Simply use the d-pad to select
one of the matches to dial. You can assign up to 98 speed dial
numbers from your contacts list (0-99 are supported, but 0 and
1 are reserved). Speed dial #1 is assigned to voice mail and 0
does nothing. Using Profiles you can customize the ringer volume,
ring type, alarm type, alarm volume and notification method. The
phone comes with six profiles and you can customize a profile to
suit your needs. Phone security features include keypad lock, phone
lock, password protection and call restrictions.
For voice dialing the i600, like the i700, comes
with Voice Signal software. This is an impressive application that
allows you to dial any contact by saying his or her name. If the
contact has more than one phone number listed, Voice Signal will
ask you which location, and you'll state the location (home, mobile,
work). To start Voice Signal, you'll press and hold the i button
on the right side of the phone until you hear a tone. Voice Signal
is then ready to accept the following commands: Name Dial (this
means you're going to say the contact's name), Digit Dial (you'll
speak the numbers you want dialed) and Quick Dial (train Voice
Dial to call someone based on the phrase you record, it needn't
be their name). You can also do a name lookup without dialing.
I'm amazed at how well the software works— with no fine tuning
it recognizes my commands consistently and can even handle non-Western
names. Since Voice Signal parses your entire contacts list, there
is no hard limit on how many voice dial entries you can have. Sweet!
Horsepower and Expansion
The i600 has a speedy 200 MHz PXA250 XScale processor
and 32 megs of RAM, beating out the 132 MHz MPx200. That's a lot
of processing power for a phone-centric device, though MS Smartphones
don't feel faster than regular feature phones running on slower
processors. Why? The Windows Mobile OS has more overhead than a
regular phone, but you do get a great many features in the deal.
Like all MS Smartphones, the i600 has an SD slot
that accepts SD and MMC memory cards for expansion. The Samsung
supports SDIO, which means you'll be able to use SD WiFi, Bluetooth
and GPS SD cards when MS Smartphone drivers become available.
Display and Battery
The i600 has an incredibly vibrant and bright
color display that looks almost too good to believe. It's a 65k
color 176 x 220 transflective display, and that resolution is standard
for MS Smartphones. In addition, the i600 has a monochrome external
display that shows the date, time, roaming status, signal strength
and caller ID info.
Samsung is quite generous with batteries for
their Palm OS, Pocket PC Phone and MS Smartphone offerings. All
come with both a standard and extended battery. Nice touch, since
the first thing many of us buy is a spare battery. This compares
well against the Motorola MPx200, which comes only with a single
standard battery. The included cradle has a slot to charge both
the phone and a standard or extended battery. The standard 900
mAh battery will last most users through the day. If you talk for
over 1 hour per day, watch movies, play MP3s and surf the web for
an hour, you'll need to charge the phone every day. If you talk
on the phone for several hours each day, use the phone for long
data sessions and use the PDA features, you may want to use the
included extended battery. It's about twice as thick as the standard
battery and will increase the phone's girth, but it's a great option
to have when you're on the road or using the phone heavily.
PDA Functions: PIM and Multimedia Applications
Microsoft Windows Mobile for Smartphone OS has
a set of applications that provide features for both power users
who crave multimedia and gaming abilities and business users who
need to share and sync their existing data with the handset seamlessly.
All MS Smartphones come with apps that are equivalent to Outlook
on the desktop, along with MSN Messenger and Windows Media Player
for Smartphone. For PIMs, the phone can sync both to Outlook and
MS Exchange servers for email, Tasks, Contacts and Calendar. If
you want to do some serious data entry, Samsung sells a flexible
roll-up keyboard for the i600.
Inbox- This email
client supports POP3, IMAP and SMTP servers and offers authentication.
It plays nicely with Exchange server and you can sync emails to
and from the desktop as well as send and receive them directly
from the phone.
Pocket Internet Explorer- This
browser supports WAP, HTML, and cHTML (compact HTML). It also supports
web pages with images and sounds, SSL and cookies but it does not
support frames. The navigation is made easy via lists of favorite
links, most recently-visited web pages and pages in History. The
Options in the browser allows you to modify various settings, such
as allowing cookies, playing sounds, showing pictures, selecting
networks, etc. It may not be a desktop or full-fledged PDA browser,
but it's very handy for getting info from the Web when you're on
Contacts- The handset
can store a very large number of records. The Contacts app on your
phone provides many convenient ways for you to send messages, dial
numbers and access web sites directly from the Contact records.
While the Contacts is well integrated with the phone features,
it can't sort or search. Contacts displays your records sorted
alphabetically by last name. While you can't search by company
for example, you can filter by category.
are three views in the Calendar application: Agenda view, Week
view and Month view. You can enter a new event in any of these
three views. Other than basic schedule information (date, time,
place), the Calendar app provides you with more fields for additional
info. These fields allow you to specify a reminder time, re-occurrence,
status (tentative, busy, free, mark as private) and notes. In addition
to entering a calendar event on the phone, you can synchronize
the events from your Outlook Calendar, import from iCal (a web
calendar server for Windows) or vCal, and even import items from
attachments in your email messages, SMS messages and more.
Tasks- You can use
the Tasks list for keeping track of your to-do items. You can create
these items on the phone or sync them with your desktop Tasks in
Outlook. You can mark any of the items on the list as complete
or incomplete, and you can delete the items. You can also set reminders
for these to-dos.
ActiveSync- If you
use Outlook on your desktop, you will love ActiveSync, which is
the same syncing software that comes with Pocket PCs. In fact,
if you have both an MS Smartphone and a Pocket PC, you can sync
each of them using the same Outlook and ActiveSync installation.
ActiveSync for the desktop is included on the companion CD, and
is built into the i600. Install the syncing software on your desktop,
connect the cradle's USB cable to your PC, place your phone in
the cradle, and you are ready to go. ActiveSync is a flexible program
that allows you to specify which types of PIM info you wish to
sync and how often you wish to sync it. Your Outlook email message
can be synchronized to your phone via either your desktop Outlook
Inbox or a Microsoft Exchange Server. Both email messages and calendar
items will only be synchronized within certain parameters (for
example, messages from last 3 days or calendar items for two weeks,
etc.) while all contacts can be synchronized to your Samsung.
Windows Media Player- Yes,
MS Smartphones can play stereo MP3 and streaming video. Using the
included three-ring stereo headset, you can enjoy pretty high quality
sound in Windows Media Player. The SD/MMC card slot comes in handy
for you to load up a card full of multimedia content—insert
the card and you're ready to listen to music or view videos through
WMP. Of course, this will enable you to take full advantage of
rich media web sites that serve WMP format movies. This pocket
version of WMP supports most of the Windows Media video formats
and MP3 playback. If you are making your own video and MP3 files,
make sure that you check the manual and use the codec versions
that are supported in Smartphone's WMP.
T9 Mode- MS Smartphones
support 3 input modes for entering text and numbers: Multipress,
T9 and Numeric. The first two are used to enter text while the
last one is used to enter numbers. You can switch modes by holding
down the Asterisk (*) key while inputting data. We've all used
the Mulitpress and Numeric methods on other phones, and some users
will be familiar with T9. When you enter text in T9 mode by pressing
a numeric key, T9 will analyze your key presses and attempt to
complete the word for you. If the T9 database doesn't have certain
words, you can go back to Multipress mode and enter the word. Once
the word is entered, it will be stored in T9 database as well.
A compact, well made powerful phone. Worth a
look for those who are phone users first and PDA users second.
Pro: Excellent Outlook syncing: no
more wearing out your thumbs entering contacts and calendar items
into your phone. Attractive, clean design. The phone and antenna
are very sturdy and should hold up well under heavy use. Gorgeous
screen and fast 200 MHz processor. Excellent voice quality and
great signal strength on the Verizon Wireless network. Data speeds
on the 1xRTT Express Network are quite good. Con: No
Bluetooth and no camera. There's a caller ID bug (caller ID info
may be slow to appear when a call comes in). Samsung has a fix
for this on their web site: caller ID will appear quickly, but
will only display the number and not the name of the caller. The
2003 OS upgrade should fix the caller ID bug.
with activation of a new contract)
color LCD, 16 bit, 65K colors. Screen resolution:
176 pixels wide x 220 pixels high. External monochrome
LCD for caller ID, date, time, signal strength and
: Lithium Ion rechargeable. Comes with both a standard
900 mAh and a 1700 mAh extended battery.
MHz PXA250 XScale processor. 32MB Flash ROM, 32 MB
SDRAM. Can be expanded using SD and MMC cards.
size: 3.5" x
2.1" x .9". Weight: 5 oz.
the Box: CDs, manual, phone,
cradle, case, regular and extended battery, world
charger, stereo headset mic with call send/end
button and 16 meg SD card with bundled apps.
800/1900MHz bands and 1xRTT (Express Network) for
high speed data. No analog.
Built in speakers (one for system sound and ringer,
the other for phone earpiece). Integrated
mic. Supports alarm sounds, LED alert and vibrating
alerts. Stereo output
through 3 ring headset jack, MP3 playback. Voice
Mobile for Smartphones operating system. PIM applications
include Contacts, Calendar and Tasks. Calculator
and file manager are included. Internet Explorer
for surfing web sites, email client that works with
Outlook. MSN Messenger is included. Windows Media
Player included for playing MP3 and streaming video.
Voice recorder included for recording voice memo
and more. 3rd party apps include: Voice Signal voice
dialing software, eWallet, Links golf game, Westtek
ClearVue suite for viewing MS Office docs and PDFs,