Our shiny new Samsung BlackJack arrived today. Otherwise known as the Samsung SPH-i607, this is a GSM Windows Mobile Smartphone that competes with the T-Mobile Dash and Motorola Q. It features a landscape 320 x 240 display that's very sharp and pretty, though the Dash's is a bit larger with even more pleasing color. The phone runs Windows Mobile 5 with AKU 3.0.2 for all the latest enhancements and bug fixes. This is an MS Smartphone, not a Pocket PC Phone Edition, which means it lacks a touch screen. It's offered by Cingular in the US and should be available on Nov. 16th for $199 with a 2 year contract.
The BlackJack is a close cousin to the import triband Samsung i320 we reviewed in September. The BlackJack/ i607 makes some important improvements in keyboard layout and battery life over the i320. And of course the BlackJack is 3G and quadband .
It's got 3G with HSDPA on the US bands (850 and 1900MHz) and quad band GSM for voice and 2.5G (EDGE) data. Reception on Cingular's 3G network in the Dallas metro area has been superb, beating even the Cingular 8525. Voice quality is also excellent and call volume is louder than most GSM phones.
The HTC S620 (Dash) and the BlackJack
Side view of the BlackJack and the HTC S620
On the performance front, the i607 has a dual core TI OMAP1710 processor that's no stranger to MS smartphones. The OMAP1710 ships in a 220MHz configuration. Sorry, it doesn't get the i320's 416MHz processor, but that's probably a good thing when it comes to battery life (the i320 doesn't do well there, and 3G would only make it worse). The phone feels middle of the road in responsiveness and is average for video playback using media from our own library. It absolutely does well with CingularVideo, though the switch from web browser to Windows Media Player Mobile is sometimes a little strained (the phone has added codecs for Windows Media Player Mobile to handle Cingular's Real format video files). Don't ask me why this isn't on the Cingular 8525 as well . The phone has 64 megs of RAM and 128 megs of flash ROM with 55 megs free for storage.
How does the device look and feel? It looks really slick and certainly fits the "thin is in" requirement. It's about the same weight as the Dash and a bit taller. They're close enough that I wouldn't make a buying decision based on size or weight. The Dash wins on feel in hand thanks to its curve and rubberized coating. But our staffers prefer the Samsung's keyboard, roomy and easy-going d-pad and general one-handed operational ease.
The BlackJack has a jog dial on the side which you can use to scroll through windows, and an action button. While the HTC S620 and Dash's JOGGR strip is cool and innovative, the Samsung's scroll wheel is easier to use and isn't accidentally doing undesirable things.
The phone comes with a charger, USB sync cable and two batteries. Noteably absent are the stereo earbud headphones with mic usually included with HTC-manufactured Microsoft phones . Given that the phone uses a proprietary combo sync/charge/headset jack, I'd really have liked to see these included. Guess we'll just have to make do with Bluetooth headsets and Bluetooth stereo headphones. Speaking of which, the BlackJack has Bluetooth 2.0 with A2DP support and Bluetooth Printing Profile among others.
So far, the verdict is a thumbs-up. And we've very impressed with Cingluar's many recent and upcoming additions to their PDA and smartphone lines. We'll have our review out within a week, and in the meantime, feel free to post questions here.
-------------------- Lisa Gade Editor in Chief, MobileTechReview
First Look with Photos: Samsung BlackJack Windows Mobile Phone for Cingular