Samsung SGH-i780

  • Editors' rating
    7.5 Very good

Pros

  • Tri-band GSM, GPRS/EDGE, 3G/HSPDA connectivity
  • Bluetooth and Wi-Fi
  • Good mini-QWERTY keyboard
  • Two batteries and separate charger

Cons

  • Relatively bulky
  • 2.5in. display

We recently reviewed Samsung's SGH-i640V, a smartphone running Windows Mobile 6.0 Standard; the SGH- i780, reviewed here, also has a mini-QWERTY keyboard, but this time it has a touch-screen and runs Windows Mobile 6.0 Professional. The i640V was a Vodafone exclusive at the time of writing, while the i780 sits in Orange’s portfolio.

Design
The SGH-i780 is a relatively large handheld measuring 116mm tall by 61mm wide by 13mm thick and weighing 120g. If you have small hands this device will feel particularly bulky, and you may want to try it for size before buying. 

The mini-QWERTY keyboard has tall, thin keys that are angled very slightly away from an imaginary line running vertically down the centre. We found the keyboard of the i640V a little challenging, but this one feels much more comfortable to use.

The display is a 320-by-320-pixel TFT touch-screen measuring 2.5in. from corner to corner. If you do a lot of web browsing, or like to read spreadsheet data or view PowerPoint presentations, you may find yourself yearning for a VGA-resolution display that can be used in portrait or landscape mode.

In between the screen and keyboard, where they fall neatly under a thumb for one-handed use, sits an array of buttons giving you shortcut access to various features. On the left, there are the Call and the left softmenu buttons, with End and right softmenu buttons on the right. The End button also locks the touch-screen, while the Call button will activate the device's speaker if tapped during a voice call.

Sitting inside these buttons and slightly raised from their surroundings are the Windows Mobile Start and OK shortcuts. These flank the navigation button, which, unusually these days, takes the form of a mini-touchpad. HP featured one of these a while back, in the iPAQ Hx4700, but it's a rarity these days. The i780's touchpad is small, measuring roughly 9mm square; when you touch it with a finger or thumb a cursor appears on-screen, which you can then move around. You press down on the touchpad to select an operation.

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Despite its small size, the touchpad works remarkably well. It's not difficult to be accurate with the cursor — Samsung calls this the 'fingermouse', and you can choose from a range of cursor shapes and set the movement speed. If you don’t like the cursor, you can switch it off and use the touchpad simply to highlight on-screen options.

We're not convinced that the touchpad/fingermouse is essential when a touch-screen is available, but it could prove useful on a Windows Mobile Standard device such as the i640V.

The SGH-i780 ships with an AC adapter, a USB cable for PC connection, a stereo headset, an application CD and printed quick-start guide. The connection for the headset and USB cable is proprietary at the i780 end, and shares the mains power port. The i780 also ships with two batteries and a battery charge unit that shares the power adapter.

Features
The Samsung SGH-i780 runs Windows Mobile 6.0 Professional and is equipped with 128MB of RAM plus 256MB of ROM. After a hard reset, our review sample reported 161MB of free storage memory. You can add to this with a microSD card, the slot for which is protected by a hinged cover and sits on the right edge of the device.

Local and wide-area communications are well catered for: both Bluetooth and Wi-Fi are integrated, while the i780 is a tri-band GSM device with GPRS/EDGE and 3G/HSDPA support. There's a front-facing camera for two-way video calls, the lens sitting above the screen. The main camera is a 2-megapixel unit that lacks both a self-portrait mirror and LED flash; 2x digital zoom is available though.

A button on the right-hand side starts the camera software on a long press, while on a shorter press it calls up a bar running along the bottom of the screen for controlling music playback.

A number of applications are added to the usual Windows Mobile bundle, including the Opera browser. Opera's key advantages over Internet Explorer Mobile are its tabbed browsing and zooming features. You also get an RSS reader, a podcast manager and a data converter, along with photo and video viewers.

Performance & battery life
The two batteries provided with the SGH-i780 are identical. Testing one of them by asking the device to play music continuously from a microSD card resulted in just short of eight hours of music playback.

The inference is that with both batteries fully charged it should be possible to double this. This makes the SGH-i780 one of the most traveller-friendly handhelds we've seen. Of course, the charger for the second battery is another item to carry, but it's not overly bulky.

Conclusion
Although it worked well enough, we're not convinced that the SGH-i780's touchpad/fingermouse system has a great deal of merit. Fortunately, it doesn't actively hamper usability.

With two batteries and a separate charger, the SGH-i780 could be a wise choice for the mobile professional, although it's a bit bulky and the screen is a touch small for some applications.

 

Specifications

Cellular
Technology WCDMA (UMTS) / GSM
Type smartphone
Integrated Components rear-facing camera
Band WCDMA (UMTS) / GSM 900/1800/1900
Mobile Broadband Generation 3G
Phone Form Factor full keyboard
Form Factor Details touch screen
Service Provider Unlocked
Operating System Microsoft Windows Mobile 6.0
Input Device Touch screen, keyboard
Phone Features
Short Messaging Service (SMS) Yes
Phone Functions Vibrating alert
Details
Integrated Components Rear-facing camera
Messaging & Internet
Cellular Messaging Services SMS
Messaging & Data Features Text messages
Messaging Services SMS
Supported Email Protocols IMAP4, POP3, SMTP
Communications
Communication Features mobile Email client
Data Transmission EDGE, GPRS, HSDPA
Wireless Interface Bluetooth 2.0
Display
Technology TFT
Display Resolution 320 x 320 pixels
Camera
Digital Zoom 2
Media Player
Supported Digital Audio Standards MP3
Memory
Supported Flash Memory Cards microSD
Digital Camera
Digital Video Formats H.263, MPEG-4
Digital Zoom 2
Header
Brand Samsung
Product Line Samsung SGH
Model i780
Packaged Quantity 1
CE Input Device
Type keyboard, touch sensitive screen
Features
Phone Functions vibrating alert
Additional Features microSD card slot, 64 MB memory, Touch screen, GPS
Digital Player (Recorder)
Supported Digital Audio Standards MP3
Flash Memory
Supported Flash Memory Cards microSD
Optical Sensor
Sensor Resolution 2 megapixels

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