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May
07

Gadget Review: Samsung Blackjack (SGH-i607)

Samsung Blackjack A couple of months ago, I traded in my Palm Treo 700W for a Samsung Blackjack and I’ve fallen so deeply in love I’m thinking of formalizing my bond with my new phone and, since I live in Massachusetts, I think it’s legal.  The phone is small, relatively fast, has a great keyboard and fairly good reception.

On this last part, the phone doesn’t get perfect grades because part of my phone swap meant that I had to leave behind Verizon and adopt Cingular/AT&T.  Verizon has much better coverage in the places that I spend time so this phone, by definition, doesn’t do as well.  I can say that compared to other GSM phones I’ve had in the past, though, this phone’s reception seems quite good.

When scanning the web for thoughts on this phone, it’s clear that people are confused that Windows-powered mobiles come in two varieties – Pocket PC and Smartphone.  There are some differences in OS/software functionality between the two, but the primary difference is that the Pocket PC version is for phones with a touch screen and the Smartphone version is for phones without it.  So, saying that a “complaint” with the Blackjack, which is a Smartphone, is that it doesn’t have a touch screen is silly, since it’s not even in that category.

Since I rarely used the touch screen in my Treo, not having one was hardly a loss.  In fact, to accommodate the lack of touch screen, the Blackjack is fully setup for one-handed operation with loads of programmable buttons and a scroll wheel (ala Blackberry).  Certainly, this is a matter of personal preference, but I think this is a much better setup.  My desire is to have a phone primarily with messaging functionality a close second (SMS and email).  Other functions like looking at someone’s 100 slide Powerpoint presentation are much lower priority.

So, after a couple of months, here are the pros and cons I’ve observed:

PROS

  1. Light and amazingly thin
  2. Good keyboard with easy to access special characters
  3. Many function buttons on top and sides of device – all easily programmable
  4. Scroll wheel
  5. Great Bluetooth stack – connects with everything when and where I want it to
  6. Windows Mobile (personal preference, but I like the fact that there are tons of software packages available and I can even write them myself pretty easily)
  7. Good reception – both voice and data (I get 3G most places and fall back to EDGE and GPRS as necessary)
  8. GSM – simply a better way of doing things and makes the phone international
  9. SD card slot – an extra GB of memory for storing stuff makes life a bit easier

CONS

  1. Smaller display than I’d like
  2. Horizontal aspect ratio of display – I’d prefer a vertical orientation
  3. Not available on Verizon’s network (I know this contradicts item 8, above, but Verizon’s reception in the US is just better)
  4. The stupid lump on the back of the phone is for the useless (to me) camera.

There is no WiFi on the device.  I don’t consider it a con, but some might.  High speed 3G/EDGE reception is better these days, so there’s connectivity almost everywhere.  Also, I’ve dropped this thing several times . . . on pavement.  Other than some scratches, it’s no worse for the wear.

One final note is about battery life.  The one warning I got from people before moving to the Blackjack was that it had crappy battery life.  Samsung even ships an “extended” battery with it to deal with the problem.  My observations have been that battery life has been pretty good.  I’ve never used the extended battery since the standard one is all I need for a full day out of it with constant use, and a couple of days in standby.  MUCH better than the 700W.  For sure, this isn’t what you’d expect from a phone that’s just a phone, but to me, if I can get all the functionality that this device offers with one recharge in the evening, I’m a happy camper.

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 May 7th, 2007  
 Will  
 Gadgets  
   
 18 Comments

18 Responses to Gadget Review: Samsung Blackjack (SGH-i607)

  1. I’ve had a Samsung Blackjack for a few months and am also quite happy. I agree with you about the battery life – it’s perfectly fine for my use. The battery drains a bit faster when I have my Bluetooth headset coupled, but that’s to be expected. I have it set up to poll three different email accounts every 15m, and still haven’t had to use the extended battery (an ugly beast, if you ask me).

    When shopping around for a phone, I would have preferred a WiFi phone, but nothing really had the right mix of price and features. I almost always have my laptop with me; WiFi on the Blackjack really doesn’t buy much. On the other hand, I love that I can couple the Blackjack to my laptop and use it to connect to the Internet. It’s surprisingly fast!

    I like the fact that there’s a camera, but it’s annoying that I have to go digging for the photo software whenever I want to take a picture. My old Sony Ericsson had a dedicated photo button which made it easy to take quick shots.

    I have had a few dropped calls when driving on the highway (mostly on the Mass Pike heading towards Worcester, I recall). It also occasionally needs a power cycle – the net access flaking out is the primary indicator.

    My sync setup is complicated because I’ve got a Mac, but Google Calendar to iCal to the Blackjack works just fine (third party software handling each step).

    My biggest concern: the flip-open cover over the power port doesn’t feel like it’s long for this world.

    I am addicted to Bubble Breaker (or “Ball Buster”, as it’s known in my household).
    Aron

  2. I’ve had a Samsung Blackjack for a few months and am also quite happy. I agree with you about the battery life – it’s perfectly fine for my use. The battery drains a bit faster when I have my Bluetooth headset coupled, but that’s to be expected. I have it set up to poll three different email accounts every 15m, and still haven’t had to use the extended battery (an ugly beast, if you ask me).

    When shopping around for a phone, I would have preferred a WiFi phone, but nothing really had the right mix of price and features. I almost always have my laptop with me; WiFi on the Blackjack really doesn’t buy much. On the other hand, I love that I can couple the Blackjack to my laptop and use it to connect to the Internet. It’s surprisingly fast!

    I like the fact that there’s a camera, but it’s annoying that I have to go digging for the photo software whenever I want to take a picture. My old Sony Ericsson had a dedicated photo button which made it easy to take quick shots.

    I have had a few dropped calls when driving on the highway (mostly on the Mass Pike heading towards Worcester, I recall). It also occasionally needs a power cycle – the net access flaking out is the primary indicator.

    My sync setup is complicated because I’ve got a Mac, but Google Calendar to iCal to the Blackjack works just fine (third party software handling each step).

    My biggest concern: the flip-open cover over the power port doesn’t feel like it’s long for this world.

    I am addicted to Bubble Breaker (or “Ball Buster”, as it’s known in my household).
    Aron

  3. I forgot to mention the door on the SD card and the power. Amazingly frail. I also wish they had used mini-USB instead of their proprietary connector. Sure, the one they use is thinner, but it seems like they could have fit a standard mini-USB in its place.

    I believe that you can assign one of the buttons to the camera. I haven’t done this – I’ve used the camera once – but it should be do-able.

  4. I forgot to mention the door on the SD card and the power. Amazingly frail. I also wish they had used mini-USB instead of their proprietary connector. Sure, the one they use is thinner, but it seems like they could have fit a standard mini-USB in its place.

    I believe that you can assign one of the buttons to the camera. I haven’t done this – I’ve used the camera once – but it should be do-able.

  5. I agree about mini-USB. I already have boxes full of single-use cables.

    One more minor annoyance is that you need to tell Windows Mobile that it’s going to act as an “ActiveSync” device or as a USB modem. This means that anytime I want to use the phone as an Internet connection for my laptop, I need to go mess with the connection settings. This sort of thing should not require manual configuration – expose two USB devices or something!

    Thanks for the tip about assigning a button to the camera – I’ll look into that.

    Aron

  6. I agree about mini-USB. I already have boxes full of single-use cables.

    One more minor annoyance is that you need to tell Windows Mobile that it’s going to act as an “ActiveSync” device or as a USB modem. This means that anytime I want to use the phone as an Internet connection for my laptop, I need to go mess with the connection settings. This sort of thing should not require manual configuration – expose two USB devices or something!

    Thanks for the tip about assigning a button to the camera – I’ll look into that.

    Aron

  7. Will
    what did you not like about the blackberry. Its easy, works, great reception, works internationally.

    Mukund

  8. Will
    what did you not like about the blackberry. Its easy, works, great reception, works internationally.

    Mukund

  9. Mukund,

    There are some nice Blackberry devices for sure. I like Windows Mobile which makes writing apps for the device pretty straightforward and the integration with Outlook (without Exchange) is basic. I also like the form factor of the Blackjack – no Blackberry comes close. The Pearl is nice, but I like a full QWERTY keyboard.

  10. Mukund,

    There are some nice Blackberry devices for sure. I like Windows Mobile which makes writing apps for the device pretty straightforward and the integration with Outlook (without Exchange) is basic. I also like the form factor of the Blackjack – no Blackberry comes close. The Pearl is nice, but I like a full QWERTY keyboard.

  11. Will –

    I took my BlackJack to the West Coast for a conference/vacation trip. I was trying to travel light, so I packed only the USB cable. Wall warts reduced by one — bonus!

    Wrong.

    If the battery drains all the way down, the USB cable will _not_ come to your rescue. Searching around implies that the phone needs enough juice to boot in order to charge over USB.

    This means you always need both single-use cables: USB cable for synching and wall wart in case your battery dies. Annoying.

    Aron

  12. Will –

    I took my BlackJack to the West Coast for a conference/vacation trip. I was trying to travel light, so I packed only the USB cable. Wall warts reduced by one — bonus!

    Wrong.

    If the battery drains all the way down, the USB cable will _not_ come to your rescue. Searching around implies that the phone needs enough juice to boot in order to charge over USB.

    This means you always need both single-use cables: USB cable for synching and wall wart in case your battery dies. Annoying.

    Aron

  13. Does anyone know how to sync your Blackjack II device to iCal on a MAC???

  14. Does anyone know how to sync your Blackjack II device to iCal on a MAC???

  15. there is a camera button for the blackjack 2. Its on the keypad as a little camera on the bottom.

  16. there is a camera button for the blackjack 2. Its on the keypad as a little camera on the bottom.

  17. Alan said,

    Wrote on September 15, 2008 @ 7:29 pm

    Does anyone know how to sync your Blackjack II device to iCal on a MAC???

    Yes try syncmate by eltima software. eltima.com
    syncs ical contacts and more.

    enjoy!

  18. Alan said,

    Wrote on September 15, 2008 @ 7:29 pm

    Does anyone know how to sync your Blackjack II device to iCal on a MAC???

    Yes try syncmate by eltima software. eltima.com
    syncs ical contacts and more.

    enjoy!

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