This smart phone features the power users want, but its design could use a little work. It' one of the more powerful smart phones to debut this year. Featuring Wi-Fi, EV-DO, and a dual keypad, the Samsung SCH-i760 packs enough connectivity and productivity features to keep up with any mobile professional. Unfortunately, several design quirks limit the appeal of this business tool.
Below the 2.8-inch display is a full numerical keypad, which we prefer to using the touchscreen. This design element alone makes the SCH-i760 more attractive on paper than devices like the Mogul by HTC. But other design decisions backfired; the silver Send and End keys are on either side of the display, which is awkward. And the stylus that comes with the SCH-i760 fits so snugly in its holster that removing it while the phone was closed pulled open the keyboard. Another bummer: the two soft menu keys on both the front and on the inside of the device don't line up with their corresponding onscreen functions.
One thing Samsung did get right is the QWERTY keyboard inside, which is backlit. Although it's roughly the same size as the Mogul, the buttons on the SCH-i760 are more spaced out and have a soft-touch feel to them, which made typing easier.
Regardless of who we called, audio quality was excellent. The phone also worked well with Bluetooth stereo headsets, pairing easily. The SCH-i760's speakerphone was extraordinarily loud; load a microSD Card with music (it can play MP3, AAC, and WMA files), and you can easily annoy everyone in a train car. Video playback was also pretty good on the device, which supports H.264, WMV, MPEG-4, and ASF codecs.
The SCH-i760's real strengths lie with its business applications. The phone comes with Office Mobile, so you can create and edit Word, Excel, and PowerPoint documents. The Picsel browser is the one app that uses the SCH-i760's touchscreen the way it was intended, letting you zoom in on photos and documents, such as PDFs, with finger swipes.
With 802.11b/g Wi-Fi and EV-DO Rev. 0 built in, we had no trouble getting online. Over Wi-Fi, Internet Explorer loaded CNN Mobile in about 5 seconds, and NYTimes.com Mobile and YouTube Mobile loaded in about 3 seconds each. Verizon Wireless' EV-DO network was nearly as quick: YouTube Mobile loaded in about 10 seconds. Other sites, such as CNN Mobile, Mobile ESPN, and NYTimes.com Mobile, opened in roughly 5 seconds.
Setting up and accessing e-mail accounts was a cinch, too, requiring little more than entering an e-mail address and password. The SCH-i760 supports Good Mobile Messaging, MSN Messenger Mobile, Wireless Sync, and WM Direct Push.
Battery life was okay, but talking with Wi-Fi on drained the standard battery in about 2 hours. We recommend using the included extended battery, which lasted much longer. Although it adds nearly an ounce to the weight, it's only slightly bulkier.
If you can overlook its design flaws, the Samsung SCH-i760's best features--call quality, comfy keyboard, and Wi-Fi--make it a decent choice for road warriors.
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