(Pocket-lint) - The smartphone market is dominated and controlled by BlackBerry and Treo isn't it? So what is Samsung, who has always only concentrated on creating consumer friendly devices, doing launching a smartphone with full QWERTY keyboard?
The Samsung SGH-i320 to give it is full name, is Samsung's first super-slim smartphone with a full QWERTY keyboard.
Candy bar in form, it measures 11.5mm thin and weighs just 95g, looking like a flattened BlackBerry Pearl, the phone uses the Windows Mobile 5.0 operating system rather than a Samsung interface and this of course enable users to access Microsoft applications including Outlook for push email, Word, Excel, and PowerPoint.
Because of the flattened design, it means that the screen is a large 2.2-inches in size, however surprisingly the screen doesn't dominate the design, that award goes to the full QWERTY keyboard which is easy to use, although will be fiddly for those with larger thumbs.
Above the keyboard is the usual array of keys and buttons found on most Samsung models such as the d-pad, call and reject buttons. Two further buttons - a back button similar to that found on Sony Ericsson handsets and a home button help with navigation when you are buried deep in the Windows menu system. However users used to the BlackBerry interface will miss the lack of a rocker switch to scroll down the menus on the side of the device.
Not completely loosing its consumer roots the i320 also features a 1.3MP digital camera on the rear of the phone and comes with speakers so you can play back music via the unit's media player. Tracks, and images can be transferred to and from the phone via a Micro SD card although you do have to remove the cover to access the slot.
Of course being that thin does have its downside mainly battery life, and compared to other smartphone devices the battery life is very poor, however perhaps realising this problem, Samsung has actually bundled another battery in the box and a way of charging said battery without it being in the phone so you can always have a back up to hand.
It's still a pain having to remember to carry the other battery around with you, but at least it’s better than not having another one to turn to when you're out and about.
Overall the i320 is a very nice smartphone to use and offers a viable alternative to BlackBerry and the Palm Treo.
Samsung has created a consumer friendly looking messaging device that will suit most business users. Heavy business users will miss the lack of 3G or Wi-Fi connectivity, but like the BlackBerry Pearl the i320 isn't about that.
In use, the keyboard is a touch fiddly to use, but nothing that isn't overly difficult, while the screen is crisp and clear to use.
Out of the two we would still personally prefer the BlackBerry Pearl, however that isn't to say the Samsung i320 wouldn't come a close second - it's certainly better styled and designed that the HTC range of phones.