Samsung SGH-X820

Ever wonder who makes the worlds thinnest phone? I have the answer and the secret lies with the Samsung SGH-X820. The razor thin design comes in at 6.9 mm and cuts through the air with its mind-boggling thinness. The X820 is the size zero of mobile phones and should only be seen with the likes of Paris Hilton or any of the other third-world-skinny superstars in Vogue magazine.

Holding this phone in my hand, there’s not a lot to it. Weighing just 65g, they still managed to shoehorn a 2 Megapixel camera on the back and 262k colour screen. There’s not many features that the X820 hasn’t got that you would find in your normal sized hand sets.

Technical Specification

Bluetooth, USB, TV out, mp3, video recording/playback, personal information management, 80MB memory and internet/email connectivity, all that in something thinner than 7 cm.

What’s more is the Tri-Band compatibility and EDGE data capabilities. The 80MB of flash storage that is built in to the handset is plenty for storing your contact and calendar details and even enough to store a few camera shots, however with no facility to put in a memory card you are limited by the built-in memory capacity.

Design

The boffins at Samsung really had to think about the design. Making anything this thin is undoubtedly going to introduce some problems. Glass fibre material was used to reinforce the plastic and even with this, you can still with slight effort, bend the phone ever so slightly. This is an actual designed feature that the engineers put in to prevent the phone from snapping if it were to experience such abuse.

The quality of the build is amazing considering what we’re dealing with here. No creaking or flexing or anything. Its stability and strength is pretty stunning.

The camera on the back means the thickness does increase for the top 1 cm portion of the handset. This is naturally down to the components used for the 2 Megapixel camera. So although Samsung don’t take this in to consideration when stating it’s the world’s slimmest phone, lets not take anything away from the fact that this phone is still incredibly thin.

On the left side of the X820 you’ll find the up/down keys or volume keys in most scenarios. The opposite side encompasses a shortcut key, which is used to activate the camera and above that is the data/charging/headphone/TV-out port.

Samsung allow you to have the X820 in any colour, just as long as it’s black. Since black is the colour that makes you slimmer, maybe that’s why they’ve chosen to go with this single colour choice? What would make this handset even more desirable is having it available in a range of colours.

Display

The 1.9-inch screen has a resolution of 220 x 176 and is able to display up to 262k colours. Using the camera demonstrated that the display is capable of sharp and rich images. When in picture taking mode, I was surprised as to how good the refresh rate and the quality of the image from the 2 Megapixel camera.


My only gripe in this area is that because the aim of the game for Samsung was to make the thinnest handset, the display size had to be cut down. It’s not the easiest or nicest to write messages on because it doesn’t show as many lines of text that you would expect to typically see.

Keypad

Texting on this keypad is just as easy if not easier than other handsets and this is a surprise because I wasn’t expecting much if any tactile feedback whatsoever. Key sizes are large with clear labeling.

Using the D pad to move about when writing messages or navigating menus did highlight some issues. The size of the arrow keys themselves are just too small and sometimes you end up hitting the center button which is often the enter key in most menus. It was difficult to use this most of the time when stationary, I can imagine myself having issues in pushing the right key when I’m on the move. I think if they made the left and right soft keys and the call and end buttons a tad bit smaller and increase the size of the D pad, then problem solved.

Considering what the X820 represents, I think the minor quirks about the keypad can be forgiven for what is otherwise a perfectly functional input system.

Connectivity

Samsung is keen to push the Stereo Bluetooth functionality in both its mp3 players and mobile phones. The X820 has such a feature to be able to transmit audio over Bluetooth wirelessly to a headset in stereo. Unfortunately this doesn’t come included in the package, what comes in the package is a wired hands free headphone kit that plugs in to the side port.

Using the Bluetooth file transfer, I was able to achieve about 30 Kb/s with my MacBook Pro. It was really straightforward to set up and talk to my Mac and I was able to get photos and audio between the two devices with relative ease.

The USB data connection includes software that allows you transfer files over to your PC if you haven’t got Bluetooth. It also allows you to synchronize content across such as contacts and calendar.

Software

The menu system works well, the look and design of the whole thing has an element of sophistication. Icons have a Web 2.0 look to them with soft colours and reflection. It’s not like anything I’ve seen recently on Samsung phones where colours tend to be really in your face, but with the X820 the right balance of colours and layout is present. They finally got the picture, that less is more when it comes to menu design.

Although the X820 isn’t a 3G handset, using the web browser provided quick response and download times using the EDGE GPRS data capabilities. Browsing larger sites demonstrated a slight slow down when scrolling but these tend to be sites that are heavy in graphics, which are typically not mobile device friendly anyway.

Usual bundled applications include World Clock, Calculator, Calendar, Alarm Clock, Stopwatch, Timer, Unit Converter and some basic games.

Being able to use the X820 for a variety of different functions on a daily basis was a good test of the software stability, since if it’s going to crash or cause problems it’s going to be when you’re using it in real-world scenarios. I’m pleased to report that the software sits very well on the X820 since I experienced no software bugs or issues throughout my time using the handset.

Battery

Samsung rates the battery life at 2.5 hours talk time and 210 hours standby. The Li-Ion battery has a 630-mAh capacity, which admittedly isn’t anything special, but it is because when you take the battery out, it’s literally wafer thin. If the overall thickness of this handset is only 6.9 mm, take in to account the thickness of the shell and circuitry and you can start to get a real good idea of just how thin the insides of this handset are. Every time I think about it, my mind is just baffled as to how it’s all possible.

I was able to achieve roughly similar figures to what Samsung state in the technical specification. That included using the Bluetooth radio, browsing the web using the EDGE data capabilities, making and receiving phone calls, sending and receiving texts, playing with the camera and taking shots. So despite fiddling around with all that, I was still able to get a decent battery life out of it. When I wasn’t doing those things, the battery would give me the 2.5 hours talk time or about 6/7 days worth of idle time.

Evaluation

The Samsung SGH-X820 has hit a new milestone in terms of engineering. A first for a phone of this size packed with so much functionality. It’s mind-boggling just how thin this phone is, it’s more a reminder of a calculator than anything else. The fact that this phone has such a good feature set, which is usually the compromise for phones that have been put on an Atkins diet, I wouldn’t mind owning this phone. It’s perfectly useable on a daily basis.

2007-03-15 Onwah Tsang

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