Samsung i560 review
There are pretty few smartphones among the handsets made by Samsung, and even fewer of them are based on Symbian S60 OS/UI.
All rights to this User Interface software belong to Nokia, so it’s really hard for Samsung (and others) to come up with something their main rival hadn’t thought of yet.
Frankly speaking, until recently the Korean handset maker didn’t have any Symbian smartphones worth a look and the ones it had, didn’t have much appeal.
Among these two, i550 is in a better position to succeed in the market as a standalone model, due to its unusual navigation/control device (a trackball) and an overall better look. And especially now that Samsung i550w got it’s own Wi-Fi.
The prospects of the SGH-i550 ain’t that bright- it just doesn’t have that one thing that should sell it. And built-in GPS definitely is not it.
GPS in Samsung i560 – a fashionable gimmick. Not a must have feature. Yet
To understand the reasons, let’s make a few steps back and try to see, who would find a GPS built into a device like Samsung i560 useful, and why.
Who uses GPS navigators in their daily lives? Well, drivers, for sure. Would such a navigation device work for them?
Certainly not: the display is too small, and the set doesn’t include the needed car accessories. What’s more, car owners that don’t have a built-in navigation system, tend to prefer standalone GPS equipment anyway.
Thus, we come to the conclusion that GPS in Samsung i560 might only be useful to a pedestrian who needs one; how many such people are out there is a big question. For now, we can safely say that a GPS on a mobile phone is nothing more but a fashionable gimmick.
It’s fun and cool for the owner to carry around and show it off, but otherwise useless – much like those early low resolution cameras, when they started putting them on mobile phones for the first time.
GPS may become a must have feature in future phones, when location based services are mature enough. But not just now and not soon enough for Samsung SGH-i560.
But let’s put these theoretical questions aside, and return to our review of the Samsung i560. And for those who prefer watching to reading, let’s start with:
Samsung i560 video review
Samsung SGH-i560. Overall design, camera & ergonomics
The phone is built in a typical Samsung style: it’s a quite big slider in standard black and silver, with a metal frame around the front. Which is surprising, as Samsung rarely uses metal in it’s phones, preferring plastic with a metallic finish. The rest of the casing is made from plastic that is pleasant to touch; the quality of the assemblage is excellent like always.
As with the most products of the Korean company, the front side of Samsung SGH-560 is easy to scratch. There are no special stops for opening and closing the phone, so you are forced to touch the screen all the time, which makes it dirty faster.
The lens of the built-in camera is located at the back of the Samsung i560; it stays visible when the slider is closed, and sticks out slightly. The lens flash and the speaker is positioned at the sides of the lens cover; where there’s also a label showing off 3.0 megapixel resolution of the camera. The latter is pretty odd, since the camera is a pretty vanilla for this kind of phone, and the space would have been much better used to show off GPS capability of the Samsung i560.
Besides the usual function buttons, there is a special fast launch button on the front panel of the slider. By default, it’s programmed to launch Media Player, RealPlayer and Radio applications. Again, this looks rather odd, because it would have been more logical for it to give the user fast access to the GPS navigator.
All the buttons are convenient and big enough – no problems here. The keypad is rather stylish – it’s a RAZR-like single sheet with horizontal dividers. The only problem is that it will be hard to feel the right keys without looking. Unusually positioned at the top of the dial keys is the on/off button; it also lets the user to change profiles fast.
Unlike most Samsung phones, the i560 has two communication ports: one of them is the universal interface port to which you can connect the data cable, the charger, and a headset, and the other one is the standard 3.5 mm audio output jack for third party produced headphones.
The memory card slot is located on the right side, and covered with a very solid panel.
The design, materials, and the controls leave the most favorable impressions; the only drawback in the design of the Samsung SGH-560i is the fact that it looks almost the same as all other Samsung models and doesn’t stand out in Samsung phone line-up at all.
The display of this phone is quite impressive 2.4 inches, with bright and realistic colors. It’s still barely readable under direct sunlight.
Samsug i560. Overall functionality and music phone features
Sasmung I560 runs the latest version of Symbian/S60 OS, and right now that’s Symbian OS 9 S60 Third Edition, Feature Pack 1.
Overall User Interface is largely the same as in Nokia 6120 classic, Nokia N95, and other phones. The only change, it seems, is the look of menu icons and GPS software –unlike Nokia, Samsung seems to be using Navigon software in i560.
Regrettably, there was no navigational program preinstalled in the device we were given to test; according to the representatives of the company, the negotiations with the software developer aren’t complete yet. We will update this part of the review as soon as we get the new device for testing with official Nav software installed.
Now, let’s get to the music functions in Samsung i560, which deserve additional attention in this handset. While SGH-i560 isn’t being marketed as a good device for music playback, it seems like it actually is such.
There is a fairly functional music player installed, a separate jack for connecting your headphones directly to the phone, without the need to use any kind of adapters, and a high quality signal output ensured by a separate sound chip.
Unfortunately we didn’t have the chance to directly compare Samsung i560 with the Samsung SGH-i450 dedicated music phone, which uses a chip from Bang&Olufsen to process sound. However, the memory tells me, that even though i450 may sound a bit better, the sound quality difference is so small as not to be noticed by most.
Anyway, the sounds produced by the Samsung i560 are comparable with such musical phones as Sony Ericsson Walkman W910i and Nokia 5310 XpressMusic.
The whole set-up works like this:
- After you connect the headset which ships with Samsung SGH-560 through the universal port, you can listen to music or talk on the phone. The quality of the sound is mediocre; the headset is nothing special.
- However, if you connect any headphones to the 3.5 mm jack, the sound changes drastically for the better. The signal is strong enough for headphones with resistance up to 64 Ohm, and the volume level is quite good. If there’s an incoming call while you are listening to music in this mode, you will be able to hear the caller with the headphones and talk into the speaker of the phone; a bit unusual but quite convenient.
SGH-i560 GPS phone also has no problem reading memory cards of up to 8 GB (despite the announced 2 GB limit), so you won’t run out of storage for your music, either.
Samsung i560 supports full HTML browsing over high speed HSDPA 3.6 Mbps networks. It comes with a pretty functional, full HTML browser preinstalled, supporting both landscape and portrait browsing modes. Of course, when Opera 9.5 for Symbian phones finaly comes out, you will probably want to switch to it ASAP.
The phone uses a 1100 mAh capacity Li-Ion battery, which, when fully charged is usually enough for two-three days of fairly intensive use in GSM network. However, if you often transfer data through HSDPA, or use the GPS navigator, it’s quite possible to “kill” the battery within 3-5 hours.
Samsung SGH-i560. Conclusions
Despite all the good quality and cool features in Sasmung i560, we can safely say that a a dim fate awaits it as a standalone handset in retail: the sales will be low, and many customers will never even learn of its existence. There are several reasons for this.
- uncertain market positioning of i560 GPS phone. It’s unclear what is the target market of this product, and who it was made for. If it’s the for early adopters/geeks who like getting the latest thing – it’s doubtful they will choose Samsung SGH-i560 among the wide variety of smartphones; if it’s for the typical consumer, it’s unlikely they would prefer a smartphone to the simple and easy to use native Samsung OS.
- lack of focus on some single key area. While the phone has every function you can think of, and should theoretically appeal to almost anyone, it doesn’t excel in any one area, and looses to more specialized models of the competitors.
With the tentative price of 350 euro, Samsung i560 can hardly hope for any commercial success of this model; unless it can convince mobile operators to give an additional push for this handset.