Review Samsung SGH i780 Windows Mobile Phone

WINDOWS MOBILE, REVIEWS
samsung i780Another device turned up in the post for us to take a look at and this one is the Samsung SGH i780 Windows Mobile Professional device. This phone impressed us from the moment we opened the box and switched it on. The form factor is fantastic combined with a great front facing Qwerty keyboard.

Whats in the box

Samsung SGH-i780
Getting started disc
Quick reference guide
USB sync and charge cable
Mains charger
Samsung Headphones
2 batteries
Desktop battery charger
The Samsung SGH i780 is a Windows Mobile Professional touch screen device with a front facing Qwerty keyboard and a square screen. The major difference with this and other square screen devices is the screen resolution. All previous square screen devices we have seen followed the 240 x 240 resolution but this phone has a 320 x 320 display which makes for a much better viewing experience.

samsung i780 samsung i780

Hardware

Looking at the exterior of the phone starting at the bottom its totally clear except a small hole for the microphone. The top only has the device on / off button and access to the stylus, oh no, another one of those awful telescopic ones.

samsung i780 samsung i780

The right hand side has a button for quick access to the media player, micro SD card slot and access to the charging port and headphone socket. The charging port is not mini USB, come on Samsung nearly every other manufacturer has adopted the mini USB standard for charging phones now, another bad point is the headphone socket is the same socket as the charging socket so again don’t consider using your good quality headphones your stuck with the included Samsung pair unless you buy an adaptor.

The left hand side of the phone has the earpiece volume up and down rocker switch and the right side has access to the Micro SD Card slot, charging / headphones port and a quick launch button which can be assigned to any application or action you want.

samsung i780 samsung i780

The front of the phone has a 0.3 Megapixel video camera for UMTS standard video calls, a full Qwerty keyboard, two function keys, phone send and end keys, windows start key and an OK key.

The D-Pad is interesting, no it’s extremely interesting as this is no normal D-Pad, its a highly sensitive mouse trackpad complete with onscreen pointer. The thought of using this on a Windows Mobile phone was quite off putting but I think this makes the device extremely easy to use. Navigating menus and clicking programs and links is so much easier and I still haven’t had to get the stylus out, a major thumbs up from me.

samsung i780 samsung i780

If you find you can’t get used to this mouse revelation fear not as Samsung has covered all the bases and a simple setting change can turn the trackpad back to the normal D-Pad, very sleek!

The back of the phone is made of a dull black non slip plastic and houses the 2.0 megapixel camera lense, its a typical camera on these type of phones and produces reasonable pictures but nothing outstanding see below for a couple of example shots.

samsung i780 samsung i780

Software

Booting the phone for the first time was surprisingly quick, no bloatware, no patches just a very quick start up, the usual screen calibration and then it detected my O2 Sim card and automatically configured the data connections, very impressive.

Samsung have customised the home screen with shortcuts to contacts, email, SMS and speed dials although it looks quite basic it is very functional. The phone runs a pretty standard version of Windows Mobile Professional version 6.0 which has been superceded by version 6.1, at the time of this review the 6.1 update is not available however Samsung do state that an upgrade will be available to 6.1 by August this year.

samsung i780 samsung i780

Additional software installed in the Rom consists of Opera web browser version 8.65, RSS Reader, Podcast app to download podcasts over the air, PV Player for streaming videos, Picsel file viewer, hard reset application and a graphical interface to the task manager.

samsung i780 samsung i780

samsung i780 samsung i780

The Samsung SGH i780 comes with an integrated A-GPS system and to test it out we downloaded the free Google Maps for Windows Mobile, the software automatically detected the inbuilt GPS and turned it on and within a few minutes had pin pointed my location and worked really well with the maps application, it also has a fast satellite fix option which is turned off by default but when you turn it on it connects to the cell network and downloads a small file which cuts the time it takes to get a fix considerably but be careful if you do not have an unlimited data plan.

samsung i780 samsung i780

Usability

This device does not have any software shell user interface like the HTC Touch UI so you are dealing with Windows Mobile in its raw form, having said that if you are familiar with the operating system then you will have no problems getting around. Its very snappy and moving through menus is as instant as it gets. Phone call quality was excellent at both ends of the conversation and connectivity with a bluetooth headset was solid and reliable.

samsung i780 samsung i780

Synching the phone with an exchange server has been the big selling point with Windows Mobile for a long time and once it was set up it worked perfectly, synching all my contacts, agenda and tasks over the air with instant push email. Pocket IE was not good to use but as mentioned this phone also comes pre-installed with Opera version 8.65 which is much better but still no where near as good as the iPhones Safari browser or the upcoming Opera 9.5 as seen on the HTC Diamond

samsung i780 sshot010

Battery life seems very good, after a full charge the battery was still at 50% after 24 hours of use with quite a bit of WiFi, push email and GPS usage, another added bonus is a spare battery in the box complete with a desktop charger so the spare can be charged without it having to be in the phone, a nice extra touch, take note HTC.

samsung i780 samsung i780

Conclusion

This is without doubt the best Windows Mobile device I have ever used, and believe me when I say I have used a lot of them, from the innovative mouse D-Pad, brilliant Qwerty front facing keyboard, zippy menus and software extras its hard to find fault with it, but I will, the charging should be by mini USB, the headphone socket should be a standard 3.5mm, there should be Windows Mobile 6.1 update now and the stylus should not be telescopic. Apart from that I cannot think of anymore negatives and that is high praise indeed.

Consider this for a moment, Palm are about to announce a new Windows Mobile Professional Phone that they are hoping will get them back in the game, it will be a similar form factor to the Samsung i780 with a front facing Qwerty keyboard, it will have WiFI, GPS and a 320 x 320 screen, why wait for the Palm, its already available with the Samsung i780 and I cannot see how Palm can make any major improvements except for Windows Mobile 6.1 which the i780 should also have by August.

Samsung SGH i780 specification

Microsoft Windows Mobile 6 Professional
624 MHz Marvell CPU
256 MB ROM / 128MB RAM
2.55 ” 320×320 TFT Touchscreen
GSM900, GSM1800, GSM1900, UMTS2100
CSD, GPRS, EDGE, UMTS, HSDPA
Built-in QWERTY-type keyboard, 37 keys
microSD card slot
Bluetooth 2.0
WiFi: 802.11b/g
Built in NMEA 0183 GPS
2.0mp camera
61.3 x 115.9 x 12.9 millimetres
120 Grams
Thanks to Superetrader for supplying the review device

Disclaimer, the Samsung SGH i780 featured in this review was returned to the vendor after completion of the review.

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PUBLISHED ON JUN. 22, 2008 BY ADMIN
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44 COMMENTS

Gareth Myles
6/22/08
Great review of an interesting phone. One question, is the charge/sync a proprietary connector? Its annoying that its on the side meaning a cradle is kinda out of the question.

admin
6/22/08
Yeah its Samsung’s standard connection and its one of the things I put against the phone. Its like a mini USB connection but much flatter and also doubles as the headphone jack. You can get an adaptor to use your standard headphones but come on, lets make things standard please Mini USB and a 3.5mm headphone socket

Will
6/23/08
Have you encountered any applications which are incompatible with the 320×320 screen? A lot of reviews mention possible compatibility issues with the screen resolution but don’t give many examples.

Also does Opera Mini 4.1 work on the default Java VM? Until Opera Mobile 9.5 is released for the general public, Opera Mini (on a decent Java VM) is IMO the best browser on Windows Mobile.

Also is the thumbboard any good? How does it compare with other front-facing QWERTY devices like the Moto Q9h, Blackjack, Treo 750, etc?

admin
6/23/08
I haven’t come across any applications that did not work well on the i780 however I also did not use that many third party applications except twitter apps and gmail java app which all worked fine, is their any in particular you would like me to take a look at. I will test Opera Mini today and let you know how that runs and also I have a beta copy of Opera 9.5 again I will test that out today too. I am also testing Vito Audio notes today to see how that performs and the video calling funtionality of the phone, I will update the review.

Will
6/23/08
Thanks for the info. The thing that worries me most about the i780 is the square res and the unusual touchpad (which some bloggers/reviewers seem to hate).

Did you encounter any issues with the included applications like Word, Excel and Outlook Mobile? It’ll be interesting to see if other popular apps like Skype, Windows Live and TomTom will work properly on the square screen.

I wonder whether Opera Mobile 9.5 can co-exist with Opera Mobile 8.65…

admin
6/23/08
No problems with any of the included applications, I will test out skype and opera mobile

admin
6/23/08
I have tested Skype and it looks fine on the 320 x 320 screen and works great too, I have installed Opera Mobile 9.5 build 1123 and it does work but I keep getting errors that the device is not supported, once they clear its working fine, it also installed on top of the pre-installed 8.65

Will
6/24/08
That is great to hear! After listening to the MobilityToday and MsMobiles podcast, I’ve decided to order the i780. I was going to wait for the Omnia but I don’t think I can live without a hardware keyboard.

Thanks for your help!

admin
6/24/08
Your welcome, I am sure you will enjoy using the i780 let me know how you get on when you get it

heavyduty
6/27/08
Great review! I hope I’m not late, as I’ve been looking all over for a review like this where I’m able to ask questions.

I have a few of them, which I hope you’ll be able to answer:

– The D-pad: you honestly have no problem with it? Would you prefer a normal D-pad if you could chose? Also, when it’s in normal D-pad mode (i.e. non-mouse mode), does it register the presses on each side by touch or by press?

– Keyboard: is it correct that the space button also functions as a switch to vibrating mode (judging from the pictures)? Is it possible to remap the Mail and GPS buttons on the keyboard to other apps?

– Is it absolutely certain it will get the 6.1 update?

I’ve been looking at this phone for weeks, but being weary of that D-pad. I’m waiting for the Palm 850 but it’ll be a while and it’ll probably be Vodafone only in the beginning, but what I do like with 850 is the two dedicated app keys below the screen (hence my question on the button remapping). I currently have a Touch Enhanced but I’m badly missing a physical keyboard, it’s the main reason for me wanting to change (and its atrocious battery life).

But then you say it’s the WM device you’ve ever used, which is bold statement and is certainly convincing.

admin
6/27/08
Heavyduty
Ok, luckily the courier hasn’t turned up yet so I still have the device, I will do a video over the weekend showing you the answers to the questions you have asked and post it up, I love the mouse, its weird at first but after a while its second nature.

Keep checking back and I will get the video up for you

heavyduty
6/28/08
I’ll be much obliged for that, and I’m definitely looking forward to it. I’ll check back regularly in the mean time. Thank you!

admin
6/28/08
I should have it posted around tea time on the main page

heavyduty
6/28/08
That sure was quick! Thank you for answering all my questions in that video, very kind of you. That button remapping is crucial in my book; it’s one reason less to go for the 850.

Another quick question though (no video required): when adding e.g. a new calendar entry (or contact), is it possible in any way to Tab your way around each field using the keyboard only, given that the keyboard doesn’t have any [dedicated] Tab key (perhaps it’s there with a combination of the function key)?
If Tab isn’t present, do you find it cumbersome to move between each field using the mouse? I ask because I use the calendar a lot and even though you’ve mentioned several times that you love that mouse pad it just seems long winded using the cursor moving between 4-5 fields every time you add an entry, but maybe I’m wrong.

Also, what other WM phones have you owned/used? Given that the i780 is the best WM phone you’ve tried, which obviously is the best comment any device can receive, it would be interesting to know as a point of reference. (Btw, I heard in podcast that you’re waiting for the 3G iPhone, but what phone do use right now?).

Sorry for that, I said one question but then I just get caught up…

Again, thank you.

heavyduty
6/28/08
Forgot to ask about the battery life, now you’ve had it for a few days. Does it *easily* go through a day just using the phone over BT headset (no GPS)?

admin
6/29/08
I couldn’t find any way to tab through calender entries so it looks like the only way is the mouse or d-pad.

I am using an HTC Diamond at the moment.

Battery life was fine for a long days use but obviously it is dependant on how many phone calls you get in a day, for me it was fine, you also get a spare battery in the box and a desktop charger.

I have used the following Windows Mobile Phones:-

SPV C500
HP 6315
HP 6515
Imate Jasjar
Imate K-Jam
O2 XDA
SPV C600
HTC TyTN
Treo 750V
HTC 620 (MDA Mail/ Dash)
Samsung I600
Treo 750V
HTC Touch Dual
Eten M810
Samsung SGH i780
HTC Diamond

heavyduty
6/29/08
OK, I just placed an order with Supertrader for an i780, it should be here by Tue. To be honest I’m not entirely convinced I’ll like the mouse pad but until I try it out myself I won’t know for sure.

Either way, thank you for responding each and everyone of my questions.

Blogger
7/8/08
I like QWERTY phones!

Portent
7/11/08
I’ve just got this phone to replace a lost O2 XDA Mini S (a rebranded XDA Widard – the one with the slidey out keyboard). Overall I really love this phone but coming from the Wizard there are some things I miss: the tab key and the dedicated D pad. There are also a few minor customisations that HTC had that I wish were on the i780 (e.g. when you open the messenger to send a text, the HTC had the far more usable ’send’ option as the left softkey, wheras the i780 has ‘delete’ so you have to click a couple of menus to send a text. The battery is ok – not stunning but it lasts me a day with heavy usage and I’ve always got the spare already charged.

But overall I simply love the phone. It’s responsive, soooo slim in comparison to the Wizard, and has everything I need from a phone. I don’t regret it for a moment. Yes it may take a little getting used to the lack of tab, D pad, etc. But I’m in love with the touchpad and I really didn’t expect to use it much.

Andrew
7/15/08
I have had this phone for over a month and am very happy with it.
Only problem is I can’t seem to get the data/charge cable to charge either the phone or the battery charger.
Also the battery cover is very difficult to remove.

Samsung Omnia launch in Italy | Mobile Tech Addicts
7/15/08
[…] a 3.2-inch WideQVGA display (240 x 400 pixels) and an optical mouse much like the one found in the Samsung i780. Samsung i900 Omnia is also boasting a 5 megapixel auto focus camera with face and smile detection […]

dzikki
7/25/08
Dear all,

i just have this phone for 2 weeks, quite satisfied also. I just want ask anyone of you, is there any recommen application for yahoo messenger (free of course ha ha ha)….

please help folks
tku

Rommel Pangilinan
8/2/08
I have had this phone for 3 days and am very happy with it.
Only problem I had is the GPS based on the specs this unit comes with GPS reciever/built-in. It seems my unit not yet. I could not find that such features. I have a software called ESRI Arcpad, I installed successfully but , when i tried to detect the built in GPS there is no such thing. Anyone please tell me how can I activate this GPS thing in my mobile. YOur help is appreciated. Email me in [email protected]

thank you very much

rommel pangilinan

dimitry
8/3/08
A great phone..I purchased it recently and it’s good

Terence Walter Elliott
8/15/08
Just had the phone for 2 days. The battery cover is nearly impossible to remove. Thin knife blade is essentional. The mains charger will not charge a battery in the phone. The mains charger WILL charge a battery in the desk charger. The phone will only charge via the usb lead.

In other respects, I amstill evaluating the phone against my Treo 750.

Charles
8/17/08
i have had myne for 6 days and i must say i am impressed,by the way andrew there is a tick box in your setting thats states do not allow phone charge during sinc simply untick the box and away you go.does anyone know if they will and when will they realese wm6.1 for it?

Samsung i900 Omnia review | Mobile Tech Addicts
8/21/08
[…] mains charger, headset, data link cable, funky stylus and documentation. As we already know from previous Samsung reviews, they insist on using a proprietary connection for charging and headsets headphones. This one is […]

Mochan
9/9/08
This phone has a newer, somewhat fatter flat connector than the other Samsung models though. I *hate* Samsung and it’s crumby proprietary connectors! There are tons of them and they just force me to bring another charger in the bag.

My cons with the phone are:
– proprietary charger
– no 3.5mm jack
– 320×320 doesn’t work with all apps (not that big a deal only problem I had so far is SPB Mobile Shell and Worms)
– Touchscreen is not as sensitive as other WiMo phones especially the HTC ones
– poor bluetooth support

The last one is the real headache for me. I hate how I can’t get my bluetooth headset to connect properly to the phone, and I can never use it to activate Voice Command. This is something I do all the time on other HTC PPCs, and I’ve tried a lot of them and they all work properly. This is the 2nd Samsung phone I had that had issues with Bluetooth (the other being the Blackjack). Samsung’s bluetooth is either too finnicky or just plain bad.

@Will, the thumbboard is average. It isn’t great like the Moto Q, Treo 750 and surprisingly it’s not even as good as the Blackjack’s. I do’t know why but they made the keyboard less “friendly” — it feels “stiffer” compared to the Blackjack’s. Why Samsung devolved the QWERTY I do not know. But it’s still usable.

You can also install Opera 9.5 and 8.65 side by side, no problem.

Skype works great.

@heavyduty: The touch mouse is not a big deal. I hate it and I just turn it to a d-pad, which takes some getting used to but is not a problem in my book. I actually like the touch version to the normal d-pad better now. You don’t actually activate it by pressing the sides, you have to swipe your finger over it in the direction you want to go.

Holding the space bar does indeed turn the phone into vibrate mode. You can remap the mail, gps and side camera buttons.

The Wimo6.1 official upgrade has stalled but I am already using WiMo6.1 on my i780, thanks to the hackers from XDA Developers.

You can tab around a calendary entry using the d-pad just like you would on any WiMo phone.

I also agree this is the best WiMo phone I’ve used, and I’ve also used a lot. The only real downer is the Bluetooth.

BTW the GPS works fine, but it is a hassle to set up. I used GPSGate and have MapKing as the map software.

toyon
10/19/08
hey…..
i need to know that where can i find windows mobile 6.1 for my samsumg i780.????

Mar
11/26/08
Please help me on using the a-gps.

Samsung i780 Windows Mobile 6.1 update | Mobile Tech Addicts
11/26/08
[…] facing QWERTY Windows Mobile Professional device will be getting an update to Windows Mobile 6.1. When we reviewed this device it was excellent and the only thing stopping me from buying it was that there was no update to 6.1. […]

BoyBawang
12/23/08
Hi! great review and i’m getting one soon!
Is the mouse cursor also visible in Java apps? Opera Mini for instance.
thanks

Doug
1/5/09
You do not need a tab key for the verizon i910 Samsung keyboard. Simply swipe your finger over the optical mouse and it will tab you to the next field.

Amit
1/11/09
Can I use i780 emails (corporate emails) from outlook email software thru WIFI connectivity, as I do not want to apply GPRS?

will the phone pop me, everytime I receive a new email on my server?

Thanks for clarifying this situation to me

olamide
1/13/09
my samsung i780 indicate phone is off on the home page i found it difficult to switch it on

Natalie
2/1/09
Mmmm how do you get skype on the mobile?
ive tired but i really dont know how.

Marina
2/21/09
How to OPEN THE BACK COVER or BATTERY COVER of your i790

I had the same problem when I first got this phone but there’s a trick – it is VERY EASY once you know how – the answer is to press down and slide the bottom of the casing, not the top – watch either of these demonstrations:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aauY-9-Gprs

http://www.tracyandmatt.co.uk/blogs/index.php/2007/09/05/removing_the_tytn_battery_cover

1. Hold the phone in your left hand, screen facing down, with your left thumb positioned on the back cover, just underneatht the camera lense
2. Place the back of your right hand (ball of you right hand) on the bottom half of the back case
3. Press down firmly the ball of you right hand and at the same time lightly press and slide down with your left thumb – i.e. a simultaneous pressing down and slide action

This makes it really easy to open it – it just slides open.

Hope this helps.

Boetie Raats
4/8/09
Charles can you indicate more exactly where to find the following setting on the i780.
“there is a tick box in your setting thats states do not allow phone charge during sinc simply untick the box”

icha
5/16/09
I just bought SGH i-780 yesterday..and I found some difficuties:

1. it is hard to remove the back cover..I almost ruined it
2. the qwerty keyboard is too small
3. I cant record if I receive the call
4. There is no radio canal
5. The jack is not universal

anyway..I tried to return it this morning and was thinking to exchange with Nokia E-71..but the shop owner from whom I bought the mobile, trying to rip me off . He said that there is no refund and return policy. Instead, I have to sell the i-780 first to him. However the price he offered was much lower than I bought yesterday…You know..it was less than 12 hours …and he would take 50 bucks from the original price I bought. I was upset with his shop policy…anyway I decided to keep my i-780 and trying to like it……I was wondering..if anyone of you knows about the quality comparation between Samsung i-780 and Nokia e 71, please let me know which one is better…samsung i-780 or Nokia E-71? Thank you.

Hulkforall
5/27/09
icha,
I dont know if my comment would satisfy you, but lets find it out.
First, both of this phone have cost & benefit. As long as I know here is the result:
– E71 using symbian which is mean there are alot of third apps on the market that
you can get, while i780 using wimo 6.1 which in my opinion is better than symbian
but the third apps still not as much as symbian.
– The keyboard qwerty on i780 is bigger than E71. It means, you’ll enjoy typing on
i780 rather than E71.
– i780 have 2 different ways to navigate the apps (touchscreen with stylus & mouse)
while E71 only have 1 (4 way pad).
– i780 screen is bigger than E71.
– i780 didnt have a radio while E71 have it.
– i780 camera only 2 mp & without flash while E71 have 3,2 mp & flash.
– i780 is cheaper than E71.
– i780 have 2 batteries on the package while E71 only have 1.
Hope it will help you & sorry for my English 🙂

Ntshidise
7/7/09
Hi !

Hope u can help, i hav a Samsung i780 (uses Windows Mobile 6). Im tryna get it to connect to my yahoo mail so dat I receive mail notification as it comes in bt there is a CONNECTION error. (de yahoo account is set up bt it doesnt fetch emails from my yahoo account as they come in)

2) How do I go about downloading programs on de fone?

Hope u can help wit CLEAR instructions.

Keith
8/31/09
anyone know what is the biggest microSD card that this device can support? i am planning to get one

jess
8/31/09
I would like to know, how do i pair my bluetooth headset to my mobile?
as i have tried to detect the device, but somehow, it doesn’t appears at all…

ihitmani
11/14/09
How to install windows mobile 6.5 or highter?? there’s nothing info about it.If you found some info please mail me to [email protected]