The Samsung SCH-i730 for Verizon Wireless manages a pretty impressive feat: It shrinks a Windows Mobile-based smart phone into a form factor that actually fits comfortably in your pants pocket and
includes broadband wireless, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, a built-in keyboard, and a speedy processor. Despite some irritating quirks in its wireless support, the Samsung i730 stays in the running for the "Treo killer" title. The Samsung SCH-i730 is much smaller than typical Windows Mobile-based handhelds; only the diminutive I-mate Jam
is smaller, but the Jam lacks the i730's keyboard and Wi-Fi support. In fact, other than being slightly thicker, the i730 is virtually identical in size to Palm's popular Treo 650
. At 2.28 by 0.97 by 4.49 inches and 6.4 ounces, the i730 is close in size to other Windows Mobile-based smart phones, but it has the touch screen and the full Windows Mobile application compatibility that many smart phones lack.
The well-designed i730 is destined to give the Treo 650 a run for its money.
With the slider closed, the i730 is relatively small.
The i730's screen resolution is lower than the Treo 650's (240x320 pixels vs. 320x320 for the Treo), but its 2.8-inch rectangular screen is better for Web browsing and video playback than the Treo's square display, particularly when using the Windows Mobile 2003 SE screen-rotation feature, which lets you easily switch the screen between Landscape and Portrait modes. Though the screen is on the smallish side, it's extremely bright and sharp.
With a cool black and silver design, the i730 sports a large display.
It's hard to avoid Treo comparisons when discussing the i730. Though it hides its full QWERTY keyboard behind the screen using an innovative slider design, this thumb keyboard is the first we've used that matches the Treo's comfort level and potential typing speed. The backlit keys are raised bubbles, rather than the small, flat keys used by the Siemens SX66, which has a similar slider design. The keyboard is very comfortable, but because of its sliding design, the Samsung i730 hasn't been as well optimized for one-handed use as the Treo. Also, gamers take note: The i730 can recognize only one button press at a time, so you won't be able to move and fire simultaneously in games such as Galaga.
The sliding form factor hides a nifty full QWERTY keyboard.
Thanks to the combination of its operating system and specs, the Samsung SCH-i730 is a processing powerhouse. It sports a 520MHz Intel PXA272 processor, 64MB of internal RAM, 128MB of flash memory (more than 80MB of which is available for program storage), and an SDIO/MMC expansion slot. It runs Windows Mobile 2003 Second Edition, which offers a full set of PIM functions as well as Pocket versions of Microsoft Word and Microsoft Excel. Music and movie fans will appreciate the inclusion of Windows Media Player 10.0, which supports PlaysForSure WMA files from online music stores such as Napster and Musicmatch and easy syncing of television programs recorded by Windows Media Center PCs. The Samsung i730 also includes a few bonus applications, including Sprite Backup, an excellent program launcher, and Verizon's Wireless Sync push e-mail client. While Microsoft's Windows Mobile push functionality won't be built into devices until we see units featuring Windows Mobile 5.0, Verizon's push e-mail client does the trick. Though some preproduction i730s were shown with a built-in 1.3-megapixel camera, this feature is missing from the initial i730 released by Verizon. It's possible that the camera could appear in a second model or in a version from another carrier, but no camera version has been announced. Nevertheless, we had hoped that a high-end smart phone such as the Samsung i730 would have at least a VGA-quality camera.