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Samsung Blackjack 2 Expert Review

Discussion in 'Microsoft Windows Mobile Phones' started by luv2fly007, Mar 6, 2008.

  1. luv2fly007

    luv2fly007 Junior Member
    Junior Member

    Jul 24, 2006
    Likes Received:
    Charleston SC
    My Phone:
    HTC Tilt
    Wireless Provider(s):
    Verizon Wireless / AT&T

    At a Glance:

    • Styling: 4
    • Ease of Use: 4
    • Display: 4
    • Voice Quality: 4
    • Battery Life: 5
    • Quality / Durability: 5

    What’s Good: Compact, stylish Windows Mobile 6 smartphone; HSDPA (3G) high speed data; Improved battery
    life; GPS; Center mounted jog wheel

    What’s Not Good: QWERTY keys are a little small and a little slippery; No touchscreen; Display is smallish
    for a smartphone

    Bottom Line: Blackjack II is a solid improvement over its predecessor. There’s nothing revolutionary here,
    but faster hardware, improved battery life, and speedy 3G data make this a worthy update to the popular original.


    Make/Model: Samsung Blackjack II (SGH-i617)
    Network: GSM Quad-Band
    Data: HSDPA (3G)
    Carrier: AT&T (Locked)
    Size: 114 x 61 x 13 mm
    Weight: 116 g
    Form Factor: Candybar
    Display: 2.4” Color LCD, 320 x 240 (QVGA) Resolution, 65,000 Colors
    Memory: 155 MB built-in, microSD card slot
    Notable Features: Windows Mobile 6 Standard OS; QWERTY thumbpad; Front-mounted jog dial navigation; Integrated GPS;
    2-megapixel camera; Supports AT&T Video Share videocalling

    Samsung’s BlackJack was a big hit amongst smartphone users in 2007 thanks to its compact candybar form factor, full
    QWERTY keyboard, and enterprise-friendly Windows Mobile operating system. But BlackJack suffered from a few flaws,
    inadequate battery life being the biggest offender; most BlackJack users I knew wound up buying an extended battery
    which all but negated the phone’s sleek body by adding a big ol’ bulge to its backside.

    Lucky for business users across America, Samsung seems to have learned from its mistakes. BlackJack II isn’t
    groundbreaking, but it’s a solid successor that corrects the original’s mistakes and adds a few goodies in the
    process. Most notably, BJ2’s battery life is much improved, and faster hardware and speedy 3G data access make for
    noticeably improved productivity.

    The new BlackJack is just a little bit thicker and heavier than the original, but it’s still one of the most
    compact smartphones around - it’s noticeably smaller than the similarly designed Motorola Q9. There’s no
    touchscreen to be found here, and though I wouldn’t mind a slightly larger display and QWERTY layout, BlackJack
    users ready for an upgrade will generally find a lot to like in this sequel.


    Design / Features
    BlackJack II is sleek in a business-class sort of way. I don’t know that I could ever call a smart phone “sexy,”
    but the burgundy-finish review sample Samsung sent me certainly is handsome, anyway. The handset fits easily in
    one of my hands, and its center-mounted nav dial makes for easy left or right-handed operation Some folks have
    bemoaned Samsung’s decision to replace BJ1’s side-mounted scroll wheel with this new front panel dial, but I like
    it. The wheel’s similar to those found on iPods, if not quite as smooth and responsive - you can use it to scroll
    through selections or as a four-way directional pad with a center select key. A standard layout of softkeys flank
    the wheel on either side, and I found these plenty spacious - though some might scoff at the slick plastic finish
    that adorns the buttons.

    The QWERTY keys on the lower half of the phone’s front panel are on the smaller side, but the oval shaped keys are
    set on a slight diagonal and well spaced, which makes them pretty easy to use, even with my big thumbs. Samsung
    also grouped the dialing buttons together (they were oddly spread out on the original) and added some shortcut keys
    to the bottom row of the keypad, which are handy. My burgundy BlackJack II also featured a textured back panel
    that made for easier gripping; the black version of the handset has a smooth plastic back instead. Speaking of the
    back panel, here you’ll find the sensor for BJ2’s two megapixel camera which can also capture video.

    A Windows Mobile device, BlackJack 2 can handle your contacts and email and messaging needs, including support for
    Exchange Server and POP3 and IMAP email accounts. Windows Mobile 6 supports full HTML email, and the device ships
    with support for AIM, Yahoo, and Windows Live instant messaging. BlackJack II also comes with Microsoft Direct
    Push, which supports real-time “push” email delivery as well as automatic Outlook syncing. The handset can be
    synched to a PC via USB cable using ActiveSync.

    On the AT&T side, there’s support for the new Video Share service so you can make video calls if you and your
    recipient are both on compatible devices, within 3G network coverage, and willing to pay $5/month for 25 minutes of
    video calling bliss. There’s also support for AT&T Music and Video, which stream a/v content to your handset for
    additional costs. I tried out the XM Radio and ESPN video highlights services and was impressed with how quickly
    the applications loaded and the content started playing. For my money streaming music is still much more useful on
    a mobile phone than streaming video, but the quality of both services was on par with anything I’ve tried on a
    Sprint or Verizon Wireless device.

    Usability & Performance
    As a phone, BlackJack II was a solid performer. Signal strength was good, voice quality was generally quite good,
    and callers said I came through clearly on the other end. I found the integrated speakerphone to be so-so;
    sometimes calls sounded fine (if a bit hissy) while other times voices were garbled and folks on the other end said
    they couldn’t hear me so well. The phone paired up just fine with both mono and stereo Bluetooth headsets, and
    also worked well with the included wired earpiece. Samsung uses a proprietary headphone jack, so if you want to
    use a third-party headset you’ll have to get an adapter.

    Windows Mobile is not my favorite mobile platform, but BlackJack II ran it pretty well all the same. WinMob 6
    ships with Microsoft Office Mobile Suite, which supports viewing and limited editing of Word, Excel, and PowerPoint
    files. There’s also a PDF viewer onboard. Combined with HTML Email support, these features give WM 6 a nice shot
    in the arm, productivity-wise.

    On the other hand, Internet Explorer mobile is still a pretty terrible Web browser. That’s not BlackJack II’s
    fault, though, and a quick download and install of Opera Mini or Mobile will get the most out of the phone’s access
    to AT&T’s HSDPA data network. Armed with Opera Mini, my BlackJack served up a very fast, solid Web browsing
    experience wherever I had a 3G signal. There’s no WiFi connectivity on this handset, which isn’t a problem so long
    as you stay within 3G coverage areas; the larger battery meant that I didn’t have to worry about draining the
    phone’s battery unless I was doing some serious, steady Web surfing.

    BlackJack II packs more memory and a faster processor than its predecessor, and the new hardware translated to
    noticeably better performance. The integrated GPS worked well with Google Maps for Mobile, and the two-megapixel
    camera is an upgrade over the original’s 1.3 MP shooter spec-wise, though image quality is still middle of the road
    for a cameraphone. There’s no flash for the camera, but there is a self-portrait mirror.

    BlackJack II is a solid smartphone. I can’t get super-excited about because I’m not its target audience - I don’t
    like Windows Mobile and I do like touchscreens and snazzy features - but that doesn’t mean I can’t appreciate it.
    Samsung took a good thing in the original BlackJack, fixed its fatal flaw by upping the battery life, and boosted
    performance and features in the meantime.

    If you’re wedded to the idea of being able to navigate your smartphone via a thumbwheel on the side panel, you
    won’t like this new BlackJack. Like I said, I really like the front-mounted navigation dial but I know some users
    really miss the original BJ’s side-mounted setup. Aside from that, there’s nothing here that would put off a
    BlackJack fan looking to upgrade. Windows Mobile 6 is an upgrade over 5, BJ II’s processor, screen size memory,
    and megapixel count are all upgrades over I, and now there’s GPS thrown in, too.

    Samsung did a nice job updating a popular handset without straying too far from what made the original a success.
    Is this enough to make smartphone buyers pony up for BlackJack II? Yeah, I think so. BlackJack II is a mid-range
    smartphone - there’s no giant touchscreen or WiFi, but it’s got 3G and it’s small, sleek, and priced to move.
    Sounds like another winner to me.


    Read more reviews by Noah
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