A Samsung smartphone, with a Symbian operating system, and Nokia user interface… huh? It’s not every day you see a Samsung Symbian handset – and it’s even rarer to see one with Nokia’s Series 60 platform.
Samsung have merged all three and come up with the i450: an interesting smartphone with dedicated multimedia functionality, Bang & Olufson audio hardware, and high speed 3G connectivity.
They have also utilised the rare dual-slide design in order to somewhat separate the music playback functionality of the i450 with everything else. Further proof of this is the touch sensitive wheel, which acts as navigation device solely for the music player.
Read on to see how Samsung went about creating a multimedia device complete with Symbian operating system and Nokia’s S60 user interface.
Symbian OS 9.2 and Nokia’s S60 3.1 user interface is at the core of the i450. The combination is widely used in the Nokia world and is one that I really enjoy using – although it is a little bland, the combination is (usually) fast and easy to use. Simple tasks don’t take endless button presses and navigation through menus.
Support for the 3G 2100MHz network is included, as well as HSDPA (up to 3.6Mbit/s) support. The built-in S60 browser is HTML compatible, supports Flash objects, and has multiple window support – perfect for Internet browsing.
The i450 has a standard 2mpx digital camera with video recording and LED flash. It’s a fixed focus camera so macro photography is out the window, and at 2mpx it definitely doesn’t take the best photos in the smartphone world. More on that can be found in the camera performance section.
Only 30MB of internal memory is built-in to the i450, but microSD memory cards are supported. Currently the i450 sold in Australia comes with a 2GB microSD memory card, but this is most probably a limited offer and other regional variants may only come with a 1GB card.
The i450 has Bang & Olufsen’s ICEpower technology built-in, offering superior audio quality. The handset has a 3.5mm headset jack for plugging in your favourite headphones, as well as the proprietary Samsung interface connector.
The i450 measures 101 x 52 x 17.9mm and weighs in at 104.5grams. Although it’s not the slimmest handset in the world I felt the handset was comfortable in hand, solid, and did not feel cheap in the slightest.
The sliding mechanism locks into place quite comfortably, but some allowances need to be paid as the device not only slides upwards but also slides downwards. As such, pushing the bottom too hard upwards may cause the top to slide out and the Music Player to launch. This only happened to me a few times and is easy to avoid.
The handset is available in three colour variants: Onyx Black, Dark Blue, and Cherry Red.
Overall the i450 is nothing exciting to look at, but this is not uncommon for Samsung handsets. The design is quite bland and there is nothing that sets it aside from other handsets on the market, but this may very well be something that appeals to a certain market.
Personally I didn’t mind the design of the i450 – sometimes simple is better.
User interface & display
The Samsung i450 runs the Symbian OS version 9.2, with Nokia’s Series 60 version 3.1 user interface. As such, those coming from a Nokia background will have no problem adapting to the i450. The UI itself is stable, easy to use, and fast.
A 2.4” TFT LCD display is located above the i450’s front keypad. The display is capable of displaying up to 262,144 colours within its 240 x 320 pixel resolution. The display offers good image quality, contrast, and brightness, but you may have trouble viewing it in the bright sun.
The front keypad has the usual array of keys for a S60 device – two soft keys, a 5-way navigational keypad, a ‘c’/backspace key, dedicated menu key, pick-up key, and hang-up key. The buttons sit flush with the face of the i450 and are definitely on the larger side - making a change from the usual.
The keypad keys are equally as large, and revealed when the handset is slid open (face upwards). The bright white backlight is perfect for using in the dark but may drain battery life, as there is no ambient light sensor.
The i450 I received for review was from Three, so it had a custom version of the standard firmware designed for the Three network. Barely any major changes have been made however, with the most noticeable being the right soft key configured for the Planet 3 online services.
Active standby is enabled by default, and will place six quick launch icons on the standby screen and a calendar application. The six icons can be configured to almost any application or bookmark installed on the i450 (including custom ones). The calendar section will display any upcoming appointments.
Things such as missed calls, new messages, and alarms will be displayed underneath the calendar section.
At the bottom of the standby screen is a search box for Google. Typing anything in here and pushing the centre navigational button will fire up the web browser and search for the term.
The main menu is a grid (or list) of 11 icons: messaging, contacts, log, tools, media, organiser, settings, profiles, connectivity, web, and installations. Most functions are extremely easy to track down underneath those main headings, and with the tabbed design of the UI switching between menus is simple.
UI themes are supported and three are pre-installed: Rhythimical (default), Midi, and Nightwatch. Themes for the menu can be downloaded from the Internet, as well as a range of different UI themes. Most that work on Nokia S60 devices will work with the i450.
I really enjoyed the i450’s user interface and operating system, and it’s nice to see Nokia’s S60 platform being picked up by other manufacturers more and more. The list of non-Nokia S60 handsets is still quite small, but after playing around with the i450 it’s clear why they went down the avenue of a well known, easy to use, and responsive UI.
Making and receiving calls
Calls can be made using the included stereo headset, a separately purchased Bluetooth headset, the built-in loudspeaker, or the regular earpiece. Video and voice calls are supported.
You cannot use a 3.5mm headphone set as the i450’s jack is not equipped to work with microphones! If you attempt to take calls with this type of headphone your caller will not be able to hear a thing. Only the proprietary Samsung headphone set can be used for hands free calling.
The volume of the earpiece was fine for my usage at just below ¾ maximum, and the same can be said for the loudspeaker. Big tick here.
In addition to the outward facing 2mpx digital camera, the i450 has an inward facing VGA camera for video calling. The camera sits at the top right hand side of the display and is the default camera for video calls – however you can switch to the external camera if you wish.
Video calls can be made by entering a number on the standby screen and hitting the right soft key, or you can browse to a contact and select options menu. Pressing the green pick-up button will initiate a regular voice call.
During a video call you can disable video, audio, or audio and video. Video quality can be set to “normal,” “clearer detail” or “smoother video and you can switch the incoming video to the small box if you’d rather see yourself in the big box!
SMS, MMS, and e-mail messaging is supported by the i450. Messaging is handled by the default S60 application that we’ve come to know and love from numerous Nokia handsets… even if it is extremely simple.
The main messaging window displays all messaging folders as well as quick access to the new message composer and message reports. Upon selecting new message you will be asked if the new message should be: a text message, multimedia message, audio message, or e-mail. The audio message option is basically an MMS message with an audio attachment, which the i450 guides you through creating.
SMTP, POP3, and IMAP4 e-mail boxes are supported, and the application also supports attachments. With the HSDPA protocol, downloading messages is super fast (and super expensive if you don’t have the right data plan!). Exchange is not supported out of the box but could be added by way of an add-on application.
T9 predictive text in local languages is pre-installed, and the i450’s large-key keypad is great for messaging. Some may not be used to the flat surface of the keypad but this won’t take long to get used to. The ‘c’ (backspace) key may also become troublesome as it sits flush with the red hang-up key and could be hit accidentally.
The Samsung SGH-i450 is tri-band GSM handset, supporting GSM 900, 1800, and 1900MHz networks. GPRS and EDGE data protocols are supported for accessing the web.
Only one 3G band is supported: 2100MHz. This band is used in Australia for the Optus, Vodafone, and Three networks, but not Telstra’s Next G network. The i450 supports the HSDPA data protocol but only up to 3.6Mbit/s.
A Bluetooth 2.0 compatible radio is built-in to the Samsung i450 and includes a range of profiles compatible with other mobile phones, PC’s, headsets, hands-free car kits, audio devices, and other peripherals, including A2DP stereo audio.
Connecting to another device is simple and achieved via the Bluetooth section of the Communications setting menu. Here you can turn Bluetooth on/off, edit the visibility of the handset, change the handset name, turn remote SIM mode on/off, and edit already paired devices.
During testing I could achieve around a steady 80KB/s file transfer with the i450 and my Macbook, with bursts up to 120KB/s.
USB version 2.0 is supported by the i450, with a data-cable included in the sales package. The USB functionality is accessed through the proprietary port on the right hand side of the handset.
The i450 supports charging over USB and also the Mass Storage Device protocol. Using this USB protocol you can connect the i450 to a compatible PC or Mac and without having to install any drivers or other software, can transfer files to and from the handset. Unfortunately this only works if you have a memory card inserted - you cannot access the internal memory via the USB Mass Storage Device profile.
All is not lost however, as the i450 sales package contains a CD with Samsung’s PC Studio software, which allows you to synchronize and transfer data to and from the internal memory of the handset.
Other USB modes supported are PictBridge for direct printing via USB to a compatible printer, and Media Player, for connecting with Windows Media Player.
Unfortunately WiFi isn’t supported by the i450, which is a real shame. Had this feature been thrown in to the mix, the handset would have really performed well in this section, and appealed to a much wider market.
Java performance is good and users wishing to play 3D games shouldn’t be fairly happy with the i450. No games or other Java applications come pre-installed though.
The i450 is designed for multimedia playback. As I mentioned earlier in the Physical Aspects section, sliding the face of the i450 downwards reveals the stereo speakers and red touch sensitive wheel, which is used to navigate around the music player application.
The music player is automatically launched when the handset is slid downwards. It has a funky Flash-like interface complete with transition and fade in/out effects. Two colour schemes (blue and red) are available to spice it up. The application is horizontally aligned.
The red touch wheel is a great idea, but a tad fiddly to use. It is made from a rubber-like material that is soft to touch, but also very “sticky”. This means that you can’t slide your finger along fluidly as your skin will catch on the material. Occasionally this will result in a hard time trying to get to a particular menu as the application will continue scrolling instead of stopping where you want it to. Pushing the red scroll pad in acts as an ‘enter’, ‘accept’, or ‘play/pause’ function, although it’s hard to find exactly where you’re supposed to push.
At the main menu of the Music Player there are different top-level sections, which are: all tracks, artists, albums, track lists, genres, and composers. Music files stored on the i450 will be arranged into groups based on their ID3 tags (if available). The track lists section contains dynamic lists that are created based on most player, recent tracks, and recent additions. You can also create your own by manually adding tracks in the library.
When a track is selected it will automatically start playing, with information like track name, artist, and time displayed on the right of the screen. If cover art is available, it will also be displayed. The left hand side of screen will display a continuation of the physical scroll pad, and will change colour based on the playback time of the current track.
Random and loop options are supported, and there are 15 equaliser presets available for your selection. They are: default (flat), jazz, classic, bass, bass & treble, dance, pop, club, party, hall, soft, soft rock, 3D dynamic, 3D surround, and 3D wide. The equaliser options can only be enabled if a headset is plugged in (via the 3.5mm port of the proprietary Samsung port).
The outstanding quality of sound from the i450’s loudspeakers was really noticeable when compared to other loudspeakers. This is all thanks to the Bang & Olufson audio technology called ICEpower. The sound is clear, natural, and with thumping bass that does not distort the quality of sound. When connected to headphones the i450 rivals other portable music players.
Your favourite pair of Bluetooth headphones can be connected to the i450, as it supports many audio profiles including A2DP.
The Music Player is designed to be used when the i450 is in its second slider ‘mode’, it can be used while the keypad is open or even when the handset is closed – the application just transforms into a standard S60 application with none of the special effects.
File formats supported by the music player include MP3, WMA, and AAC variants. Polyphonic and Real Tones will also display in the music library.
Java applications are supported by the i450, but like many Samsung handsets installing Java applications that have been transferred to the internal/external memory and not downloaded from the web is somewhat tricky.
The easiest way I found to install Java applications was to transfer the .jar (and .jad if you wish) files to the memory, and then open the File Manager program (inside the Organiser main menu). From here, browse to the files and select them – most of the time this will start the installation process.
The i450 achieved the following results using the JBenchmark testing suite:
||HQ: 187; LQ: 359
The Samsung i450 comes with a mobile version of RealPlayer for video and streaming audio playback needs. Flash Player is also pre-installed but no games or applications are, however a range can be downloaded from the Internet.
A stereo FM radio is built in to the i450, but as always you will need to have the headset plugged in as it acts as the radio antenna. The 3.5mm headphones included in the sales package can also be used as the antenna, as can your own pair of 3.5mm headphones. Automatic scanning and storage of up to 50 stations is supported.
Samsung have included the Adobe PDF reader and Quickoffice suite for viewing office documents. Word, Excel, and PowerPoint documents can be opened by the Quickoffice application, and PDFs with the Adobe PDF reader. Office 2007 applications cannot be opened unless you purchase the upgraded version of Quickoffice (version 5.0).
The usual S60 calendar is included on the i450 and should suffice to most users’ needs. It supports meeting, memo, anniversary, and to-do entries, complete with alarms and support for synchronization with Outlook and a range of other applications. Upcoming calendar entries are displayed on the idle screen (if active standby is enabled).
The VoiceSignal application is an easy to use voice recognizer that can aid in calling (names or numbers), sending SMS (to a name or number), looking up names in the address book, and opening applications. In my tests the application was spot on every time, but I still don’t see the functionality being used by the mass just yet.
Additional applications include a clock with alarm and world time features, a basic calculator, converter application, note taker, file manager, and memory application.
Powered by a 1140mAh lithium-ion battery, Samsung estimate the i450 will provide up to 5.1 hours talk time or up to 515 hours standby time. No breakdowns for 2G/3G battery life was provided.
During my tests I could push the handset to around four days of usage, including heavy HSDPA usage, messaging, and some calls. For an HSDPA enabled handset, this is about the standard.
Included in the sales package is a regular wall charger as well as the USB data-cable, which can be used to charge the handset via the proprietary interface port.
I found the build quality of the i450 above average, except for the few issues I had with the touch sensitive music pad, which is explained in the Problems & Issues section of this review.
Some users may find the numerical keypads fiddly to use, as all keys are all flush with each other and do not have particularly defined edges – same goes with the keypad below the display.