The Samsung C6625, for those of you unfamiliar with the phone, is Samsung’s attempt to topple BlackBerry from the peak of the QWERTY-keyboard smart phone mountain. Does it succeed or is it merely a case of me too for the Windows powered Samsung? Read on for our thoughts as we put the C6625 under the microscope.
Liberating the phone from its box and holding it in hand, the first thought that springs to mind is BlackBerry. It wasn’t just me either; comments of “ooh that looks like a BlackBerry” were common place while the phone was doing the rounds. Unfortunately, Samsung have fallen short of emulating the build quality of the tried and tested BlackBerry’s. It doesn’t feel cheap but there is a slight air of a lack of imagination. The C6625 lacks both the smooth lines and slim dimensions of the Curve 8900 and 8520 but also the premium metallic design of the high end BlackBerry Bold. It’s also fairly cumbersome at an imposing 113.3 x 63 mm but lacks any sort of weight at just 109 g so ends up feeling a bit flimsy.
If the design of the C6625 left us cold, the QWERTY keyboard was definitely a welcome feature. The extra dimensions afford each key extra space so rarely will you find yourself hitting the wrong key when firing off an email or text. This is complimented further by the fact that each key is ever so slightly rounded so finding the centre of each key is simple. This opens up the possibility for some seriously speedy text input. The soft keys that sit above the QWERTY keyboard are equally user friendly with a nice big four way navigation key and menu button in the middle as well as the usual assortment of menu, call, back and home buttons. There’s definitely to be said for larger phones when it comes to usability.
On the subject of usability, we move on to the operating system. Yes, the C6625 does indeed run Windows Mobile 6.1 which, as you probably already know, is starting to look quite old and decrepit, especially in the run up to the new 6.5 launch, but before you run for the hills, Samsung have done some tinkering of their own to try and aid you in your daily tasks. The phone is given an overlay on the home screen that looks similar to the TouchWiz user interface found on several of Samsung’s other smart phones and feature phones, though this time without any touch functionality. On the left of the display we get a short cut bar that you can scroll through and quickly and easily access various areas of the phone without having to wade through Windows Mobile. The first of these is a generic home screen that displays calls, messages, time and date. From here we also get sub home screens for contacts, the photo gallery and music among other things. Everything is clearly laid out and fairly easy to access (once you’ve remembered where everything is) but by taking away the touchscreen, Samsung have also sort of removed the point of such a home screen. Navigating the UI is so much slower that if using a touchscreen and you have to ask whether there’s any point having all this information on your home screen.
If the comparisons with BlackBerry handsets haven’t given it away, the Samsung C6625 is geared towards those who email a lot and need to stay in touch 24/7 and it’s in this department that the phone does excel. The phone supports full push email letting you nominate multiple email accounts to send and receive emails from. Emails pop up on the phone as if you were sitting at your desk enabling you to work from wherever you are (hopefully a beach on some tropical paradise). The phone also supports Microsoft Outlook tools such as setting up meetings in the calendar and carrying over your contacts from your PC. It’s a shame really that BlackBerry handle emails so well as this really is as good as it gets for the C6625.
With Windows Mobile you obviously get the ability to open and edit Word, Excel and PowerPoint documents on the phone. Combined with the excellent keyboard, the C6625 is as good as any when it comes to editing documents and Windows favourites such as Internet Explorer and Windows Media player are welcome additions. That being said, we’d trade them all in the blink of an eye for a less clunky, more user friendly version of the operating system.
Enough griping about the OS, what else has the C6625 got up its sleeve? The phone features HSDPA connectivity so web access is nice and zippy. Hindering this slightly is the rather meager 2.6 inch display which you really need to squint at when web browsing (especially with the lack of a good zoom feature in the browser) and even more damning is the lack of Wi-Fi, one of the first requirements for a smart phone. The C6625 does also feature built in GPS with A-GPS support and comes with Google Maps pre-installed. As this is Windows Mobile, you also have to option to install your own SatNav software though it doesn’t come cheap. And what of the multimedia side? Is the phone all work and no play? Well, the 2.0 Megapixel camera is somewhat of a let down, especially with more and more BlackBerry’s launching with 3.2 Megapixels and above. The music player on board does the job well enough and can be launched from the home screen but the small display hampers video playback and the memory can only be expanded to 8GB. Okay so 8GB sounds a lot but in 2009 most smart phones have more on board memory than that so without the option to stick in at least a 16GB card, the C6625 is always going to struggle as a multimedia phone.
So what are our final thoughts on the C66250? Should you cast your BlackBerry aside and welcome Windows Mobile with open arms? In a word, no. The C6625 is geared as a business users phone but the fact that both Samsung’s UI and Windows Mobile are so unintuitive will mean users will fail to get the most out of it. Everything the C6625 can do, the BlackBerry Bold can do better and with such a comprehensive range of phones on offer, there’s a BlackBerry to suit everyone’s needs. A nice attempt from Samsung but left wanting in some vital areas. If you’re after a QWERTY emailer, go for the Bold or 8900 Curve, they’re better designed, feature a much more user friendly interface and won’t leave you feeling disappointed. And if you desperately need a Windows Mobile device, hold out for Windows Mobile 6.5 and pick up the Samsung Omnia Pro, it’ll be well worth the wait.