Back in September at the fall CTIA show, Sprint and Samsung announced the upgrade to the Samsung SCH-i830, bringing some welcome additions to the smart phone. The updated Samsung IP-830w (a.k.a. Sprint International Smart Device IP-830w by Samsung) finally catches up to the competition and comes preloaded with the latest Windows Mobile 5 operating system. But its biggest benefit is the dual-mode CDMA/GSM functionality, which lets globe-trotters use the phone in the United States and overseas. That said, if work or pleasure doesn’t require you to travel much, we think there are a number of better-designed and better-performing Windows Mobile smart phones out there, including the Sprint PPC-6700 and the Palm Treo 700wx. The Sprint IP-830w is available now for a pricey $599.99 with service.
The Samsung IP-830w features the same slider design as its predecessor, and though it’s a tad smaller (4.5 by 2.2 by 0.9 inches compared to 5.2 by 2.8 by 0.6 inches), it remains a clunky phone. This isn’t uncommon among Pocket PC phones; the Palm Treo 700wx and the Cingular 8125 share similar dimensions, but we found the IP-830w to be extrathick and heavy. In addition, there’s an external antenna that adds an extra inch of unwanted bulk.
On front of the device, there is a 2.8-inch touch screen that displays 262,000 hues at a 240×320 pixel resolution. Though it shows off more colors than the Samsung SCH-i830, we didn’t notice a difference; in fact, we actually found the display’s colors to be a bit washed out. We do love the convenience of the touch-screen functionality, however, as it gives you an easy and alternative method for inputting text and accessing the device’s menus and programs. You also can navigate the smart phone with the set of controls beneath the screen, which include two soft keys, Talk and End keys, a Back button, shortcuts to your Calendar and Program Launcher, and a four-way navigation toggle with center Select key. The layout and buttons were on the smaller and cramped side, so users with larger digits might want to give it a test-drive before purchasing the phone.
We found the Samsung IP-830w’s keyboard to be a bit cramped.
Hiding beneath the IP-830w’s screen is a full QWERTY keyboard. To get to the keyboard, simply slide the front cover upward; the sliding mechanism is smooth, and the screen locks into place with a satisfying click. The buttons are tactile and well backlit, but we have several complaints about it. First, the layout is cramped, making it easy to press the wrong key. What’s more, since you can use the keyboard only in portrait mode and with the screen slid up, it makes the device top heavy and harder to hold. As such, we prefer the Treo 700wx’s form factor.
Save the device’s internal memory for apps, and keep your multimedia files on an SD card.
There’s an SDIO/MMC expansion slot on the right side, while a headset jack, a Voice Command button, a volume rocker, and a Hold/Backlight switch are on the left spine. Sprint packages the Samsung IP-830w with a Sprint Worldwide SIM card, an AC charger with adapters for Europe and the U.K. (very nice), a USB cable, a stereo headset, an extended battery, a software CD, and reference material.
One of our biggest complaints with the Samsung SCH-i830 concerns the outdated operating system, so we’re finally glad to see that the Samsung IP-830w comes preloaded with Windows Mobile 5.2 Pocket PC Phone Edition with AKU (Adaption Kit Update) 2.6. Now, you can enjoy the benefits of the revamped Mobile Office Suite, which include a PowerPoint viewer and support for charts, tables, and embedded images in Word Mobile and Excel Mobile. This is supplemented by the Picsel Browser app that lets you view the aforementioned file types, plus PDFs, JPEG and PNG images, HTML, and more. For your e-mail needs, Outlook Mobile is onboard as is support for GoodLink so that you can get your messages delivered to your device in real time. In addition, you can configure the IP-830w to access your POP3 and IMAP e-mail accounts.
The biggest attraction of the Samsung IP-830w is the dual-mode CDMA/GSM functionality, which allows you to use the smart phone domestically and internationally while keeping the same number. In the States, you make calls via Sprint’s CDMA network, while the included SIM card is your ticket to roam on international GSM networks (GSM/GPRS 900/1800). It’s a great option for business users who travel overseas frequently for work.
The Samsung IP-830w ships with a SIM card so that you can use it to make calls while you’re overseas.
Other wireless connections include Bluetooth 1.1 and EV-DO support. The supported Bluetooth profiles include HSP, HFP, OPP, FTP, and HID for connecting to headsets, car kits and keyboards, and transfer of contacts and appointments between Bluetooth-enabled devices. In addition, you can use the included USB cable to hook up the IP-830w to your laptop and use it as a wireless modem. This will, however, require that you purchase a Sprint Power Vision Modem Plan, which starts at $39.99 per month for 40MB or $49.99 per month for unlimited.
Though there’s no integrated Wi-Fi on the Samsung IP-830w, the omission is easier to take (though we’d still like the option) since you can connect to the Web via Sprint’s 3G EV-DO network. Data speeds can reach up to 2Mbps, but on average, they’ll fall in the 400Kbps to 700Kbps range. As part of the Sprint Power Vision pack ($15 to $25 per month), you also can get Sprint’s On Demand content, which pulls all the current and local headlines from the Web and delivers them to your device.
Other highlights of the Samsung IP-830w include 128MB of memory, a speakerphone, a voice recorder, voice commands, Windows Media Player 10 Mobile, a ring-tone manager, a remote-control app, and three preloaded games (Bubble Breaker, Checkers, and Solitaire).
We tested the Samsung IP-830w in San Francisco using Sprint’s service, and call quality was good, much improved over the Samsung SCH-i830. Conversations were loud and clear, and our callers reported much of the same, although they said they could tell we were using a cell phone. Activating the speakerphone diminished the audio quality slightly, and we really had to jack up the volume to hear our callers, and even then, it was on the weak side.
The IP-830w is rated for 3.4 hours of talk time and up to 5.4 days of standby time. In our tests, the standard battery lasted only a paltry 2.5 hours. Even worse, we swapped in the extended battery, which adds even more bulk and weight, and managed to squeak out only another half hour of talk time. According to FCC radiation tests, the Samsung IP-830w has a digital SAR rating of 1.17 watts per kilogram.