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'THE SELECTION OF HANDSETS TODAY is mainly influence by individual's preferences on the main features of the mobile models and the package deals offered by various store dealers and network providers. It is a "pick and match" option where the chosen phone is paired with various network providers - offering a bundle of monthly usage of minutes and texts for cheap deals.
When I visited Phones4U store in 2006, I was contemplating back then to have another Nokia handset but when I saw the latest model of Samsung P300 on display, and without any hesitation, I signed a 12-month's term with O2. The contract covered unlimited calls and text for 25 pounds per month.
When this contract expired last year, I decided to have a new contract with Phones4U for a longer term - 18 months. Again, I chose the handset that stood out from the rest of the units on display, another Samsung model, SGH-U600. Unfortunately, I could not have O2 network for this handset, but Orange instead for 25 pounds and 225 minutes and 100 texts.
Please note that Phones4U requires every contract to have insurance policy at 9.99 pounds per month by direct debit, otherwise I will not be able to get the deal for the unit. I had it a go for a month in desperation to get the contract approved, but after that I phoned the insurance provider (Policy Administration Services Ltd) to cancel it but persuaded me to have the 2.99 pounds a month for the sim card insurance. Well, finally I decided to totally cancel the insurance policy after two months. I am not against insurance for mobiles to covering any unauthorised calls as a result of theft or loss and accidental damage. However, with my lifestyle at the moment, there is no chance that the handset will be stolen or broken. Surely, having that insurance is not worth paying.
After 15 months, I think it is worth sharing the value of having Samsung SGH-U600 which truly delivers wherever I go, whatever things that I really want to do and to be connected 24/7 locally and abroad. If you are looking for an old model that you can effortlessly slide inside your pocket, no doubt, this is the one not to be ignored. SGH-P600 is not a perfect unit however, it perfectly served as a mobile companion and its shortcomings/downsides are overshadowed by its strong features in terms of compatibility, size, appearance, capacity, music/radio, connectivity, power, screen and even camera/video functions. Well, I listed down the reasons why this unit is a valuable gadget and difficult to live without it.
-APPEARANCE and STYLE
= It has an ultra-slim built in a sapphire blue shell and easy to slide inside the pocket. As a normal snapper, it is comparable to LG Shine model or the latest Samsung G800 but SGH-P600 is surprisingly a light weight gadget with a selection of colours to choice from. With 10.9mm thickness, it is considered as the thinnest mobile available in the market. Weighing 81grams, it is second lightest unit next to Samsung E250 and quite comparable to Sony Ericsson models in terms of weight particularly W350i. It is lighter than the Samsungs U700 and G600. The lightness is a little bit a downside which could be easily slipped from the hands or low pockets. Well, having extra space for other stuffs like keys or coin purse/wallet in the pocket, then it could be prevented from falling/slipping while sitting down.
CAPACITY AND BATTERY
Aside from its lightness, it contains a higher internal memory capacity than Samsungs G600 and U700 and of course comparable to Blackberry's Pearl models. It is better than Nokia's models 2630 and 2760 (11MB) or the slide 6500 which is only 20MB. It is advisable to acquire additional external memory card (microSD up to 2GB). The 60MB internal memory is enough to hold a reasonable number of photos and songs, including video clips. If I want to take more images and videos, then I normally use my digital camera for higher resolution.The life span of the battery is reasonable. Technically, it is designed to have a talking time of 4 hours, but in my experience I don't reach that length of time of chatting, otherwise I will exceed my allowable monthly calls of 225 minutes (around 2.5 hours) if I will test this capability. For simple calculation, I charge the battery every week to maintain my monthly talking/texting time and taking photos/videos occasionally. Charging the unit/battery is using a USB connection which is also included in the purchase. This USB cable connection is compatible with my old Samsung P300 and even E250, except for the latest model, Samsung Tocco, SGH-F480V (which I purchased recently for my third contract under Vodafone) which has a bigger slot connection. I recommend to turn-off the phone to maximise the efficiency of the battery while charging. An image of a battery (fully charged) will appear on the screen when the unit is completely charged.
The phone can also accommodate up to 1000 contacts in the phonebook and 200 saved text messages. Incoming and outgoing messages are automatically saved in the My Messages, while drafts can be restored/saved or deleted easily. Contact details can be saved on the phone or duplicated in the sim card.
CAMERA AND IMAGING
Having a 3.2 mega-pixel camera, it is not bad to taking snaps of some places that I have visited during my travels. This resolution is substantially acceptable particularly for ordinary 4X6 prints or for web-page posting. Unfortunately, I did not bother to transfer it to the computer/laptop or not even printed and uploaded it on-line, thus I cannot describe the quality of the images captured by the unit. Synchronisation with PC is done by installing the CD installer allowing the handset shares its data (images, contacts, documents) to the PC. It is clear and manageable to send images or file to other mobiles as an attachment or by directly transferred by Bluetooth. I also tried to take video, unfortunately, the quality is not very good using a full screen option. In terms of the quality of sound, it is audible and clear, comparable to my old Samsung P300. Having this image resolution, it is not inferior against my other old unit Xda O2 (3megapixels) or my latest one, Samsung Tocco (5megapixels). The shots taken during night time or in low light places are not impressive even changing the scene settings.
Technically, the phone is capable of various shot modes, scene settings and effects which are common to other models/brands. For example for shot modes, it can do panoramic orientation and multiple shots which also found in Samsung U700 model. Other special effects such like black and white, sepia or changing the colours of the photos are not available in the unit, but these functions are added features of Samsung G600 model.
It is also important note that the flash at the back of the unit serves as backlight while navigating dark places.
MUSIC AND SOUND
I seldom use the music player of the phone. I do love listening music using my laptop's Microsoft media player and CD/DVD driver or my iPod nano. To test the external memory card, I requested my friend to upload some songs and it seems that the quality of sound is perfectly alright with the earphones. As an alternative to my iPod, I use the FM Radio mode of the phone when doing my regular jogging/walking. The FM radio function is being activated when the earphones are attached to the phone, otherwise it will not work. The play options and audio (volume) level can be moderated using the buttons found at the central circular pad of the phone or at the left lower side of the phone. The selection option button is also used for self-tuning of FM stations available in the area. If the radio is on and there is an incoming call, the radio is interrupted and the call can be answered. The phone has a voice recorder which is an excellent option for short audio recording.
FEATURES AND FUNCTIONALITY
This model is an Orange signature series phone the phone keys' layout is not much any difference from old Samsung models. The front view shows the main key functions buttons as follows: power key, earpiece, display (screen), volume keys, mouthpiece, multi-function jack, alphanumeric keys, and dial/delete/menu exit keys.
It has a circular knob located at the centre which serves as the web access/confirm key and the navigation keys (up,down, left and right). In addition, there are two soft keys (left and right) for short functions of menus and contacts, including back, cancel and select keys. These soft keys are similar to a touch screen feature and quite very sensitive for quick navigation without sliding the phone. Sliding or pushing the upper part of the phone will expose the alphanumeric keys and other special function keys for dialling. At the rear part of the phone shows the mirror, camera lens and flash, camera key function and the memory card slot.
It has a "homescreen" function for quick access such as for sending messages, taking photos and exploring Orange World's browser. The homescreen also provides several icons for a list of options for direct access to the various features of the phone, or showing any missed calls or received messages and reminder for appointments.
Exploring the menus of the phones, there are (12) major icons presented on the screen, namely: (1) Applications: functions for bluetooth, image editor, java world (games), and smart search for messages and calls. (2) Music player: functions for playing songs and FM radio (3) Settings: functions for time and date set-up; phone setting and displays; screen and light settings, and network services such as call diverting and barring; and security (PIN, sim lock, password, mobile tracker) (4) Organizer: calendar, voice recorder, clock, calculator, converter, and timer (5) Address book: contact list, speed dialling, management for copying contacts and memory status for both sim card and the phone itself (6) Messaging: Incoming and created messages, templates, multimedia, memory status for SMS (7) Call history: statistics for missed, dialled and received calls, and sent and received messages from contacts (8) Camera: taking photos, camcorder/video recording (9) Media album: folders for the Images/photos, videos music and sounds taken and downloaded; including the data/files found in the external memory card (10) Orange World: Access to the Orange website's browser and other URLS. (11) Alarms: Setting up for specific alarm for reminding personal appointments (up to 5 different reminders) (12) Sound Settings: ring tones selection for incoming calls, keypad and message tones, and silent mode
EXTRA SERVICES FROM PHONES4U AND ORANGE
There are advantages for having a contract than "pay as you go" arrangement particularly for maintaining regular communication with family and friends both locally and abroad without interruption by not topping-up monthly. Unknowingly, there were hidden charges applied by Orange which were not explained to me by Phones4U when I got the deal. I only discovered it when I finally signed-up for on-line access of my detailed billing statement. There is an additional charge for having detailed billing statements by post. It is recommended to review the charges every month, particularly when the charges exceeded the contract amount (25 pounds a month). It is also a good practice to call or contact the Orange customer service by dialling 150 in the handset. The contract also allows me to use my handset overseas/abroad. Activation for this feature is manageable by calling the Orange a day prior to departure. International calls from UK or vice versa are excluded from the contract. It means I have to pay extra based on the prevailing tariffs. For example, if I will call from Italy, calls cost 38p per minute and receiving a call will cost 19p per minute; while sending text messages cost 30p and free to receive messages. For sending photo messages less than 50KB will cost 60p and 75p for larger messages.
THERE ARE MINOR INCONVENIENCES with my Orange contract which are tolerable and manageable. Orange network connection is not strong especially in enclosed spaces (like basement or underground floors) compared to O2 and Vodafone networks. Since it is an Orange signature series phone, it is locked - I can not use a sim card from Tmobile, O2 or Vodafone. Unlocking the unit will cost me 20 pounds (if Orange will do it) or 10 pounds by Chinese phone retailers.
By the way, Phones4U gave me a free unit of Motorola F3 (with Tmobile sim card and free 20 pounds top-up) as part of the contract. Having this contract allows me to upgrade the unit when I reached my 12 months payment or buy-out my remaining payments and have another contract for new unit. Since I am not fully satisfied with Orange network, I decided to have the buy-out arrangement.
Last month, I got my new unit, Samsung Tocco (SGH-F480V) for 250 minutes/100 messages a month which is really a good deal for valued existing customer like me and avail the best deals which are not applicable for 'pay as you go' condition. Existing deals for Samsung U600 requires a minimum of 10 pounds top-up monthly and get the unit for only 99.99 pounds or on-line purchase from Amazon costs 120 pounds.
INDEED, SAMSUNG SGH-U600 TRULY DELIVERS and choosing this handset made my daily activities manageable and hassle-free.