Blast from the Past – Samsung i780 – the BlackBerry Classic copied – my review

The Year was 2009, 5 years ago, and I bought a Samsung i780. Amazing piece of kit for its time. And this was the review from 5 years ago that I wrote –

samsung i780

Date of Review – 13th April 2008

Price – £290.00 + VAT

Pros – Everything about it. Light, fast, good software, reliable, Excellent value for money. Great design. Looks expensive.

Cons – If you have an old piece of software, the 320 x 320 resolution may cause you a problem.

There have been a multitude of new devices recently released. I reviewed last month the i-mate 8502 and 9502 and really liked both of these devices. I had intended to change my MDA Touch 256mb to one of the new i-mates and nearly ended up with the 9502. However, Clove posted the Samsung i780 at the same time as the 9502 and even then the 9502 was the winner until the last few minutes. That was until I realised there was something special about the Samsung i780, but I wasn’t sure what but I knew I was going to buy this over the i-mate. But at the time I wasn’t sure why!

So was this a mad decision or is it the best decision I have made to date in my pda/smartphone history. More later. First the key specifications:-

Microsoft Windows Mobile 6.0 with Direct Push email, Memory – Rom 256MB, RAM 128MB
Display – 2.6″ Touch Screen with 320×320 pixels
Network- Tri-Band GSM 900/1800/1900MHz, GPRS, EDGE, 3G/UMTS 2.1GHz HSDPA
Input – QWERTY Keypad, 4 Way Black Navigation Pad
GPS- A-GPS Receiver , Connectivity – Bluetooth 2.0 WiFi 802.11b/g
MiniUSB 2.0 , Camera – 2 megapixel digital camera on the back and VGA camera for video calling on the front with 2 x digital zoom
Expansion – MicroSDHC
Dimensions – 61.3 x 115.9 x 12.9 mm
Weight – 120g

Opening the Samsung i780 box reveals the handset, 2 batteries, a separate charging module for the battery, AC charger, usb lead, a CD with the manual, software which included a podcast retriever for the PC to sync across to the podcast application on the i780 and another application called MITS Wizard. This is a photo/video editing software, but also allows photo contacts/contacts, sms/mms inbox/sent items, ringtones, voice notes and other data to be backup from the i780 to your PC. This is a superb piece of software. It backs up all pictures from the i780 My Pictures directory from the main memory and memory card. It does the same for videos too. It allows you to create wallpapers for the i780 and installs and transfers them automatically.

I am sure a lot of you are thinking that the optical mouse feature and the screen resolution are a concern. I did considerably, and this nearly stopped me even considering the device. In short the mouse IMO is a bonus, a brilliant feature and the screen resolution wonderful on the eyes. I use the 4 way nav mode mainly. The one drawback is the lack of games for this screen resolution. This will change as the number of new devices being released will have this resolution causing more developers to update their titles. The way to view the i780 is do you want a device which is offering new technology within a refined package. It is definitely not doom and gloom at all. For example I have installed the following applications – 1-calc, psshutxp, resco file explorer (the today plugin works too), Coreplayer, CTLottopick, CurrencyConvertor, Ereader, Google Maps, GPSProxy, Keyswop, Memmaid, MSS Converter, Pocketxpdf, Samsung Mobile Navigator (Garmin XT), TomTom 6 and vsnap. Games installed are Astraware Casino, Astraware Solitaire, Astraware Suduko, Bejeweled 2, Mobile Stream Casino, Meteor, Invasion by Amiga, Platypus, Text Twist, Virtual Pool Mobile and Westward. Suduko and Text Twist get resized but work and look ok. All the other games work perfectly and look great on the screen. If however, you do require some older apps/games there is a free piece of software available at XDA Developers called realvga which changes the screen dpi from 128 to 96. This allows a lot more titles to work fine. To be honest, I don’t see the need. It is also possible to use Styletap and use any old Palm OS titles which fit perfectly on the screen.

When I first started using the i780, I installed a lot of my favourite apps. I soon realised that the i780 includes a number of extra apps which meant I now have uninstalled numerous applications. The Samsung i780 includes the following software: Alarms (samsung’s alarm app offering a lot more options and sounds), Java, Media Album (for viewing pics, videos, ringtones etc), Mini Player, Opera 8.65, Photo Slides (a brilliant photo app, so good I removed Resco Photo Viewer), Podcasts, RSS Reader, Smart Converter and Video Player. The 2mp camera is quite good and takes reasonable shots. You can easily switch from the front vga to rear camera.

Whilst the software package is excellent, what is even better is how well Samsung have integrated it into the hardware. Menu names have been changed to be more user friendly and easier to understand. Samsung have even created a lovely today screen. Other menu options in the settings have had additional fields added to help customise the device even more. Apart from changing the Today screen, there is also a theme app for further tweaks.







Tapping on the blue today screen icon, reveals contacts, and the other way switches to shortcuts. Tapping on the settings buttons reveals system options.



The system tap has options for switching from finger mouse to 4 way nav mode, vibrate on/off, backlight changing from 3 ways, flight mode, Bluetooth and wifi on/off. The screenshot next to it shows the mini player which is activated by pressing the camera button. This appears and allows you to change songs etc.. and disappears a few seconds later. A neat touch.

If you tap on a contact in the contact tab, you get the following screen.

Throughout the whole device, Samsung have tweaked the options. Instead of a few lousy ringtones, Samsung have included a number of different tones.

The front keyboard is superb to use. There are buttons on the front for the windows start menu, OK, phone red/green, messaging and gps. The beauty of a keyboard is the shortcuts. For example, press the start menu reveals a host of programs. One letter from the name is underlined. Press this key on the keyboard, and the app opens. Also, pressing the start menu, “P” for Programs and “G” goes to the Games Folder icon. But if I wanted Google Maps, I press “G” again and Google Maps is selected. If I had several apps beginning with a g, all you have to do is keep pressing the letter g and it scrolls through. Also in most application menus, a shortcut is available to use with the keyboard.

Battery. Now Samsung do include a second battery and a separate charging pod, so that must mean poor battery life. Actually, the battery life is excellent. The best 3g phone so far. I do have my backlight on power save, but I do manage a day and a half with one battery using it constantly.

Screen. Having 128 dpi provides a very clear readable screen. It is not possible at present to reduce the screen size so at first emails/sms look a little large. After a while I realised this was a bonus as it was easy to read everything, and this benefit stopped me trying realvga. The screen is difficult to see in bright sunlight.

Phone. Multimedia. PDA. All of these functions are performed effortlessly and reliably apart from one bug. The notification leds only work when the device screen is on and turn off once device goes into sleep mode. Hopefully Samsung will release a fix soon. This may be released with the new firmware for wm 6.1 which is rumoured to be in testing by Samsung at the moment. A workaround for the led problem is using a piece of software called dontforget.

GPS. The i780 has the option of enhanced gps. Samsung designed the i780 to integrate with Garmin XT. TomTom6 works too (COM8) but for a near instant fix, I use GPSProxy with TT6. After installing the special version of Garmin, the today plugin changes to Samsung Mobile Navigator. See screen shots above.

I have fitted a Brando Ultra Clear screen protector on my i780. It is impossible to notice it is fitted. I also will be reviewing 3 cases for the i780 soon; the slim Beyzacase, Pdair Sleeve and the Noreve Classic.

This is the first device that has not had any registry changes. It is that good out of the box. And it is the best device I have ever owned so far. I had the Samsung i600, which was ultra reliable too but boring. The i780 is reliable but exciting. I can see I will be keeping this device for a long time.

In summary, I would “demand” that you all try one. You might find you buy it. The Samsung i780 is a marvel. I love it.

Available and with thanks to

Review by Gavin Fabiani-Laymond

One thing that sticks out in my mind is the lack of Touchwiz 🙂

3 thoughts on “Blast from the Past – Samsung i780 – the BlackBerry Classic copied – my review

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