- Very thin and light
- Five-way navigator is easy to use
- External speaker better than most
- Very good camera
- Voice quality could be better
- Performance is OK
The Samsung Jack is the latest in a line of bar-style Windows Mobile smartphones with a physical QWERTY keyboard and a 3.2 megapixel camera, along with expected features such as Bluetooth and Wi-Fi wireless networking.
It is currently available from AT&T for $99 after a $100 mail-in rebate, which is an attractive price for a device that does many — but not all — things well.
DESIGN AND BUILD
One of the nicest things about the Samsung Jack is just how small, light, and thin it is. When I first received the phone, I was surprised by how light it is, and started looking around for the battery, which I figured hadn’t been installed yet. So I was even more surprised to find that the battery was already in the phone, and it still feels lighter than just about every other device I’ve reviewed.
Thankfully, that doesn’t mean that the Jack feels cheap; quite the contrary, the build quality is excellent. There isn’t any bending or creaking when I apply pressure to the case, and the overall impression I get is one of solid quality.
The exterior is all plastic, with a silver band on the back with Samsung branding. The sides of the phone are a shiny dark material that reminds me of hematite, and the front of the phone with the display has a mirrored effect.
The buttons, especially the five-way navigator just under the screen, are all a joy to use — big enough not to be fiddly, so that I know when I press one exactly what is going to happen. That’s a relief, because the five-way navigator on some devices is so small it’s hard not to press it in the wrong direction when you’re just trying to press in to make a selection.
There’s a microSD slot for memory expansion that is in the battery compartment under the back cover. And while the Jack doesn’t include a standard headphone jack, at least the dongle is included so you can use your own headphones if you like without being forced to purchase that accessory separately.
The 320-by-240, non-touchscreen display is good, but nothing really sets it apart as being exceptional. It was worse outside than most of the other devices I’ve used; when it’s sunny the glare from the screen makes it more of a mirror than a display, meaning that I can see myself much better than I can see my calendar appointments or contacts.
The keyboard isn’t too bad, but it is very small, so I found that if I wanted to be highly accurate I was better off using my fingernails and the edges of my fingers rather than the pad of my fingers. The “home” indicators on the F and J keys are so small as to be nearly indistinguishable from the rest of the keys. There also isn’t much horizontal or vertical separation between the keys, so you should expect to spend some time looking at your fingers while you get used to this keyboard.