The Samsung i450 now joins the likes of Apple’s iPhone and Sony’s ‘Walkman’ phones in the multimedia-hybrid race to let everybody know that phones just aren’t phones anymore. Until now, the problem for phone manufacturers has been that most of us still aren’t willing to put aside our beloved iPod or mp3 players just yet - the i450 is not a bad attempt at changing that.
The i450 is part of the Live Loud range, which looks like it’s aimed at the 14 to 35 year demographic, for the very reason that I can’t imagine anyone older than that who actually wants to ‘Live Loud’, even though MTV wishes we all did. The i450 even has a speaker on the phone that tries to pump the volume in attempts to get us to live louder. It’s far from an 80’s boombox, but it’s loud enough to excite the kids up the back of the bus.
The phone itself feels solidly built, weighs only 114g and looks a lot less flimsy than similar phones we’ve seen in the past. The i450 keypad is big, clear and feels tactile - which is a good feature that some manufacturers overlook - though the numbers do feel a little flat and slick, so it might take a little getting used to if you’re a marathon texter.
Network connectivity is well catered for and the i450 connects via the ‘3’ network on HSDPA, so expect high speed net access for Facebook and Myspace, and music downloads. A Google search is embedded in the phone’s main menu for convenience. You can also download songs directly via Planet 3 (it took us less than five minutes to download a song), which is also located at the bottom of the phone’s menu and links to an easy to navigate online music shop, that contains over 300 000 tunes. Standard tracks go for $3, which we feel is too expensive to be competitive with iTunes.
We played around with the multimedia side of the phone quite a bit, considering it’s the big selling point of the unit. The phone actually delivers good quality sound through the supplied headphones and for a second or two, in some delirious marketer's wet dream, we too felt like we suddenly wanted to ‘live loud’.
The i450 also features a toggle wheel for navigating through artists and songs, which looks deceptively like the iPod’s scroll wheel. The phone has designated music controls (instead of using the keypad as in most phones), and we found the toggle wheel responsive and easy to use. You simply slide out the phone in one direction to access the music toggle wheel, or the other to make calls, hence the ‘two-way’ slider nature of the unit. We also liked how the 2.4inch LCD screen adjusts and automatically sets to a horizontal or vertical landscape without having to press a button.
There is a micro-SD slot, which means as flash cards become cheaper you’ll be able to store a large enough assortment of music. It comes bundled with a 2GB card, which isn’t huge, but adequate for a couple hundred songs; so for now you might want to hold onto your old 30GB iPod a little longer.
The i450 includes a token 2.0MP camera, which is hardly earth shattering, but adequate for party snappers. Unfortunately the pics we took don’t really compare with some of the better lenses we’ve seen in other phones. The i450 is also Bluetooth 2.0 compatible, and comes with a headphone jack and an FM radio, which is a nice touch if you get stuck for songs.
All in all, it’s a good phone if you’re considering a decent music-phone hybrid. But we’re waiting on micro-SD cards coming down in price and getting bigger in storage before we decide the time has come to live loud and ditch our mp3 players. The i450 retails for $599 outright and monthly plans through the 3 network are available online
.Thanks to Samsung and 3 mobile for providing us with the phone to review.