It looks like I have found the perfect device for my needs as a data-centric mobile business user with a sense of aesthetics...

Three weeks ago, I attended a Microsoft-internal event over in Seattle, and my employer generously gave away some black shiny Samsung BlackJack II (SGH-i617) Windows Mobile 6 smartphones. And I was a lucky winner! I immediately fell in love with this (AT&T branded) device, and the love has deepened since then :-)

The BlackJack II is really a great mobile phone that does not only serve as a mobile data device (messaging, surfing, etc.), but also to really make phone calls easily - s.th. that my previous HTC TyTN II (now a replacement device in a drawer) didn't really manage to combine. Additionally, the Samsung really fits in a pocket, looks great, and simply works as expected. Since it is not available over here in Germany, almost everyone who sees it gets envious... ;-)

(I had to invest $19.99 for a SIM unlock, btw., to use the phone with my T-Mobile SIM card. Couldn't wait until I get the unlock code sent to me by my employer ;-)

OK, so what is so great about this device? It's got

  • 3G (UMTS) + EDGE + GPRS + GSM
  • Bluetooth
  • GPS (a SiRF III chip!) - it took me a while to make this work since AT&T expects its customers to get a TeleNav subscription, and didn't make sure it works with any GPS app. So I installed the TeleNav app and ran it once (just in case it comes with additional drivers or s.th. that make the GPS fully functional), used the Settings app from the WM 6 Standard SDK to configure a COM port, and the GPSTest app from ChartCross to test the GPS. Now it works with Windows Live Search for Windows Mobile, and hopefully also with my Mobile Navigator 6 from Navigon (I am waiting for the activation code, will report as soon as it works).
  • Great display - bright 320 x 240 LCD that's nicely readable even in sunlight
  • Great keyboard
  • Front scroll wheel - this is a great feature that makes scrolling through lists and pages easy with either hand.
  • Great battery - lasts a couple of days at least on my usage pattern
  • Camera (2 MP) and sound quality are OK.
  • Fast CPU
  • Enough memory :-)
  • Great overall finish - no open ports, connectors, screws, etc. that give most other devices a techie look ;-)
  • USB connection settings let you choose between "Modem", "ActiveSync", and "Mass Storage" - the latter is a great feature that lets you use the Storage Card in the phone as a mass storage device with your desktop computer, for easy file copying. On my TyTN II, I needed a separate app (WM5torage) to get this functionality.
  • Cool homescreen plugins that really display useful information:
    image

Of course, there are also a few minor things which make the device only almost perfect. Among them:

  • No WiFi - not really a big deal for me since I'm on a 3G flat rate.
  • Proprietary connectors - arrgh, this is a nuisance! Why can't everybody stick to Mini USB? The BlackJack II uses a special connector that is even incompatible with most of the other Samsung connectors, so I can't get hold of any adapter etc. for this thing here in Germany. If I ever lose the USB cable and charger that came with it... :-(
  • No headphone jack - users have to use adapters, I just ordered one online with a U.S. shop somewhere, and have it shipped across the Atlantic Ocean.
  • No support for SDHC apparently. Works fine with my 2 GB microSD, but even with the SDHC driver for HTC phones that you can find somewhere, it does not want to work with my other 6 GB card. Well, no big deal, I've read it handles up to 4 GB.
  • No Internet Sharing application installed - a must for me since I'm using this feature a lot, my phone serves as a UMTS modem this way. Search the web for instructions on how to add this feature through a custom install :-)

So, to summarize, I'm happier with this phone than I have ever before with any other device (and I've had quite a few of them).

:-)