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AT&T Wireless Samsung i617 BlackJack II Smart Phone Review

It didn't take long for Samsung to release their follow-up to the original BlackJack which was released in late 2006. The new BlackJack II offers a host of new features such video sharing, Bluetooth, 3G connectivity, 2 MP camera, built-in GPS, and many more. The newly redesigned Samsung BlackJack from AT&T Wireless should be a hit in 2008.

The BlackJack II is actually set to release at the end of 2007, just in time for the holidays. It's a relatively affordable smart phone at about $149 with a 2 year service agreement. Right now, I know that AT&T is offering the BlackJack II online for $74.99 (including a rebate) with a 2 year service agreement. At this price, you need to go pick up one of these cell phones/media player/GPS/digital camera/Web browser/XM satellite radios (I think you get the picture). This phone is one of the best values right now in terms of features vs. price.

Design of Samsung Blackjack II

The Samsung BlackJack II is almost the same exact size as the original BlackJack, but it is a slightly larger. This phone only weighs about 4 ounces, and it's only about a 1/2 inch thick. I think that this is the perfect size smart phone - not too small, but not too large.

The 2.4 inch TFT LCD screen isn't all that big, but it does have a nice 320 x 240 resolution with over 65,000 colors. Photos, videos, and web pages look great on the LCD display, but watching extended-length videos will put a lot of strain on your eyes with the screen being so small.

The Samsung BlackJack II currently comes in 2 colors: black or wine red. I think both colors look great, but the wine red model seems to attract less fingerprints than the black model. The back of the BlackJack II sports a nice "leather-like" material that adds a bit of style as well as some protection from bumps and bruises.
QWERTY keyboard and new scroll whee/D-padQWERTY keyboard and new scroll whee/D-pad
The full QWERTY keyboard has been upgraded in the new BlackJack II. The new keyboard has slightly larger keys than its predecessor, making it easier to text message or IM with this device. This is a great messaging phone, and I would almost put it on the same level as the BlackBerry when it comes to messaging capabilities.

Features of Samsung Blackjack II

This device is not short on features. The BlackJack II uses the latest Window Mobile operating system called Windows Mobile 6. This is a very easy to use, visual-appealing, and efficient operating system. This OS is powered by a 260 Mhz processor with 128 MB of RAM and 256 MB of ROM, all of which are upgrades from the original BlackJack. Overall, the "insides" of the BlackJack II provide speedy navigating through the menus without much lag, and they also allow for multitasking with this device.

Wireless features include Bluetooth 2.0 and 3G HSDPA connectivity for ultra-fast Internet. This smart phone is compatible with most Bluetooth headsets for wireless connectivity, which is a good thing considering there is not 2.5 or 3.5mm headphone jack. The headphone jack is a proprietary one, which means that you'll need an adaptor (not included) to connect most headphones. Web browsing is lightning fast with the BlackJack II's 3G connectivity. This phone sports the latest in 3G technology to take advantage of the 3.6 Mbps speeds of the 3G HSDPA network.
2.0 MP camera2.0 MP camera
The BlackJack II sports a better 2 MP camera (1.3 MP in the original BlackJack) that takes decent photos when you don't have your digital camera around. There are a few settings adjustments that can be made with the camera feature, but it does not have a built-in flash. You can even take video with the phone.

The BlackJack II is an awesome music phone that will play most music formats, and it will also play video - even streaming music and video. There is an XM radio feature that allows you to play satellite radio through the phone (subscription required). Music can't be downloaded on-air like some other smart phones, but there is a microSD card slot for adding music/video to the phone. Samsung claims you can use up to a 4 GB microSD card with the BlackJack, but I have seen an 8 GB microSD card work just fine with this device.

The GPS feature works great in this phone, although it does cost extra to get the TeleNav Navigation subscription ($9.99 per month). For those who don't have a GPS device, though, the $10 per month is well worth it. The navigation feature will give you voice-guided directions, 3D maps, and local points of interest (POI). Other navigation services are compatible with the BlackJack II as well, such as Google Maps for Mobile .

Another new feature in the Samsung BlackJack II is the video sharing feature. This feature will allow you to use the device much like a video phone where you can see the person you're talking to as well as hear them. This is a cool feature, but it has its drawbacks. For one, both parties must have the AT&T video sharing subscription in order for it to work. And two, the subscription cost for this feature is a little steep ( $4.99 per month for 25 minutes of use, $9.99 for 60 minutes). Still, it's a cool feature for the traveling business professional who wants to see their family when they call home and not just hear them.
Samsung i617 BlackJack IISamsung i617 BlackJack II

Conclusion on Samsung Blackjack II

Overall, the Samsung i617 BlackJack II is a great smart phone with a ton of features and a decent price tag. This phone will do a lot of the things that much more expensive phone do, but for much less money. Plus, Samsung has addressed many of the issues in the original BlackJack, such as the battery life problem. The new BlackJack has a beefier 1700mAh battery that features 7 hours of talk-time and 14 days of standby - a big improvement over the previous model. If you're looking to upgrade to your first smart phone, the Samsung BlackJack II is a perfect choice.

Cnet rating: 7.7/10
Laptop Mag rating: 4/5
Joe Eitel's rating: 8/10

Sources: Cnet , Laptop Mag , AT&T

Joe Eitel's Gadget Blog
InventorSpot
Comments
Jul 15, 2008
by Anonymous

camera

does anyone else problem with blackjack II has delay with camera. sometime photos are blurry, does anyone know how to correct this issue

Jul 29, 2008
by Anonymous

What you need to do is go

What you need to do is go into the options on the camera menu and shut off the review.. i have no clue why but when you do that it takes better pictures

Dec 24, 2008
by Anonymous

fresh phone

fresh phone