Review by Michael Oryl on Friday April 14, 2006.
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Phones like the Samsung SGH-P300 get their appeal from their compact sizes and low weights. While we have seen similar looking "credit card" type phones in the past, none of them have really offered a complete spec sheet that could compete with other normal handsets of their time like the P300 can.
Calculator jokes aside, the P300 shows that Samsung can make handsets that are seriously small and thin - and a bit novel. That's a nice change for a company known best for a sea of silver clamshells, and more recently for a number of Motorola RAZR/SLVR wanna be devices. The P300's minimalist design isn't for everybody, but it will certainly have its appeal to many. The question is, does the device manage to offer more than just the design? Read on to find out.
Before we get into the review itself, though, we'd like to thank Wireless Imports for providing us with the Samsung P300 used in this review.
The biggest draw of the SGH-P300 certainly has to be its physical being. It measures only 88mm x 54mm x 9mm (3.5" x 2.1" x .35") in size, and weighs in at 83g (2.9oz). That is a small, compact mobile phone. If you are willing to deal with increased size and weight, Samsung ships the P300 with a very slick leather case that includes its own battery, which boosts the phone's battery life by about 50% - and looks good while doing so. The case is good for every day use, and can be quickly unclipped to give you the smaller package for that night out on the town. A very nice design.
Almost every story written about Samsung's SGH-P300 makes note of how it looks quite like a calculator. It is true, it does look like one. But it is built more solidly than most, making heavy use of metal materials. The display is mounted in a horizontal format, unlike most phones, and the keypad layout has been changed to make better use of the P300's wide but short form factor. As such, the * and # keys are to the left of the 4 and 7 keys, and the 0 key is located to the right of the 9 key. This takes some getting use to, but becomes a non-issue eventually. The feel of the keys themselves is slightly less than optimal, particularly in the case of the softkeys, in my experience. They wobble a bit, and don't always register if you press on one of the key edges, something I often did with the softkeys for some reason.
Overall the keypad is very usable, but it could stand for some tweaking. The directional-pad (d-pad) also works, but is less than ideal. For one, it really needs a center select/OK button instead of the separate OK button located under the left softkey. There is a dedicated C (clear) key on the right, which is handy, as is a MP3 player key.
The left edge of this thin handset is where you will find the volume control, located rather low, adjacent to the left softkey and OK key. The right edge of the P300 is where you will find the dedicated camera shutter button and the power/data port. The power/data port on the P300 is not the same as used by most other GSM Samsung phones - it is much smaller. The cover for the port is very difficult to open when the phone is mounted in the leather case, something that is required for charging the case's built-in battery. The bottom of the phone has a few electrical contacts for the case's battery and the battery cover release, and the back of the device is where you will find the camera and flash, along with the metal battery cover itself.