Samsung G600

The genius of Ridley Scott's Blade Runner is that it resisted the temptation to paint the future as the beeping, sterile laboratory of imagined technology that science fiction cliché usually dictates. Although it undeniably contained technical creations far beyond our current grasp, the film's world, rusty, raining and bleak, looked for the most part like our own.

In this way, the Samsung G600 is a glimpse of the near future. It doesn't look like anything particularly special, decked out in Samsung's signature gunmetal grey and muted silver, but for now it's quietly jostling with the flashier front-runners in the technology arms race.

The most obviously powerful feature is the 5 megapixel camera. Although we've seen these already in handsets from Nokia, Sony Ericsson and LG, it's the Samsung that delivers this power in the most modest way, cramming it artfully into an elegant 102 x 47.8 x 14.9 mm slider, just over six millimetres thinner than the N95, and more than four millimetres leaner across.

Most of the fascia is occupied by a generous 2.2 inch screen, displaying 16 million colours at a resolution of 320 x 240 pixels, putting it at the crisper end of the spectrum, around double what Nokia's N70 is capable of displaying.

The keypad is basic and uncluttered, sliding open to reveal a good-sized number pad. In closed form, only two silver buttons and the increasingly common circular input substantially distinguish the front from the back, which is blank except for a low-key company logo. If phones were people, the G600 would be a spy.

And, like all good spies, it's well equipped with gadgetry, although not as well as some of its peers on the vanguard of camera-phone technology. The camera, for instance, does not use a Xenon flash, settling instead for a far weaker LED unit. Rather more bafflingly, the G600 also limited to the 2G standard, and lacks the wi-fi that Nokia's recent big hitters have boasted.

These omissions aside however, it has all of the modern conveniences you'd expect, such as Bluetooth, WAP 2.0, and USB 2.0. Along with 40MB of onboard storage there's a hefty 1GB MicroSD card included, capable of holding around 200 songs.

As an audio player, the G600 is again superb in its quiet, unassuming way. You can categorise and rate songs, create playlists, and even have the music playing into two sets of headphones simultaneously. There's also support for a decent range of audio formats, including AAC and WMA, and a radio. Sound quality is excellent during music playback and calls, and the loudspeaker is crisp and meaty during speakerphone calls and, more importantly, games.

The menu system through which you navigate to these facilities is, you guessed it, simple and elegant. Dressed by default in a characteristic tobacco brown, it's both easy to use and subtly slick, with pages and icons sliding fluidly around as you browse. It does have a weakness though, and one that concerns us pocket gamers: the games are hard to find, buried in the obscurity of a folder called 'My Files.'

Once you've found them, you'll be moderately impressed. The G600 uses the ubiquitous J2ME platform, and is more than capable of running any modern game, with the exception of those sexy Symbian titles that only run on Nokia's series 60 handsets.

The input method for playing the games, meanwhile, is perfectly serviceable, and unless you're playing something that requires several keys, you can keep the keypad tucked away and rely on the robust and responsive circular D-pad at the bottom of the screen. We tried a range of titles, from Resident Evil to the pre-loaded Arkanoid clone Cannonball, and we never encountered any problems.

Yet disappointingly, there's no option to play in landscape mode, a feature that's becoming increasingly popular as handset manufacturers defer to the commercial presence of mobile games. The last two handsets reviewed on this site, for instance - the Nokia N81 and the Sony Ericsson W910 - both have the facility.

Nevertheless, judged against the vast majority of the competition the G600 is an excellent gaming phone. It's powerful, comfortable, and robust, which is all you really need. If we're reserved in our praise, it's not because this is an average handset, but because it's too good a handset not to have better gaming support.

It's not perfect then, but the G600 is still a stylish and well-equipped phone with a beautiful interface and a beast of a camera, more than powerful enough to remain at the vanguard throughout 2008. As a general user, you'll be absolutely thrilled with it. As a gamer, however, you'll merely be content.

Samsung G600

The G600 is a powerful and classy handset that's more than capable of running the latest games. Only a slightly lacklustre gaming interface keeps this handset from the front of the race
Rob Hearn
Rob Hearn
Having obtained a distinguished education, Rob became Steel Media's managing editor, now he's no longer here though, following a departure in late December 2015.