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Review of Samsung Corby II S3850 GSM Phone
Live photos of Samsung Corby II
Samsung has been very active in the market of touchscreen models and Corby was one of the hits last year. Young people liked this accessible headset in bright colors. The popularity was explained both by the design and price. Within a very short period of time even cheaper models hit the shelves and were offered by Samsung and its rivals, but Corby remained attractive with its looks. The model was instrumental in shaping the segment. As to the complaints towards the first Corby we have to mention the slow interface typical of entry level models of the time. In the second incarnation Samsung decided to solve the issue and boost features, which were lacking, for example, we finally get WiFi. As a result we have a model offering value for money, which can be rivalled in this department only by Star II envisaged as a more upscale model to allow for Corby II slotting in. The market changed all that and both models are similarly priced at the moment. Star II quickly depreciated to 125 Euros, while Corby II was slated for summer at the price of 130-140 Euros.
Is there any niche for Corby II with the positioning of the senior model? I think the price should be altered, because Star II looks more preferable for the money. It can lead to a couple of options. Either the price goes down dramatically to 70 Euros or the model stops selling. At the moment the phone is offered on selected markets and its future is under threat, but appropriate positioning can give it a considerable potential.
The model is aimed at people who would like to have a touchscreen solution, but does not need a smartphone. It is a simple device for everyday life boasting attractive design and low price. Corby II is a practical phone.
The original Corby represented the first bright spot in the colorless world of touchscreen phones. Its second version follows suit, but this time Corby does not have snap up panels to choose from, so you will have to stick to your initial preferences.
During the last year the market changed a lot and the majority of entry level touchscreen phones are offered in bright colors now. For example, Samsung Galaxy Mini has the same body design apart from the central key, and similar colors. Models look like carbon copies of each other sporting identical screens, but Corby II has no Android.
The dimensions of the phone are 109.9 x 60.6 x 11.7 mm and it weighs 102 g. It is felt well in hand and can be easily carried in a pocket too. The body is excellent in assembly with all components fitting each other. The back cover has a graphic image and cannot be easily scratched. Thick, glossy plastic looks and feels nice.
There are several color combinations available to choose from. A yellow model can have yellow back cover and sides only or yellow sides with the black back cover. There are models in pink, white and gray. It is possible that on selected markets other colors will be available as well.
On the front panel we have hardware green and red buttons and the central menu button. The left side hosts the paired volume rocker and a strap hole nearby. The right side has on/off button and a MicroSD memory cards slot protected by a plastic cap. The top has enough space for a 3.5 mm headset jack and a capped microUSB jack to use it with the cable and charger. The jack was sunk too low into the body, so not all chargers will fit it well. Some may touch the body to prevent a proper insertion. I have never come across a similar issue before.
A 3.14" screen has only a 240х320 (TFT, 262,000 colors) resolution to boast. It uses resistive technology and does not support multitouch. Taking into account the price of the model the picture is well displayed, but the brightness is lacking and the end products would benefit from additional colors. It fades away in the sun, but stays readable.
The screen fits up to 10 text lines and 3 service lines. In the messages mode the amount goes up to 16 lines depending on the fonts, which scaling is not supported this time. Almost all preinstalled fonts are convenient to use.
There is no light indicator here, so you have to adjust the parameter manually. Automatic screen rotation is absent as well and the QWERTY keypad is available only in the vertical mode.
The phone has no VibeZ (body vibrations when you touch the screen) support and it is not explainable.
The model comes equipped with a 1000 mAh Li-Ion battery. The manufacturer claims up to 8 hours of talktime and 290 hours on standby. In real life you can get around 2 days of operation with one hour of talktime, several sent messages, the minimum use of the mail and one hour of music playback a day. Constant mail and web users can rely on one day of work. On average you can expect to enjoy two days of operation and the parameter goes up to 3-4 days if you save its power resources. In comparison with modern smartphones its slower processor has some hidden advantages.
Full battery charging takes around 2 hours.
Bluetooth. The handset supports various profiles, including Headset, Handsfree, Serial Port, Dial Up Networking, File Transfer, Object Push, Basic Printing and A2DP. Bluetooth 3 has EDR too. Headsets operation is traditionally easy.
USB connection. The modem operation is not supported, but you can compensate for the drawback by using Samsung KIES or installing appropriate drivers.
In the USB Mass Storage mode the handset is detected without additional drivers to copy necessary files. USB 2 allows for the data transfer speed of 5 Mbps.
During the PC connection you cannot use USB and Bluetooth simultaneously, so the handset asks you to disable Bluetooth despite the current status (whether you are connected and transfer data or not), which is extremely inconvenient.
USB connection triggers charging. GSM networks capitalize on EDGE of class 12.
WiFi. 802.11 b/g/n protocol is supported and the connection is seamless. The same applies to the operation.
There are 39 MB of the inbuilt memory and it is entirely available to users from the very outset. The card is seen separately with the two types files access. The files manager allows copying files to and from the memory card. Cards are hot swappable. We tested microSD cards of up to 16 GB and everything worked well.
Here we get an ordinary 2 MP camera without the autofocus. Camera interface is horizontal and all options are selected from the screen by simple touching of large icons, which makes the whole process convenient. Sadly, we do not have a dedicated shutter button and you have to touch the screen in order to take a picture.
The camera supports the following resolutions:
The phone supports video recording in mpeg4 for the top resolution and in settings you can select video recording with or without the sound. All settings are comparable with those for pictures, but resolution parameters are different and you benefit from effects. The maximum resolution is 320х240 (15 fps) and the quality is average.
This model borrowed from Bada all software capabilities and TouchWiz interface.
Screen unlocking is possible with the help of gestures just touch the screen and move the field to the side. It is represented by a puzzle, so missed events are shown as elements thereof. If you drag such an element to a free field you go directly to the app (for example, messages or calls list). If you simply unlock the phone you will go to the standby mode.
In the standby mode you see the desktop with widgets and by default the phone boasts three desktops. There are already twenty installed widgets, but you can download additional ones. Widgets bar is located at the bottom of the screen.
You can go to the main menu by pressing the central key. The menu is displayed by a 3х4 grid and has several screens. To the menu you can add apps icons and links to Internet pages.
The operation with the touchscreen is easy. You press on a necessary item and it is selected. Then you see an information field, which requires pressing to activate the keypad. This QWERTY keypad is available in the vertical version only due to the absence of a sensor.
Similarly to desktops you can add up to 10 menu pages. It is not that important as we cannot add our own icons and links, so it is rather a location for new applications downloaded from the apps store. Alternatively you can scatter all icons on different surfaces, but the navigation will be complicated. It is convenient that icons can be placed everywhere and not only in the Menu. In other words, only one icon is fixed.
Adaptive menu is an excellent solution to form a menu depending on the frequency of usage of different apps. On the first screen you always see apps that are popular with you. Those accustomed to more fixed order can initially suffer from this fluidity. The feature is not activated by default.
In all menus there is a lower bar with contextual keys. Their content and number (no more than 3) change depending on the current menu.
Lists scrolling. If you touch the area to the left of the screen the scrolling will be faster than on the right. It is a minor tweak, but improves the experience immensely. In lists with names you can have fast scrolling looking for a particular word. For example in the images list you can go straight to the necessary letter in no time.
In the menu was added a pop-up status bar with three icons - WiFi, Bluetooth and sound. All events are displayed here as well: incoming SMS, mail messages, calls, etc. It looks very similar to Android. For a new SMS you see the address or name of the sender and first lines of the message itself.
Multitasking is standard: by pressing and holding the central key you activate the list of active apps and switch between them. Apps are represented by icons in the traditional 2х4 grid way. You can close all or separate apps. Regarding the limitations we can mention only one Ц at the moment you can open any number of apps, but Java applications do not function in the background mode. The same applies to the video player and calculator, which cannot be minimized.
Minimization does not lead to the loss of data. An app remembers its latest state and you can resume the operation later on (it depends on the app and in some games I could not get the desired effect).
Based on my personal experience I can say that the handset handles several apps in the background mode well. Nevertheless, if you open any web page in the browser the entire RAM will be swallowed by this single app. Widgets are also devastating for the memory. If you often use widgets often contacting their online servers the browser may ask to shut them down. If you close online widgets they disappear from the desktop and require new installation.
I cannot describe all widgets here, because the library of free widgets contains around 50 titles at the moment and due to the prolific developers this number will soon reach one hundred.
Let's look at the most popular and useful ones.
Buddies Now shows your contacts from the favorites; for each contact you can make a call or create a message from there. The network activity (Twitter, Facebook) of your friend is also seen. Click on a message to go to the list of latest messages of the contact in the phonebook, which is very convenient. I recommend setting up around 10 contacts for better communication.
Most Visited is the list of latest opened web pages: without going to the browser you can activate the page from the desktop, which is handy.
Feeds&Update shows latest Facebook and Twitter updates. You can immediately answer the message or repost something. This useful client makes it unnecessary to install built-in clients, especially Twitter, but has the limit for the number of downloaded messages (from 5 to 8), which is slightly irritating. You always have to press "Show More".
There is a score of other widgets, which are too simply to describe. Among them are access to mailboxes and one touch e-mails creation.
Information input is carried out from the screen keypad with the consecutive input of symbols (by default) or its QWERTY variant. Buttons are small due to the screen size. I often pressed neighboring buttons, so the information input did not impress me much.
During the first run you can select any number of languages even for texts input. Languages can be switched between with one touch. First comes your selected language, then English followed by the rest of the lineup.
You can activate contacts from the quick start bar at the bottom of the screen to see the list with all entries from the phone's memory and the SIM card. The first panel represents the general list, while the second one shows groups. Then come favorites.
The list shows only names, but to the left come contact's photo. To see the details open the contact.
You can use any graphic file, a picture or video as contact's photo. For a contact you can enter up to 5 phone numbers of different types (mobile, office, home, fax, etc) and the one of them will be main (by default Ц the first entered). Fields are not fixed. From the phone's menu you can introduce additional fields like e-mail, address and so on.
In the phone there are two fields for the first and last names (only first field search is enabled). During the display the fields are joined with the first name coming at the beginning. For example, Eldar Murtazin will be displayed precisely this way. Each field is limited to 20 symbols in every language. You can switch languages during the names input.
Entries in different languages are filtered in the order: first come contacts in a local language (for example, Russian) followed by English contacts. It is convenient and repeats your experience from from computer apps. Taking into account the possibility of switching languages during the search it becomes clear that the handset handles multilingual entries with ease. Lists can be filtered by first or last name.
Let's return to the names input. Besides phone numbers you can add several e-mail addresses and a small text note. For each name you can select any sound file as a ringtone with mp3 tracks available too. You can easily create any number of groups with particular ringtones and pictures (by default you have three groups and "without group" option). For SMS messages you can choose particular sound signals.
In the phone memory you can store up to 2000 names with filled numbers and data. If you leave some fields empty the number of names will remain the same anyway. In the settings you can choose where to store all new numbers. There is also a transfer option for entries on the SIM card in both directions. Developers decided that the best synchronization tool is a PC, namely the use of MS Outlook. Any entry can be sent to another device as SMS/MMS, mail message or via Bluetooth. There are no issues here and any phonebook entry can be swiftly sent to another device and is recognized there in a hassle free manner.
In the phone you can create your own personal card, which completely conforms with the format of a phonebook's entry. You can independently create any number of contacts' groups and choose for every group its picture and ringtone. Each group can host up to 20 contacts. During the incoming call the picture takes up around 50% of the screen and is well visible. For a particular contact it is possible to pick a custom vibration level (choose one out of five).
For Facebook and Twitter contacts synchronization is available (from services to the phone) and you can always select particular contacts. Unfortunately there is no synchronization with Gmail and all social networks features from Bada models are absent (there are no panels in the name viewing, while Activities were also ditched).
The common log contains all the events including SMS/MMS/mail. You can only open the common list from the dialer. I didn't find any limit to the number of events it can display Ц it definitely can show up to a hundred events. From here you can only jump to the call log where you can filter calls by incoming, outgoing, missed. All these logs are available from the main menu.
You can quickly access logs from one another. An entry displays the date and the time of the call as well as all other communications with this contact Ц all history in one place. Same calls are grouped and next to the entry you see the number of calls. As usual, you can see the total call time and the call cost (if you have this service).
You can blacklist separate numbers to automatically ignore calls. And there is a separate log for sent messages.
As well as other manufacturers Samsung no longer discriminates between SMS and MMS Ц you create a message and only then depending on its contents it becomes either an SMS or an MMS. But there is still an option of manually creating an MMS (in case you need to send a text to an email bypassing the mail client).
You can view messages both in the classical way and as a chat. In the chat view mode the messages are abridged and you need to click on it to read all the text and it is not always handy as well as the fact that the chat view displays MMS together with SMS.
You can sort your messages by date, name or by frequency of communication.
There is a unique function of sending messages on schedule. Once you have typed a message you can select on what date and time the message should be sent Ц a nice feature and I think many will like it.
You can archive text messages to the memory card.
The phone memory can store up to 1300 messages; the phone supports the EMS standard and is compatible with Nokia Smart Messaging. You can choose the addressee from your phone book, the recent or from a group. As usual, you can have blacklists for every type of messages to automatically delete all messages from the specified numbers. You can move messages to your own folders. For emails you can blacklist not only addresses but also the subjects.
An outgoing MMS is limited to 295KB while the size of incoming messages is not limited. Among additional settings there are also such as: ads ignoring, reception mode while in roaming and in home network. All messages are stores in the common dynamic memory as well as emails.
There is also a handy SOS feature. If it is on then pressing the volume rocker four times initiates sending the message "I am in emergency. Please help me" to the specified earlier contacts (up to five) and all calls from these numbers will be answered automatically. You can choose the addressees but you cannot edit the message.
The preinstalled mail client is very regular. You can set up to five accounts each having a limit of 1000 messages. Attachments are supported only there is a limit of 1MB for outgoing messages and 5MB for incoming ones. You can view the attached files by means of the preinstalled browser that supports HTML and works with webpages correctly.
There is also a setup wizard that can help set up your accounts.
When you open the player you see the All Tracks list. When you scroll the titles horizontally you see playlists (your custom playlists as well as automatically created: most played, recently played etc.). Here you can also filter tracks by artists or albums. In both cases you can view album covers instead of the names or titles. To make the interface look more attractive Samsung added a feature that displays a default picture for missing album covers. This messes the interface a bit as it becomes a bit too colorful.
The search option allows you to search for artists or songs by typing and there is an option for every track called Find Similar. You can add any found songs to your Wish List.
The player interface works in two variants Ц with the album cover or with the equalizer. I preferred the first variant the second being wearisome for my eyes. As for the rest the player is quite typical for Samsung phones and I'll just enumerate its specs.
It can play tracks randomly, consecutively and repeat tracks. You can download an MP3 directly via Bluetooth or by means of the sync app or with help of Windows Media Player. The bitrate of the files is not important Ц the phone plays all of them correctly. It also supports WMA, AAC, eAAC, eAAC+ containers.
During playback you see the title of the current track and the total number of songs in your library. There is an equalizer but you cannot edit the presets. You can play music through a headset or via the loudspeaker. There are 14 levels of volume. You can create your own playlists. The player can work in the background in which case you see the track title and the open controls button.
While the phone is in standby with active player you also see the track title and the controls.
The loudspeaker is not really great Ц it lacks power but the sound is still loud and you can always hear it.
The bundled headset is not bad with music. While listening to music via a headset you can enable 5.1 Surround Ц it is a kind of equalizer that increases the stereo effect. It is an analogue and competitor of Dolby Mobile.
Find Music (earlier known as Music Recognition) Ц similar to TrackID from Sony Ericsson. It can find the name of the artist and the song's name by analyzing a part of a track.
FM Radio. You can save up to 99 radio channels in the phone memory. The radio works with the 87.5 MHz to 108MHz range. There is an auto search feature but you can edit the name of channels and some of them are recognized only as a frequency. The radio can work via the loudspeaker. All in all the radio works fine though reception quality of some stations is rather poor. It can also work in the background.
The RDS feature shows additional info besides the name of the channel. You can record radio broadcasts in the phone memory.
It is a regular player Ц you can jump to another frame by using the slider and it supports DNSe. Unfortunately, the phone lacks performance so the player can only work with up to the 240x400 resolution. It supports standard codecs H.263, H.264 (3GP, mp4).
Images are displayed as thumbnails and the list opens momentarily Ц there are no lags even if you have a lot of pictures. You can sort your images by tags, date or view only favorites.
As usual you can view your images in slide show or send your pictures to other devices by any means including Bluetooth. There is a quick upload feature for those who are frequent to social networks.
Social Hub. All your mail, social networks and IM accounts in one place. You don't need to browse many apps to get the picture of all your social activities. Everything is available from this menu you see when you open this app. The idea is great but even greater is the fact that you don't even need it: all the information is immediately available from your phone book all new messages pop-up and you can answer them right away just like SMS.
The Facebook client is good Ц it can do practically everything and it is one of the best such clients among all platforms.
The Twitter client however is not that great the main issue being that the feed only contains 5-8 tweets which is way too few. I think it is a crime to save traffic sacrificing convenience in such a way. You end pressing the refresh button all the time. You cannot adjust the number of tweets to be displayed in the settings. In the feed you can press the name of the author to view his profile or tweet him. Too bad names are not hyperlinks. I would say that the general functionality of this client is mediocre or even insufficient. I solved this problem by using a Twitter widget instead if the client.
The IM client is rather good Ц it works with Utalk or Palringo, there is also Google Talk, AIM and there will be soon a couple of others.
The phone memory can store up to 500 entries for one type of events Ц meeting, and up to 100 anniversaries. Each entry contains the time and date of the event and the time of expiration. You can set up an alarm and the time period before the event you want to be notified. You can set up repeatable events (you can conveniently edit the repeat time and specify exceptions). Viewing the calendar is easy Ц different types of events are marked with different colors. The downer here is that you cannot add an event by pressing on a date in the calendar.
Notes Ц quite regular notes that look great.
Tasks Ц you can have up to 100 tasks with specified priority.
Time Ц several functions together. The world time displays time in different cities and there is a map on which you can choose the time zone. There are also an alarm clock, countdown and timer.
Calculator Ц a basic calculator.
Converter Ц a very handy tool for converting measurement units Ц you can see the full list on the screen.
Voice Recorder. You can record up to several hours of voice memos and the number of recordings is not limited. You can however set the time limit for recordings. All recordings are saved in a separate folder. Recordings of lectures and meetings are quite comprehensible and this app can replace a digital voice recorder. it can also record your phone conversations.
Bluetooth. This app looks unusual Ц you can browse the map of active devices like some wireless PC managers, you can also view devices as a list. All features are supported and there are no limitations.
Games. Multitasking does not work with Java apps.
Here you find all your files: music, pictures, videos, sounds. All files are downloaded into this directory. The downer here is that sometimes new files are not displayed immediately Ц you nee to close and reopen the app to view them.
You can view your files as a list or a grid. You can select one or several files from the list. You can copy, delete and move files to other directories (phone memory, memory card). You can sort files by date, type, file name or size. The common list displays files from both the phone memory and the memory card.
You can password protect any directory of the phone. You can adjust the time after which the screen turns off and the brightness level. I didn't find any unusual or unique settings. You can choose the desktop wallpaper from the preinstalled set. Of course, there are different profiles that allow you to quickly change the phone's settings.
As usual, you can change the size, color and style of the font to be used in the dialer.
Mobile Tracker Ц here you can specify a phone number to send SMS whenever a SIM card is changed in your phone. The message contains the new phone number. You can only access this option by entering the password so that no one can turn this feature off. Once a new SIM is installed the message is sent only once every time you change the SIM. It is an interesting feature that can increase your chances of finding your phone if it was stolen.
This is an application that allows you to view MS Office (MS Word, Excel, PowerPoint) files as well as Adobe Acrobat (PDF) and other graphic and video formats. The cool thing is how fast it works Ц a 20MB PDF files opens in just a few seconds then you can zoom in/out, rotate pages as you wish. You can edit any files only view them Ц but this is often enough especially if you take into account that you need to convert files to be able to edit them on your phone.
System Manager. This app is obviously an Android influence but its functionality is rather poor so far. You can view the CPU performance, running apps and the battery charge. But this manager is of little use since you cannot end running apps from it.
The call quality is has no issues. The loudspeaker is loud but the vibration alert is rather weak.
The phone costs around И90-100 in Europe. It offers a nice price to quality ratio, it has a touchscreen but the number of caveats is also great. The downsides are the small screen that makes you mistype while using the QWERTY layout. There is no automatic screen rotation but this is not a critical disadvantage. The responsiveness of the screen also leaves much to be desired.
In my opinion, many will buy this phone as the first touchscreen phone but it won't give you full satisfaction. The sales rates in this case will not mean that the phone is perfect but quite contrary. The first Corby's main advantage was that it was very cheap Ц it was one of the first touchscreens and one of the cheapest Ц Corby II does not have it. the specs and features are not bad but it still does not give you an impression of a successful model. For roughly similar cash you can get Star II which has better ergonomics and a better screen. Also you may consider Nokia 5228 instead. It is not a 2011 bestseller but it will find its buyers thanks to the low price. If you are considering buying a touchscreen in this price range I would recommend you to have a look at Star II Ц it costs similarly and offers better functionality. Corby II today is nonetheless is an interesting model but it should have a much lower price tag.
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Published 12 June 2011
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