Samsung Champ Video Review:
What’s miniscule, has a 2.4” resistive touchscreen, and is as cheap as they come? We’ll save you the suspense, it’s the Samsung Champ, aka C3300. Graced with a scaled down version of Samsung’s TouchWiz user interface, the Champy (sorry, we couldn’t resist) has one of the tiniest touchscreens we’ve encountered so far.
The phone also sports dual speakers in the front, and mock surround sound in headset mode. Couple these with the cutesy looks and rock bottom price, and this might turn out to be one of the best value for money ratios in the touchscreen Little League cell phone universe. Will it, though?
What’s in the box
- Samsung C3300 (Champ) + stylus
- Headset with microphone
Did we mention that the Samsung Champ is tiny? The phone’s dimensions are just 3.79 x 2.12 x 0.51 inches (96.3 x 53.8 x 12.9 mm) with a weight of 2.82 oz (80 g). Talk about comfortable to hold – this thing gets lost in the palm of your hands. We slipped it in a typical wallet compartment – the wallet bent in the middle, and we slipped it in our pockets with almost no sensation that the phone is there.
The Samsung Champ is tiny
You can compare the Samsung Champ with many other phones using our Size Visualization Tool.
The Samsung Champ exhibits rounded corners, and a curvy back panel with the typical for all Samsung handsets lately “hump” at the bottom. We had an all black review unit, but “espresso brown, sweet pink and chic white” are options, too. The back hosts a 1.3MP (yes, you read that right) fixed-focus camera, and a stylus compartment, both in the upper left corner.
The front of the Champ is mostly occupied by the smallish 2.4” resistive touchscreen with the QVGA 240×320 pixels of resolution. Visibility under direct sunlight is not very good, mainly on account of the screen size rather than the brightness and contrast, which are about average for the display type. Underneath it are three physical buttons in a row – the send and end key plus a back button in the middle. The most interesting elements in the front, though, are two speakers – above and below the screen, which are supposed to ensure stereo sound. Don’t expect marvels from them in terms of both volume and quality, but the experience is indeed stereo.
The top of the Samsung Champ houses the microUSB slot and the standard audio jack, the lock/power button is on the right side, and the volume rocker is on the left. What is a tiny resistive touchscreen without a stylus worth? Not much, Samsung concluded, and added a short plastic one. As the phone is destined for developing markets across Europe, Asia, Latin America, Africa and the Middle East, the included stylus helps to send text messages in hieroglyph handwriting, a feature that the Champ supports out of the box and is very popular across Asia, especially among Chinese users. Overall, the design and build quality of the munchkin leave a very positive impression.
The sides of Samsung Champ
Interface and functionality:
The TouchWiz interface is in a “lite” version on the Samsung Champ. There are up to seven homescreens which can be populated with widgets, while the dock at the bottom is having only three shortcuts – Keypad, Contacts and Menu. The homescreens are somewhat restricted in having just one widget on them due to the smallish 2.4” display.
The widgets cover the basics – there are Analog and Digital clocks, Calendar, My buddies (up to four favorite contacts), Widget memo (a note taking app), Shortcut 1 and 2 (with four app shortcuts on each), Wallpaper and a sound Profile widget. The Shortcut widgets offer quick access to every app on the handset, including shortcuts to Facebook, Twitter, Friendster and MySpace’s mobile sites, as well as to popular multimedia sharing sites like Picasa.
Samsung Champ has up to seven homescreens
The main menu has three pages by default with a 3×3 icon grid on each. Most of the usual TouchWiz applications can be found here, you can have a look at the screenshots below. There is a notable absence of any type of YouTube client, or even a shortcut to the mobile site like there is to the social networks in Samsung’s Communities app. There are a few Java-based games, but they are all trial versions, and the phone can access Samsung Apps to download more applications or games. Throughout the interface the Samsung Champ behaved responsively, and we needn’t press too hard on the resistive screen to register a touch.
There is no smartdial in the Keypad application to show you possible contacts as you type in the number, but the phonebook offers a search function, and can separate your contact details in groups and favorites.
The email functionality on the Samsung Champ is part of the Messages application, along with texting and MMS. Google, Windows Live! and Hotmail accounts have their settings prepopulated so you can just enter your user name and password, and should be good to go. Text messaging is available in threaded view from the Conversations option.
The stylus is provided not only because the screen is resistive, but rather because Samsung is hoping to sell a lot of the cheap touchscreen handsets in Asia. Touchscreen users there are accustomed to writing their characters when sending a text message instead of typing them, for example, for reasons you can probably guess yourselves. Typing on the tiny phone is done via the on-screen portrait numpad, and is as quick as you can expect given that fact. There is no accelerometer, not even a button to turn the keyboard in landscape, as that wouldn’t make much difference on the small screen anyway.
Samsung Champ has a stylus
Internet and Connectivity:
Samsung Champ doesn’t have a 3G baseband, you will be limited to EDGE speeds for everything as the handset has no Wi-Fi capabilities either. The phone is lacking a GPS chip as well, however Bluetooth 2.1, and an FM radio are still on board.
Camera and Multimedia:
The camera interface is typical Samsung of the latest TouchWiz variety, just the shooting modes are scaled down to the capabilities of the 1.3MP sensor – Single, Continuous and the fun Frame and Mosaic. There is no need to touch-focus as the camera doesn’t support autofocus, just press the on-screen shutter and take the picture, or start shooting video. It takes about 2-3 seconds to capture and save the image, which is fairly normal.
The 1.3MP pictures are unfocused and lacking detail, but the colors are fine and the overall impression isn’t negative, considering the sensor size. Video capture is in QCIF (176×144 pixels) resolution at 15fps, and the resulting video is with washed out colors and watchable only in a post stamp size on your computer screen.
Sample images taken with Samsung Champ
There is no dedicated gallery for pictures or videos. They can be called from the Quickview icon in the camera interface, or from the “My Files” app, and in both places the multimedia files are separated in categories. Quickview shows the pictures one after the other, with double-tap switching to the next one, while in My Files pictures or videos are arranged in a list view. You can attach them to email, send them with MMS or Bluetooth, and that’s about it. There is an image editing app in the menu, which allows for quick basic actions to be performed on the photo like cropping, auto adjust colors, or rotating.
When the music player is paused or playing in the background, it appears as a widget on the homescreen, full with album art and music controls.
The dedicated widget is probably a tribute to the phone’s music functionalities, as it has dual speakers in the front, and sports Samsung’s Sound Alive technology that brings 3D sound effects in headset mode, kind of a mock surround sound. The supplied headset’s quality is good, especially when the Bass mode of the equalizer presets is on. The effective output from the speakers is with decent volume, but the base sounds are tinny.
It doesn’t differ from the latest TouchWiz-ed phones from Samsung and allows for creation of playlists and filters tracks by albums, artist or genre. There are even several equalizer presets, so the player is a well-rounded offering.
A feature that cements the Champ’s added value as an affordable touchscreen music player is that the FM antenna is built-in, and you don’t need to dangle the headset from the standard 3.5mm audio jack to tune in to your favorite station, neat.
Video can theoretically be played up to the screen’s QVGA resolution, but we had trouble running a lot of the test files from the memory card. The MPEG-4 ones played in the lowest resolutions, but the player is very basic, and the video was a bit choppy.
The Samsung Champ’s ear speaker is of average volume, but we were hearing the caller’s voice clearly without static, and on the other end of the line we were being heard fine. The default 1000mAh Li-Ion battery is rated for the outstanding 12 hours of talk time and four weeks of standby – that’s the beauty of having a feature phone with a small screen.
Samsung’s smallest touchscreen phone to date is mighty likable as it is, with its miniature dimensions, emphasis on music, and rock bottom price. We had issues with having to insert settings manually to connect to the Internet, and the video playback is very picky, but we can swallow the resistive screen with Samsung’s explanation that it is needed for Chinese handwriting with the supplied stylus. Besides, the display type has been reflected very favorably in the price. On top of that the battery goes and goes for 12 hours of talk time, so the glitches above are not a dealbreaker since you won’t be spending much time browsing or watching videos on a 2.4” screen anyway.
The Samsung Champ does very well what you will mostly be using it for – calling, light text messaging and listening to music on your commute. It is being sold for around 120 EUR in Europe, and we saw it for $119 unlocked in the US, so it is hard to beat that price outside of a contract, even if you just use it as a backup phone.
The other handsets of the touchscreen cell phone Little League you might consider if you like the Champ, are the slightly bigger Samsung Corby 3G, or the yet unreleased LG Cookie Lite – a feature phone with the same screen size and specs. Another upcoming handset with the same size touchscreen is the Nokia X3 Touch and Type, which adds a physical keypad to the mix. If you are willing to splurge more on a smart munchkin with a capacitive display, take a look at the designer award-winning Xperia X10 mini.
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