The Corby may not be the sharpest looking tool in the shed, but don't forget its low price tag. For your AU$180 you get a solidly built plastic handset with a 2.8-inch capacitive touchscreen. The screen has a QVGA resolution, meaning it will look a little duller to those who are used to the higher-res screens found on the Samsung Icon family of phones, but it doesn't mean it's any less responsive. The Corby delivers a very usable system all round, with thanks to the screen and adequate processing power.
Samsung seems so confident of this little touchscreen that it's kept the rest of its mechanical input to a minimum, with only calling keys and a single-purpose "back" button available under the display. While we love the minimalism we do dislike the absence of a 3.5mm headphone socket; the Corby instead uses a dual-purpose proprietary input that is shared for charging the phone. We know Samsung would want to keep the Corby as cheap as possible, but surely a 3.5mm socket wouldn't blow the budget on this one.
Running on Samsung's proprietary platform, the Corby has a surprisingly deep suite of apps to mess around with. Sifting through the menus we discovered Facebook, MySpace and Twitter apps, a dictionary, stopwatch, calendar, FM radio and voice recorder. There are also 10 Java games pre-installed, although only trial versions; the full games require an authentication code to play.
Corby lacks 3G data speeds, supporting only the four GSM network frequencies (850/900/1800/1900MHz). Ordinarily we wouldn't be too phased by this in a sub-AU$200 handset, but when we started to use this phone's excellent web browser we felt the absence keenly. The browser is a Webkit-based Dolfin browser (Webkit is the technology behind the iPhone's Safari browser) and it's far better than we expect in a handset in this price range. The zooming function is smooth and easy to access, landscape mode is activated with a simple key press, and, most importantly, the web pages we tested rendered nicely. Scrolling over long pages may lag a little, but cheap phones tend to require a little patience.
The Corby's camera is what you'd expect from a budget handset. This 2-megapixel shooter takes average photos, and surprised us by not having a shutter sound effect when we took a shot (isn't that illegal in this country?). Better than the camera itself is the built-in photo editing software which lets you take a photo and add some simple corrections and filters. This is by no means Adobe Photoshop, but it is easy to use and the effects will improve some pics quite a lot.
We've been quite impressed by the Corby during our tests. Samsung's TouchWiz interface runs smoothly as does the phone's main menu and applications. We think this is the right approach from Samsung; just because a phone is cheap doesn't mean it should run painfully slowly. Its battery charge cycles were between two and three days, which isn't spectacular for a 2G phone, but should be sufficient for most users.
When you consider the handset's features versus its minuscule AU$179 price tag, the S3650 is stunningly good value. It covers off basic phone functions well and expands on these with an excellent range of useful tools and a decent web browser. There are also plenty of options for adding more games and apps to this phone for an extra cost, thanks to Australia's exclusive seller Boost Mobile, so parents might want to keep an eye on tweens and their itchy app-purchasing digits.