As with the excellent D600, the tri-band GSM and 3G capable SGH-Z400 employs what is arguably Samsung’s best handset design format - the slider. As I wrote this review, Orange, O2 and Vodafone were all listing the Z400 online from free depending on the tariff.
Samsung plays a cagey game with the Z400. It is small and light (97mm tall, 48mm wide, 19mm deep and 107g), stylishly silver, and has obvious consumer appeal with its music playback and photography options. However, it also boasts the ability to view Excel, Word, PowerPoint PDF, HTML and text files courtesy of the Picsel file viewer.
At first glance this might endear the Z400 to more professional-type users. If so, beware. Yes, the Picsel viewer works, and the 320 x 240 pixels in the screen help make using it as painless as possible on the 30 x 40 mm display. But you are never going to want to spend long scrolling around reading PDFs and other documents on a handset with a screen this size. The processor needs thinking time every time you scroll around making the experience just too painful. If this is a regular requirement for you then a connected Windows Mobile Pocket PC is a far better choice.
The Z400’s silver casing is rather alluring, though it is mostly made of plastic, and the back of my review model was already showing some telltale scratches when I took it out of its box. The slider mechanism is as good as you’d expect from Samsung. It is spring loaded, and thanks to a small ridge just under the screen it is as easy to close the handset as it is to open it up.
The handset extends to approximately 130mm when opened giving a generous amount of room for the number pad. As with all good sliders, though, you can do most things without bothering to reveal the number pad at all.
On the right edge are two buttons. One is an application switcher. It is not as sophisticated as it sounds. Tap it and you can choose to open the call dial screen, access messages or run the Web browser. It is a shame you can’t configure this button to launch other apps.
The other right edge button doubles up to let you access the main camera and start video calls via the VGA camera on the front of the handset. To make a video call you dial the number or get it up from your stored contacts, then hit the side button.
This edge of the handset also houses the shared headset and proprietary mains power slot, which is protected by a clever sliding cover. On the left edge a single rocker provides for volume control, and there is a covered slot for a microSD card with which you can augment the 30MB of built in storage.
The front buttons are large and easy to hit, with the soft menu keys in particular earning plus points for their size. As already mentioned, you don’t need to reveal the keyboard very often. Tap the centre of the navigation key and the handset main menu pops up ready for you to mooch around it.