Who remembers my review of the Samsung Soul? We published it back in June, and I was quite impressed with various aspects of the phone, including its build and front touch panel, which offers a set of controls that vary depending on what bit of the phone you are using at the time (camera, music player, etc).
Well, now we have the Steel, a handset exclusive to Vodafone in the UK. It bears more than a passing resemblance to the Soul. Both are sliders, and their general look is very similar with silver and black as the colour scheme, and a very samey front panel design.
The casing's steel parts include the battery cover, which forms three quarters of the backplate (more than the half-backplate of the Soul), and the phone feels pretty tough. Overall, though, there isn't quite as much steel here as in the Soul, and this probably accounts for the slight weight difference - 109g as opposed to the Soul's 113g.
The sliding mechanism is just as impressive with the Steel as it was with the Soul. A gentle push is all that you need to get it going, and thereafter it follows its own spring-loaded design to become fully extended or fully closed.
If you've large hands the slide should be a joy to use, but in my smaller mitts I found that closing the phone meant applying pressure to the keypad or D-pad beneath the screen thereby hitting something I didn't want to. The alternative is to use both hands to shut the thing, which isn't that convenient when you are standing on a swinging, bumping swerving bus and holding on for dear life.
That comment should lead you to the fact that the Steel is a bit large. At 104.2mm tall when closed, 48.9mm wide and 14.2m thick it troubled the smaller pockets in my clothing. Opened, it stretches to about 145mm tall.
The good news about the overall size of this phone is that there is plenty of room for both screen and keyboard. The screen measures 2.2 inches diagonally and indoors it is clear and readable. Outdoors in bright light, I found the screen really difficult to read, though.