The front buttons are well sized. Beneath the screen, the softmenu keys and Call and End keys are all big enough to find with a thumb without any hassle at all. The D-pad, too, is sizeable at 21mm wide and 19mm tall.
Open the slide and the number pad is well thought out. Its keys are flat and lie on perfectly straight horizontal lines, despite the curved separator bars between them giving the impression that they don’t. Above the 1, 2, 3 row is a shortcut to your music, the delete key and an application switcher.
Press the latter and up pops the QuickSwitch menu. Rather than letting you flick between opened apps this seems to concentrate on Vodafone Live!, messaging and the call screen, so it isn’t as powerful as you might at first think.
When you are on the main screen, the right softkey is hardwired to a toolbar that offers shortcuts and this gives you quick access to Internet services, missed calls info, messaging, profile switching, calendar events and a range of shortcuts that you can personalise. If you want to delve deeper, the main menu is on the left softkey.
In terms of comms capability, this is a tri-band GSM handset with HSDPA for fast Web surfing and a front-facing camera for two-way video calling.
The main camera’s lens is protected behind the slide when not in use, which should mean it remains scratch free for as long as possible. The location is mirrored in the Samsung Soul, but while the Soul’s camera shoots at 5-megapixels and has a self-portrait mirror and flash, the Steel comes in at 3-megapixels and drops the flash. Not surprisingly, then, the camera is closer to average than it is to outstanding, though its autofocus does help it out.
The coloured dish lacks vibrancy and seems dark. The camera was left on its auto settings throughout my tests, and indoors it didn’t manage to let enough light in all the time. Outdoors it struggled with wide variations in light too. The white chair was in partial shade when photographed and illustrates the problem well.
On the other hand, colour capture and close range work were impressive. The flower really is that colour and I took this photo quite close in. There is no macro mode, but unless you want to go mere centimetres from the subject, I think it’ll cope OK.