There's been something of a price revolution among rugged phones over the past couple of years. Once, the privilege of having a tough, waterproof phone would cost you hundreds of pounds - but now devices like the Samsung Solid Immerse B7210 give you this sort of all-weather versatility for under a hundred quid.
Rugged phones are changing, becoming mainstream. Devices like the Motorola Defy and upcoming Samsung Galaxy Xcover are starting to make IP67-certified phones seem attractive for normal people, not just builders and polar explorers. The Samsung Solid Immerse isn't quite one of these style trailblazers, using a traditional candybar T9-keypad form factor, but it is cheap enough to be worth considering if you're too clumsy to be left alone with a large-screen smartphone.
The Immerse is the more advanced cousin of the Samsung Solid Extreme. It adds 3G connectivity, boosting the price up from £60 to around £100 on a pre-pay deal. Sounds like quite a lot for a feature phone, doesn't it?
It arguably earns the right to its price tag because it's IP67-certified, guaranteeing a high level of water and dust-proofing. The Solid Immerse is completely dust-proof and can stand immersion in water to a depth of 1m for up to half an hour. Hence the "Immerse" of its name. Geddit?
It achieves this level of water resistance using rubber seals around any sockets or openings. The battery cover and the flap covering the microUSB both use these seals. Get the Solid Immerse near water without these seals in place and those bold IP67 claims fly out the window.
Always keen to see if we can break a review product blame-free, we naturally dunked the phone in a few watery environments to see if it could cope. It did. We found that the speaker grills tended to retain the water, but this is fixed with a quick smack on the back - like burping a baby, a bit too vigorously.
IP67 waterproofing - confirmed
Big aesthetic sacrifices have been made to give the phone its ruggedness, though. This is not a good-looking device. It's bulbous, it looks rather old-fashioned and the lettering on the numerical keypad strives for clarity, not style.
Connectivity is also very limited. A microSD slot sits under the battery cover but there's no 3.5mm headphone jack, just a microUSB socket that takes on the holy trinity of mobile duties - charging, data transfer and audio output.
There are a few neat design tweaks chucked-in to mitigate. A bright LED torch sits on top of the handset, operated with a prolonged press of a button on the right edge (to avoid accidental use), and a sturdy plastic loop to let you attach the phone to climbing gear - or whatever outdoorsy attire your chosen pursuit might involve.
As we'll say several times in this review - if you inhabit the niche which the Solid Immerse is targeted at, all is good. If not, there's no way you could consider its design a good thing.