Review Price £99.99
Samsung Solid Immerse - Interface, Apps and Online Features
The Samsung Solid Immerse is not a smartphone, but in today's connected world no phone can apparently be considered complete unless it offers full social networking integration. Facebook and Twitter apps make a lot of sense in this phone though, because it has 3G mobile internet built-in.
The two key social networks have their own separate apps, each giving you a basic portal into the latest online goings-on. They are very basic, but do the job. The Facebook one offers News, your Profile Photos and Friends tabs, while the Twitter applet has a standard stream, @ replies and messages tabs. Your friends' status updates and tweets are necessarily only relayed in part in the stream view - with a 240x320 pixel display there just aren't enough pixels to go around - but you can click on each for a full-screen view.
There's also a simple email app, which takes the same approach. However, we were bemused by the slow speed of it all. Even with 3G to hand, refreshing feeds and downloading emails seemed to take much longer than it should. It acts as a reminder that while the Solid Immerse can do several of the key things we rely on our smartphones for - this ain't a smartphone.
Browsing is similarly sluggish. The browser software relies on cut-down WAP sites rather than full websites, so surfing the net feels consistently, seriously compromised. For looking up the odd fact every now and then, though, it's fine.
Setting up any connected apps is a bit of a nightmare. For each, you need to specify the connection it should use. Forget to do so and the phone will just fling out error messages, complaining that it can't get a signal, like a baby crying out for food.
On top of 3G mobile internet, the Solid Immerse offers GPS. Within the phone's Settings menu, you can use this to obtain your longitude, latitude and elevation (handy for hikers), and Google Maps comes pre-installed. Rather unhelpfully, it's stashed away in the "Games and more" section.
This is the Java version of Google Maps, and it's not a patch on the touch-operated smartphone edition. However, it works and will show you a map of your location, give you directions and display the satellite view. Once you go off-road, its usefulness will ebb away, as it doesn't have full ordinance survey maps, just Google's ones.
Other handy features for outdoors types include the pedometer and compass. The standard feature phone fare is included too, such as an FM radio, media player, Palringo chat app, voice recorder, calendar and alarm. A decent selection of games comes preinstalled, although most of them are trial versions.
Within the main menu sits a link to Samsung's online apps portal, from which you can download stacks more games and ringtones, but remember these are just java titles. If you want flashy 3D graphics, you won't find them here.
The basic interface layout is simple and clear. There's a single home screen - which you can't really customise, but there are four set layouts to choose from. You can either have a row of handy links here, or one of three kinds of clock and date layouts.
Behind this home screen is the main menu, which is laid-out as a 3x4 grid of icons - the same layout used in feature phones for what seems like aeons. Any additional software downloaded automatically makes its way to the Apps submenu, so this main menu never changes.
Here are the four home screen options
When you first boot up the phone, the Solid Immerse gives you three themes to choose from, although they're all simple colour variations rather than anything more invasive. This phone's interface is unambitious and fairly dated, but it's easy to use and doesn't look too bad thanks to some tasteful backgrounds.
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