One of the phone’s best features is its 3.5inch screen. It’s an OLED display so indoors it looks fantastically bright and while it’s not quite as impressive when you’re outside on sunnier days (a problem that affects all OLED displays), it still does a pretty good job under these conditions. The screen also looks pin sharp thanks to its excellent 480 x 800 pixel resolution and colours are incredibly vibrant. But although the display uses capacitive technology, like the iPhone and HTC Hero, it’s not quite as quick to respond to finger input as those two devices.
Of course, the main selling point of this handset is the new 360 interface. To use the phone’s 360 capabilities you first have to sign up for a Vodafone 360 account which you can do directly from the phone. Once you’ve set up your 360 account you can then add account details for other services such as Hotmail, Gmail, and Facebook and the phone will siphon contacts from those services into the 360 contacts book. The default display for the contacts book is a sort of 3D barrel effect with seven floating contacts shown per page. When you select a contact it’s rotated and zoomed to fill the central part of the screen with touch buttons across the top allowing you to quickly place a call or send a text or email. If you’ve added Facebook details for contacts, status updates will also be shown next to the contact in the main 360 view.
Despite using the latest version of the handset’s firmware we had some issues getting the phone to properly import contacts and Facebook updates only worked sporadically. The phone also had problems syncing with our email accounts, often getting stuck when updating our inbox. A quick scan of the Vodafone support forums showed that we were hardly alone in this regard as there were plenty of less than satisfied users on there requesting firmware updates to fix a number of these types of issues with the handset. The lack of support for Twitter is also a bit baffling on a handset that aims to be king among the social networking crowd. The fact that some
360 features, such as location nudge, are not available for contacts unless they’re also signed up to the 360 service.
If Vodafone and Samsung can fix these issues then the handset does have plenty of potential as many of its other features show. For example, its multimedia capabilities are pretty good. There’s a healthy 16GB of memory for storing your music, photos and videos. Both Divx and Xvid file formats are supported and well encoded videos look great on the bright and crisp screen. The GPS chip is fast to get a lock on your position and general connectivity is good with Wi-Fi, HSDPA and Bluetooth 2.0 all supported. We had no real issues with call quality either during our test period and the phone’s battery life isn’t too bad. We got around two days from it making medium to moderate usage of key features like web browsing, emailing and using the GPS function.
We like the fact that Vodafone is trying to do something different with the H1 and there are elements of the 360 interface that are very appealing. The handset’s hardware is also impressive, especially the bright and crisp OLED screen. However, despite a number of updates from Samsung and Vodafone, the phone’s software is still a tad too flaky for our liking. If the software continues to improve the phone may be worth checking out in the future, but at present this handset just fails to deliver on its not inconsiderable promise.