This time around Samsung has managed to fit three buttons across, so texting is no problem. A ridge separates the number buttons from two rows of three which contain Call and End buttons, delete key, camera key and two softmenu keys.
The thing about this arrangement is that while you can control music using the navigation button with the phone closed you can’t do anything else. Taking calls, for example, requires you to open the handset, as does using the camera. This could become a pain, and you can forget the idea of capturing quick candid photos which you can often get with phones sporting side-mounted camera control buttons.
The navi pad itself can be pressed, while a thin outer ring can be rotated. You’ll need a fingernail to get purchase on the ring for rotating, and it can be a bit fiddly, so it is good that either system can be used for moving through on-screen menus.
The screen is problematic, but I’ll start with its strong points. Its 128 x 220 pixels might sound very low-res by modern standards, but it is small. I measured it at 19mm wide and 33mm tall. So the pixels are squeezed. Coupled with the 262 thousand colours on offer, the screen quality is good.
It is the size that is a problem. Music playback visuals are fine. The screen delivers information in landscape (wide) mode, and you can see album art, the name of the currently playing track, track length and play time elapsed. Pause and back/forward icons are also displayed, and pressing the central select button on the navi pad activates pause or play.
Open the phone up and the main screen is also well constructed and easy to view. Missed call information, incoming texts, that kind of thing, are all displayed fine. But beyond that things can get difficult.
In many cases menu options are only partially visible across the width of the screen, and you have to wait for them to scroll across ticker-tape style if you want to read all of what they offer.
As for Web browsing, well the phone can do it, but the screen lets things down badly. There is neither the width nor the height to make it effective. If you think you’ll need any kind of browsing at all, I’d suggest you look for a different phone.
The small screen also caused problems when framing photos. There are three viewfinder settings, and if you want to use ‘standard ratio’ which shows the image as it will appear in a photo, it is very small indeed on screen.
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