There are other irritating quirks and shortcomings too. To sync the phone using the bundled Samsung PC Studio software, inexplicably you have to have the phone on its home screen or it won’t connect, and that’s aside from the fact that the software isn’t as elegant as either ActiveSync or iTunes (though it will allow you to sync with Outlook and Outlook Express). The USB interface also makes it impractical to transfer music regularly in any kind of quantity to and from the F700V. The sound quality is solid and the music player on the phone is good, supporting a wide variety of formats (MP3, AAC, AAC+ and WMA), but it takes an astonishing 1min 40sec to transfer a simple 5.6MB MP3 file, and at that kind of speed it’s going to get frustrating, fast.
Despite this appallingly sluggish performance, the microSD slot is hidden underneath the backplate, which makes the only practical way of transferring music just as annoying in its own right, and there’s no Wi-Fi either, so that route’s ruled out too. The music download options are reasonably well thought-out. You can either use the bundled MusicStation software to do this (unlimited downloads for £1.99 per week) or the Vodafone Music service (£5 per month for seven tracks) to download tracks and it all works pretty well. But there’s virtually no space on the device to store music anyway – just 100MB is tiny compared to the 8GB iPhone.
The cost of owning the phone, at least while it’s exclusive to Vodafone, is also a disappointment. The phone is free on £30 per month contracts and above – which is nice – but you have to pay £7.50 per month extra for Internet access and this gets you a measly 120MB per month. It’s still £224 cheaper over 18 months than the iPhone, but the lack of an unlimited data deal leaves a sour taste in the mouth.
It’s a shame about the irritations, because Samsung has a phone here with massive potential. Its keyboard is superb, it has HSDPA where the iPhone is limited to GPRS, its touch-screen works well most of the time, and the vibration feedback is a thing of genius.
There’s no doubt that the F700V is a very, very good phone, and if it were available with a more generous data tariff I’d have no hesitation in recommending it as a great value for money alternative to the iPhone. But despite all of its plus points there are just too many buts and if-onlys right now to make it a truly compelling choice.
Score in detail
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