Every company has a different opinion on how a fashion phone should look. Samsung, for one, seems to think that it has to be a big slider phone with a lot of metallic elements and a touchpad, as well as rich functions.
We are used to the fact that usually the sliders from Samsung are meant for women. It’s a different case with the Samsung Soul U900, however: it has a solid, serious look, not to mention the impressive size (although dimensions are not that much of an argument, now that you see females with big phones like N95 all the time).
The phone should be popular among both sexes, granted women won’t mind the business-like design and guys will put up with the unique control element. The possible problems lie not in the fact that a touch panel is used here – you won’t surprise anyone with these nowadays – but in its implementation. We’ll try to find out how well the control elements are realized in the Samsung U900 Soul in this review, among other things.
Samsung Soul U900 Design
While the phone looks unusual enough to stand out from other models of the company, it is still very much Samsung-like. There are a lot of metallic elements in the Samsung U900, as expected from a fashion phone. The weight and size are well-balanced: the phone doesn’t feel like a toy, and at the same time is not too heavy. Samsung Soul display takes up the most of the face panel; it is finger mark-prone, and the fact that you need to touch it when closing the slider makes the situation even worse. The little touchscreen which serves the function of navigation buttons suffers from the same problem.
The display takes up the most of the face panel:
The camera and flash are hidden behind the back panel when the Samsung Soul is closed:
There is a slot for a microSD memory card in the right side of the phone:
When the slider is open, the overall look is slightly spoiled by a large hollow beneath the camera, and the opening mechanism protruding from it:
Samsung SGH-U900 Soul comes in two versions: metallic silver and black. Note that black only applies to the plastic parts; all the metallic elements will retain their color.
Samsung U900 Soul Display
The image quality and viewing angle of the display in Samsung Soul are both excellent thanks to the quality matrix installed – as expected from a Samsung phone, really. The reflective coating, however, brings its own problems – the screen is almost unreadable in bright sunlight, especially if you are using a dark theme.
Samsung Soul SGH-U900 ergonomics and controls
We’ll start with the Samsung Soul keypad, leaving the most interesting part for later. It is a solid plastic plate, with engraved labels and metallic insets separating the rows of keys. These help a lot in finding the correct buttons without looking, but I still wouldn’t call the keyboard completely comfortable.
Reaching the bottom row of the keys might be difficult due to the construction of the device – the phone leans forward:
As for the navigation block, it takes some time to get used to. The unexpected (but not bad, by all means!) design decision was to use mechanical navigation buttons together with a touch panel. Normally you would expect touch-sensitive buttons to come with it (like it is with E900, E950 and LG products), but there you go.
Samsung Soul touch panel itself works surprisingly well; it has an adjustable vibration force feedback and takes only half an hour or so to get used to. We didn’t experience any problems whatsoever with it – what’s more, different modes of operation help a lot, especially when using the camera.
Samsung Soul Features
The Samsung Soul U900 is feature-packed, with the biggest emphasis on multimedia. It has a pretty good music player which gives you more than acceptable functionality and sound, an FM radio receiver, and a 5 Mpx built-in camera with autofocus. You can make okay-looking photos with it (provided the weather is good) and share them right away or post them to your blog by using the integrated ShoZu client. It’s also possible to edit photos and videos on the phone, and it actually comes in handy sometimes – for simple tasks like cropping, anyway. You can see some screenshots of the camera software and the music player below:
Using the Samsung U900 Soul
We encountered only one real problem when using the phone, and that’s the display and the touch sensor being extremely finger mark-prone. Since it is a widespread problem among all modern phones, however, we can’t even give the Samsung Soul U900 lower marks because of it.
All the other aspects are in order: the ringtone is loud enough, and the battery life is as expected. Fully charged, the phone will hold for around two days with average usage.
The Samsung SGH-U900 Soul is an interesting product, and without a doubt, the flagship of Samsung phones in 2008 (smartphones aside). This model is largely targeted towards male audience because of its size, but it’s not impossible to imagine it fitting in a women’s purse either. Personally, I think that the phone lacks a sale point, some kind of a “wow-factor”. Knowing the aggressive marketing policies of Samsung, however, Soul will undoubtedly sell well.
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