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Well, following my last mobile phone review dated just October 31st 2003, I titled that “Sarah_Louise goes back to Nokia”. You see I started off my mobile phone life with Nokia (a 5110, aka a "brick" by todays standards!), I then switched to a Sagem MYX5, then back to the Nokia 7250i. And now, as you may have guessed from the title of this review, I've dropped Nokia again in favour of another brand.
For those who've read my Nokia 7250i review, you will know that I was perfectly happy with my new purchase. The main reasons I chose that phone were that it had a camera which my old phone didn't have and it also had an FM radio function.
I thought I would extensively use the latter feature but after messing around with it for the first day or so after getting my phone, I've not used this function since!
I then went to see Lostprophets live at the Manchester Apollo shortly after getting this phone. Now granted, I know concerts aren't exactly the best places to use camera phones but the pictures were of DIRE quality. My sisters camera phone was VERY much better than mine. So it got me thinking....
If I had no use for the radio and I'd only bought this phone for the camera function then what was I doing with a phone with a rubbish quality camera?
Needless to say, Google soon became my best friend in my search for (yet another!) new phone.
This time it was a harder decision because I didn't have such stricter needs per se(!) For example, when searching for the Nokia 7250i I knew I wanted a camera and an FM radio function (of which the latter is still quite rare so this narrowed my choices down considerably). However, as most new phones have cameras these days, the choice for my latest new phone was somewhat unlimited!
I narrowed my choice down (largely due to finances) to about 5 or 6 phones. All of which had a higher quality camera. Some were bluetooth, others weren't. Some had video cameras, others didn't. But the one thing they all had in common (apart from the higher quality camera) was that they were all flipphones. I've never had one of these before so I thought it was about time I had a change! Plus I was getting sick of all my phone screens getting scratched so I thought this type of phone may help.
After much Googling I finally opted for the Samsung E300. (I was initially thinking of getting the Samsung E710 but finances are short so I've put that on hold for the timebeing!)
The Samsung E300's that I was coming across in my websearches were going for anywhere between £100 and £140. Of which I'd set my limit to about £100. I was all set to try winning one on eBay until I noticed Argos had a special offer on (January sales). The E300 was up for £75!! Bargain!! I just HAD to buy it!
I checked stock levels in my two nearest stores. Neither had any in stock. My next nearest branch (Rhyl) had one in so I reserved it there and then as I knew it would get snapped up quickly!
So, the day after, off I trundled to Rhyl to collect my new phone. After spending 40 minutes in the queue before I finally had to send the shop assistant up to the store room to get it for me himself, I was finally the proud owner of my new Samsung E300.
Anyway, thats enough about me! :o)
= = = Why choose a Samsung E300? = = =
Well as previously mentioned, I was on a budget to buy a phone for £100 as my absolute maximum. I wasn't fussed about the really snazzy features such as Bluetooth which I'm sure will be all the rage in a matter of months (I can't see me having a use for it, certainly not in the forseeable future). I also wasn't bothered about an FM radio as I only used my other one the first few days after getting my phone.
Another specification I did want with this new phone was that it had to be a flipphone. As previously mentioned, I've never owned a flipphone before so I thought it was about time I branched into this realm. I was also getting sick and tired of my phone screens getting scratched within a matter of days of getting them.
So, basically, I wanted a light (flip) phone, good looking, some decent polyphonic ring tone selection, a game or two for extra boring train journeys up and down the country, a higher quality camera (and obviously colour screen) than the 7250i and i also wanted a dual-screen phone (i.e. one with a smaller screen on the outside of the clamshell in addition to the main screen inside). All for £100 or less.
Now as these phones were originally retailing for over £200 I came to the conclusion that if I could get one for the £75 that Argos had them on offer at I'd be getting a real bargain. Who can resist a bargain?! I know I can't!
= = = What’s the Samsung E300 got to offer then? = = =
Well of course, being originally worth around about £200, these phones do have quite a lot to offer. For those in a hurry, firstly I’ll just list them, I’ll then go into a little more detail for those of you who are actually interested in buying this phone.
~ Features and Specifications - brief run down ~
> Internal Screen - 65k colours, TFT LCD, 128 x 160 pixels > External Screen - 65 colours, TFT LCD, 96 x 64 pixels > 3hrs Talk time > 150hrs Standby > Memory - 4096 KB for photos - 2048 KB for videoclips - 1400 KB for MMS - 716 KB for ringtones - 512 KB for java - 100 KB for voicememo (5 x 30 sec.) - 2000 phonebook > Games – 4 + downloadable Java™ games > Messaging - MMS, EMS, SMS > Predictive Text - T9 > Browser - WAP 2.0 > GPRS enabled > Java - MIDP 2.0 > Infrared > 64 bit Polyphonic Ringtones > Downloadable Ringtones > VGA Digital Camera > 640 x 480 pixels Resolution > Voice Recorder
1 - Messages Within this menu, you can create a message using the original text typing or use the text predictor (T9 dictionary). I personally have never ‘got on’ with any kind of predictive text system and have always found it much quicker to just type out the message with this function turned off. However, for the first time in my mobile phone using history, I decided I'd give it the benefit of the doubt with this phone. I must admit, it took a little getting used to but I can now see the advantage of using it. I still generally turn the function off though as I still find its generally quicker to type the messages out in the old fashioned way. One disadvantage to this phone when compared with the 7250i is that (so far as I can gather) there is no way to get the phone to remember my preferences in this capacity. I.e. the 7250i remembered that I didn't like using the T9 predictive text system and so it didn't turn it on as default everytime I wrote a message. The E300 however, doesn't do this. Having said this, it is easy to turn the T9 function off - just one click of a button.
With the E300, you can send texts as emails too should you desire. I can’t comment on how good this is as I’ve never done it. I’ll have to try it sometime and let you know!
The phone is enabled for SMS (your average text messages to you and me), EMS (messages with simple images and sounds attached to them) and MMS (multimedia messaging service - i.e. photographs and video clips). Obviously you can only send photographs to other people with MMS enabled phones.
Obviously the other menus within the Messages
Pictures of Samsung E300 Mobile Phone
Photos taken at various angles around my fish tank showing the different photo effects that you can apply
menu is that of Inbox, Templates (you can save unsent messages in here) and you also have the usual Outbox where you can save messages ready for sending at a later time. Unfortunately, the phone doesn't have a Sent folder where messages are automatically shown once they've been sent. Sometimes it can be handy to check what you sent to someone but alas the E300 doesn't have this facility. But, we can't have everything, can we?
2 - Call Records As with practically every mobile phone on the market, this menu is all pretty standard with the usual missed calls, received calls and dialled calls. It also records the length of each call and the overall length of time spent on the phone from all of the above (i.e. numbers you've dialled and calls you've received). If you’re on PAYG, you can also have it show you how much the cost of your last call cost too. One useful feature on the E300 that I've not had before is that you can save numbers directly from here into your phonebook. So, if you get a call from someone unexpectedly and you didn't already know their number, gone are the days when you try to remember their number off the top of your head or, if you're feeling particularly adventurous, you also wouldn't have to go and find a pen and paper to make a note of it to transfer it into your phone book manually. (Come on, you've all done it, you sit there and think "right, I'll remember this number....." only for you to forget at least the last 8 digits by the time you've navigated your way to the phone book menu!)
I actually used this function just the other day in fact when I got a text message from a new number that I didn't have in my phone book. It was from someone I'm sure many of you reading this may know! (Chris aka triplecthegame) He was informing me of his new number so I got to test out this "Save Number to Phonebook" option for the first time. So thanks to Chris for that! :o)
NB. for any kids out there reading this, never EVER give your phone number out to strange blokes that you might happen to bump into on the Internet ;-)
3 - Network Services Again, a fairly bog-standard menu is this one. It contains the usual functions of call diverting, call barring, call waiting, network sellection, caller ID and something called a closed user group. Now I'm sure you're all well aware of what most of those do so there is little point me going into any detail about them. However, one thing that I haven't come across before on previous mobiles is that of the latter function - closed user group.
I checked the manual to see what this did. I won't have any use for it (and I dare say most people wouldn't have) but I must admit, it does sound like a very useful function for some people. Basically it enables you to effectively lock the phone to making any phone calls outside of a specified group. So, for example, your boss might give you this phone for business use. Obviously he/she will want it using for business and not to phone your mum up to check how long you're meant to cook a chicken for. So, your boss can set a group of numbers that you'll be able to dial from the phone.
4 - Sound Settings This menu contains the ring tone, ring volume, alert type, keypad tone, message tone, folder tone, power on/off, alert on call, and extra tones sub-menus. All pretty self explantory really.
The E300 supports 64 bit polyphonic ringtones.
There are 40 ringtones set on the phone by default. You can have the ringing alert in the usual forms - i.e. silent mode, melody, vibrate or vibrate & melody together. If you're not happy with any of the ringtones pre-loaded then you can download more ringtones easily enough from the Internet should you so desire. .
I was quite surprised a total of 10 tones which you can set as the message tone. I've never had this many options for when you receive a message before! However, they do all sound fairly similar to one another if I'm being completely honest. Obviously you can also set it to beep once, vibrate or just flash the service light (more on this later).
There is the usual greeting tone on this phone as most others have these days. Personally I find this annoying when you turn your phone on and off. Especially as it is relatively loud. An annoying "jingle" first thing in the morning when I turn my phone off really is the last thing I need! It is easily turned off in this menu though.
5 - Fun Box In here you'll find all the "gimmicky" things that make a phone what it is (in my opinion!) There's the WAP browser (which I have yet to use), games (4 of), sounds, images, memory status and a delete all option.
There are 4 Java games that come with the phone as standard and as these are pre-loaded they don’t take up any extra memory. You can download extra games if you wish. The games you get as standard are: BubbleSmile, Fun2Link, MobileChess and Ultimate Golf Challenge
I could go into great detail about each game, but I won't bore you unnecessarily!
6 - Organiser In here you'll get such things as alert, calendar, time & date, calculator, currency exchange, voice memo and a to-do list.
I use the alarm function on a daily basis. So far, it has not let me down! (Ok, so none of my other phones have done either but on the very rare occasions that I accidentally turn the alarm off and sleep in to a ridiculously late hour, I've always just blamed my phones in the past and simply explained that "my alarm didn't go off!")
You can choose from 25 different "tunes" to have you wake up to though, all of which are quite loud though, I'll warn you that now. I recommend testing this out before you need to use it as an alarm to get you up in the morning. Not only so you know how to set the alarm correctly (it's all common sense anyway) but at least this way you'll have some idea how loud it is so you don't give yourself a heart attack in the morning!
One thing that did concern me slightly from reading the phones manual was that it said that to turn the alarm off once its been activated, you have to click one of the main buttons. Now as this is my first flipphone, my first thought was that of "but I'm never 'with it' enough when I get woken up abruptly at the crack of dawn, I don't want to have to faff around opening the phone up just to turn the alarm off". Thankfully I soon discovered that pressing the volume button (on the side of the phone) also turns the alarm off.
Incidentally, I have yet to find a "Snooze" function. There is no mention of this in the manual either so I'm guessing it doesn't have it. Which is odd if you ask me as even my very first phone (the brick!) had this. So surely they won't have stopped making phones with this function? I'm sure I must have just overlooked it so if anyone knows either way on this one, please leave a message in my Comments section. Thanks!
The time and date is easy to set up and in different formats (12hr or 24hr). There is also a world time function where you can see the local time in various countries. I'm sure someone will find this useful!
There is also a voice recorder to record memos up to 30 seconds long. I have not used this though so can't comment on the quality.
7 - Camera (Some examples of the photo quality can be found at the end of this review)
In this menu you'll find the such things as:
Take Photos, My Photos, Video, and Memory Status
Again, all are pretty self explanatory.
So, as the camera was the main reason why I wanted a new phone, how does it compare to the one on the 7250i?
Well, what can I say? I am genuinely VERY impressed. I honestly can say that I can't fault it so far.
The camera itself is a VGA digital camera and the resolution is 640 x 480 pixels. (Which is twice the quality of that on the 7250i).
There are a lot of things you can do with/to the photos you take with this phone too. Far more than I was expecting to be perfectly honest!
You can zoom in 4x and change the brightness. One thing that I didn't realise this phone had that I thought I would miss on the old 7250i is that of the "night mode" whereby it draws in as much light from the surroundings as possible to enable you to take photos in low-light conditions. The 7250i had this function and, at the time, I believed it to be quite a rare function. Maybe not so rare after all!
The camera does NOT have a flash though so you won't be able to take good photos in truly dark conditions. The E710 model does have a flash as part of the phone but alas the pricetag for this phone increases substantially!
Now until mid-December I was actually unaware that some phones allowed their uses to apply "special" effects to photos after they've been taken. However, whilst staying at a friends house in December, he was demonstrating his new phone to me (I've got no idea what the make/model is though!). Actually, I tell a lie. Conveniently he's just popped onto MSN messenger so I've asked him what make/model his phone is. His is the Sony Ericsson Z600. (Just for those who wish to compare the E300 to other models with similar functions). He could apply all sorts of swanky things to his photos such as turning them into negatives, black and white, sketch, emboss, etc. Anyway, I didn't really have a need for this on my new phone but was pleasantly surprised to find them there anyway! (Incidentally, I was right all along - I have yet to find a use for them, but at least they're there should a situation ever arise that I may wish to have a sketch-stylee photo for example!)
See photos at the end of this review for examples.
You can also apply a frame to the photo (most of which are rather tacky looking though to be honest, but fun I suppose!)
There are three modes - normal, multi and night shots. You can also rotate the photo easily if you wanted to. There is also a timer which will enable you to always be in the photo too so you need never hide behind the camera ever again! (Although my excuse is that its hard to find a place to prop the phone up where its not likely to topple over whilst you're across the room posing for a photo....) Its a good excuse, don't you agree? I'll let you borrow it!
The phone has 4096kb memory for storing photos which is ample in my opinion.
Once you have taken a photo you can save it, send it (via email or to another MMS enabled phone) or you can save it as wallpaper. Or alternatively, you can also assign it to a name in the phonebook so when someone calls, the photo of that person appears.
Now another thing I wasn't actually really expecting on this phone is that of the video camera. Some websites I read said it had this function, others claimed it didn't. I wasn't overly fussed either way though so I really didn't bother researching it to find out for sure. (Although I did do a lot of Googling for this and other makes/models before purchasing!) But yes, I can guarantee you that the E300 does indeed have a video camera mode. You can create a video for up to 30 seconds (with sound too!). You can only save these though and not send them to other mobiles or via email.
8 - Phone settings In here you'll find such things as Activate Infrared, Display settings, Greeting message, Own number, Language, Security, Extra settings, Short cut, Reset settings
This is where you choose how your phone works.
You can activate infrared from here, this enables you to communicate with other infrared devices and send/receive items through the infrared port. (Usually found on laptops and as I don't have a laptop (although I am looking to get one of these too), I have never used this function on the E300 or indeed any of my previous two phones so I can't comment on how good/bad it is. This option will deactivate after 30 seconds if there is no connection so its good if pressed accidentally.
Also you can personalise the phone to suit you such as changing the wallpaper of the main display (most of which are moving images so they're not too bland either), you can set a greeting message which appears when you first switch on the phone too but personally I find this annoying so I never bother with it.
Now then, one thing on this phone that I've never had on any previous phones is that of the "service light". This can be seen just under the black bit below the external display. It flashes every couple of seconds to let you know its in reception. (You can choose which colour of light you'd like too which I think is a very nifty function!) Now at first, this bugged me. Its quite bright so even out of the corner of your eye, it is quite visible. You can turn it off if you wish and I was all set to do this until I realised it served more of a purpose than just to let me know its in reception (and hence bug me in the process). I realised that when I had a text message or anything waiting for me that I maybe hadn't noticed originally, the service light flashes much more frequently and hence I know that something is waiting for me without having to keep opening the phone up to check.
So I decided I'd keep the service light function turned on. I must admit, I'm getting used to it now and even as I type this, when I concentrate on it I can see the service light flashing out of the corner of my eye but it is less 'visible' than it was when I first got the phone. So I dare say, in a short while I'll not notice it at all.
= = = Ease of Use = = =
The phone is very easy to use. As with any case of switching between different makes though, each make of phone has its own layout. Most are fairly standard, this phone is no exception. It is largely the same layout as the Nokia 7250i so it didn't take too long to adjust to it. I must say too that the manual is particularly good at explaining what each button does so no qualms here.
= = = Reception Quality = = =
I've only used my mobile to make/receive calls on a couple of occasions so far (I rarely make outgoing calls on any mobiles as its far too expensive!)
So far, from what I've heard, the reception quality is excellent. But then this is largely down to your network provider and the area you're in anyway so this isn't necessarily all that much to do with the phone itself. (Just something to bare in mind!)
An example here is that of the difference between the O2 network and the Virgin Mobile network. Now you'd think they'd all be pretty similar, wouldn't you? (Or is it just me that thinks that?) Well a few years back now when I was still a poor college student (not alot has changed really.... I'm no longer a student but I'm still poor!) :o) Anyway, back when I was in college I originally had my old faithful brick (I spent a total of 4 years at college so this is quite a while back now!) Whilst I had this phone I was on the O2 network. I couldn't get ANY reception ANYWHERE in college. In fact, not even in the college grounds unless I walked a long distance out to the far edge of the fields or indeed right up the road before I could get even a slight amount of reception. Naturally I presumed this was due to the absolutely rubbish phone I had. But I later came to realise this was solely down to the network. For all my friends on other networks had no trouble getting reception, even IN the college buildings. Yet those of us on O2 all had to endure a rather long walk before we could get a dickie-bird out of our phones. After a year or so at college I switched phones to a Sagem MYX5 mobile phone which came with Virgin Mobile on it. I've not looked back since! Anyway, that's digressing a little off the topic but I just thought I would highlight this for anyone who might be concerned at all.
= = = Battery Life = = =
So far, so good!
I must admit, I didn't charge my phone overnight (as the manual instructed me to do) when I first got it out of the box. I was too eager to have a play around with it! However, I plugged it in all set for a good 12 hours worth of charging but the next time I looked (only about an hour) it was telling me that it was fully charged. Anyway, I don't know whether this really was the case or not but a couple of hours later after faffing around with the phone for some time (testing it out, you understand!) I was quite alarmed to see the battery power had diminished a LOT. I.e. from "fully charged" to just showing one bar of battery power. Anyway, I am pleased to say though that this was just due to me faffing around with it constantly for a number of hours.
I have since had no problems with this at all.
= = = Connectability = = =
(For some reason or another, MS Word is telling me that the word “Connectability” doesn’t exist, but I assure you, it DOES exist in Sarah_Louise language!) :-)
I'd never used (or had any need to use) a datacable prior to getting the 7250i. It didn't come as standard with this E300 so I have purchased one off eBay. It cost me just £4.99 with an additional £2.50 or so for P&P (from Hong Kong) so it wasn't too bad at all. It also arrived within 6 days (estimated time 5-10 days) and the aftersales support has been excellent (more on this in a moment).
Right, well as the 7250i datacable was the first one I'd ever used before I was relieved to find it was all common sense and easy enough to use. I was hoping it would be the same for the Samsung. I was wrong!
I won't go into huge amounts of detail as it'll only bore you all but to cut a long story short, I was having real difficulty getting the software to recognise that my phone was plugged in. The software itself had installed correctly, as had the hardware. It just seemed like the two couldn't communicate. Thankfully the chap who sold it to me has been a great help and showed me that I'd just done something wrong (quite obviously too when I came to look!) I'm pleased to say it is now working perfectly. (If anyone is having problems themselves, I'll do my best to help - I'm using the EasyGPRS software).
So, I can now state that it IS easy to connect this phone to your computer (at least through a datacable). I don't have an infrared port on my computer so I've been unable to test this function out but rest assured, there is an infrared port on the phone if you wish to use it.
Once you've got it all working, you can do all the usual things such as save your phonebook and data onto the computer (in case you ever need to recover it presumably). I personally use the datacable to upload and download pictures and photographs to/from phone to/from computer.
This is how I've got the photos to demonstrate the camera function for you (see photos at the end of this review).
You can also upload new tones onto your phone using this software too. I have yet to try this function though so I can't really comment on it. I dare say its good though as the photo function is great!
= = = Good points = = =
What I like about this phone, apart from its ease of use, small compact size, lightweight and generally good looking is the fact its so easy to personalise and individualise it. You can customize it in all manner of ways (interally) such as the screen savers, logos, ring tones, etc, etc. One thing to remember though (as with many flip phones) is that you can't get new front and back fascias to personalise this from the outside.
As I say, the phone is simple and easy to use (even for someone who's never used a flip phone or indeed a Samsung phone before). The buttons aren't too awkward (although I do have small fingers so I suppose other people may find some a little tricky, especially the main navigation button).
The screen quality is also a good point, as is the camera quality itself. Compared with my old 7250i I am *very* pleasantly surprised by the quality on this phone. Although I have heard that most Nokia camera phones tend to be of a lower quality than other makes? How true this is I don't know, I have only heard this "on the grapevine" as it were. I personally can't see why this would make any difference. It is the pixels that make the camera quality what it is, not the make of the phone, surely?
= = = Bad Points = = =
I can honestly say that I don't have ANY major qualms with this phone as of yet. I have only had one annoying alarm problem. I'm not sure how it happened, I must've done something wrong! Basically I had a morning off work (very rare as I usually work 7 mornings a week!) Anyway, I was really looking forward to this rare chance for a liein. I set my alarm for 10:30am (as I still had to be out of the house by 11:30am to walk a couple of peoples' dogs for them (hey, its easy money!) Anyway. 7:30am on the dot my alarm starts going off. I turn over, turn it off, get out of bed, proceed downstairs, just as I normally would do to go to work. And THEN I remember its my morning off!! D'OH!! Anyway, fortunately I soon got back to sleep so it wasn't too much of a problem. I haven't figured out how it happened though. I dare say it was entirely my own fault though!
Aside from this, I haven't had any problems at all with the phone. I've not had any need to swear at it or anything of the sort! :o)
So far, so good!
I guess the only downside to this phone when compared with other more "top of the range" phones would be that it isn't Bluetooth enabled. (But then I don't have any use for that, certainly not at the moment). It also doesn't allow you to send video clips over MMS either. But then I didn't really have any desire to do so anyway so it personally doesn't bother me.
= = = Conclusion = = =
All in all, this phone gets top marks from me!
As I said, I got this phone from Argos for £75.95 but this offer is finished now (or rather they have all sold out) You'd be very lucky to find one for this price now I'm afraid. They all tend to be selling for more on eBay too, even second hand. I'm sure if you keep your eyes peeled though you might find one at a similarly good price.
I’d give the phone a 9.5/10 rating. Or a 4.5/5 rating if we’re going off Ciao terms! However, as it doesn’t allow 0.5 ratings on Ciao, I’ve rounded it up and given the phone 5/5 stars.
(The observant ones amongst you may notice that I gave the 7250i a rating of 9/10. I must say, when compared with this phone I would now drop that rating to 3/10 to be perfectly honest!) I must get around to updating that review sometime.
= = = Links = = =
Full specifications: http://www.gsmarena.com/index.php3?sRedir=http://www.gsmarena.com/samsung_e300-717.php
Some photo's of the phone itself: http://www.mobile-review.com/review/samsung-e300-live-en.shtml
Some more specifications and photos of the phone itself: http://www.mobile-review.com/phonemodels/samsung/samsung-e300-en.shtml
An Absolutley excellent result! you sure you didnt make this phone? lol Rach xx
marcellep 12.05.2005 19:58
Thats it I want it, A superb review. You deserve the "E" rating. Rob
rosillew 12.05.2005 02:46
An excellent and very detailed review.... I have an old Nokia, I would really love one of these but can't run to one at the moment, even though it was a fantastic price, takes great photo's too, Heatherx