Review of "Samsung E800"
You know you've stepped across a right little gem when you slide the phone open and it makes a Star Trek like noise, and proceeds to do another similar sound upon closure (you can change the sound or turn it off). Although I myself aren't a fan of the popular series I am happy to accept the novelties that the show seems to have brought into out technological lives…. and especially onto this phone. So why the Monica Bellucci of the phone world, I hear you ask? Well, like the aforementioned Italian beauty; it is sexy; it will leave you drooling; and, if I could have sex with it, I would. In all seriousness, however, and stepping aside from my evidently testosterone driven madness which has probably alienated the female readers at such an early stage, it's a damn fine phone that in all my selfishness, I wish only I could own: let me tell you more.Having tracked this phone for a while on the Samsung international website, waiting patiently for Orange to admit it to their league of upgrade available phones, it finally arrived and, through the seemingly devious ploy of telling Orange I was thinking of quitting (now the only way to get what you want with companies), the phone arrived on my doorstep for a zero sum. Looking at the fact that it costs £280 sim-free from The Carphone Warehouse, I think it's a pretty good deal. Otherwise this phone is more than worth the £280 to pay for its unattached services, which is the way I'd quite like my Bellucci…(unattached that is, for I am no kerb-crawler!!!)
Given the fact that the Siemens SL55 slide-up design was so popular, Samsung decided it would be a good idea to provide the world with one of their own. The Siemens model was quite problematic as the build wasn't the best but Samsung appear to have mastered the slide-up design, which should last the life of the phone. It is semi-automatic, which generally means it is spring-loaded and only really requires a little nudge in order to open it. Don't worry, it won't open of its own accord or when placed in a bag.
Look and Build (9/10)
The keys all look fairly sturdy but one major problem with their placement and, given the size of the phone, is that anyone with fingers larger than the average person will have difficulty using the phone to its true potential. That said, a little readjustment of hand positioning from time to time and anyone with the desire to own this superb phone could easily manage with a small amount of practice.The actual look of the phone is superb. It weighs in at a light 86g; looks compact and pretty stylish as far as phones go. Even my brother, who is a firm advocate of mobile phone abolishment, agrees that it looks the part. Even when slid open the phone continues to appeal.
The screen size is fairly large (128x160 pixels) and supports 65k colours, which is about the norm as far as current mobiles go (the Samsung D410 supports 252k colours but suffers from being a larger and heavier model). In my opinion the screen is adequate for my needs and any colour photo shines with the brilliance with which it was taken.
Usability and Screen Size (8/10)
The usability of the phone, away from the keys, is actually quite good. You can make and receive phone calls without sliding the phone open, which is a plus, although the call quality then becomes less clear. The menu is easy to access, is clear and shortcut keys cover the basic tools, such as new message, WAP connection, call history, silence and the camera. Along the left-hand side of the phone is a slider bar that allows call volume to be altered. On the right-hand side are the camera button, allowing you to take a self-portrait more easily, and a flap that can be lifted in order to plug in the hands-free kit. These buttons are all a silver colour and do not detract from the look of the phone.
Call Quality (9/10)
Calls sound quite clear on this phone and reception tends to be fairly good considering Samsung have removed the aerial that Nokia did away with so long ago. Using this phone on Orange, I do lose some signal in the country, often losing reception completely, but this is often the network, not the phone that is the problem. My V200 did that on occasion where I live, as does the E800.
Samsung have finally added the ability to add words to the predictive dictionary, something that had annoyed me before. Now, coupled with a more enhanced texting system (it works better for using capital letters etc than before, rather than just using caps which none of us like receiving), sending messages is more of a joy than it ever was. The phone holds 200 texts, which I see as more than adequate as I usually only use the sim card, and 150 photo messages.---------------
Key Features (8/10)
GPRS - The fastest WAP loading I have come across so far. I used to sit there patiently, waiting for data to load on my V200 but now the E800 zips through it, making for a more enjoyable experience. The E800 also has a more advance caching system built in, thus allowing pages to be loaded even more quickly and, when pressing the back button on the browser, the pages are usually saved and thus pop up immediately. I applaud the fact that within WAP sessions, if you enter data into a text box, the E800 tends to keep track of this during that connection and will offer you the option to input it again when returning to that page, something that previous phones failed to do.Camera - Taking pictures is easy enough and the phone memory can store a great number (I'm not exactly sure as it all depends on how many ringtones etc you have stored). The picture quality is fairly good, much better than the V200, with 4x digital zoom, which I find quite pointless, brightness control, image effects (sepia, negative, emboss, sketch), and also a flashlight, which works very well and can be controlled manually as well as automatically. Pictures can be taken in a number of sizes (maximum 640x480 pixels) and differing quality depending on the number of photos you'd like to store. Having used the Samsung V200 camera a fair bit, this is certainly a marked improvement but still falls a little short of making it worthwhile against carrying a separate digital camera.
Java - The Java function is meant to allow better WAP surfing (I agree), better gaming (I'm not sure - see below), and use of enhanced applications (where are these?). Well, as far as I'm concerned it does wonders for the WAP, allowing web pages to load with more data etc. than before.Ringtones - Much better than the V200 and other phones such as the Sony Ericsson T600 but obviously doesn't compare to downloading a tone of your favourite artists etc. At least Samsung have removed many of the clown/circus noises that the V200 made.
Games - Two games are included, Bubble Smile (I have no idea how to explain this one but it doesn't last long enough and relies on a lot of luck) and Snowball (where you throw snowballs at opponents and try not to get hit yourself, quite pointless if you ask me). Although you can download new games to the phone, the ones included are pretty appalling. I remember the Tetris my Ericsson used to have a few years ago, which still remains a better game than any of these new creations. The Java enhancement doesn't seem to have made enough of an impact to the idea behind the games but does improve the gameplay and colours involved.Dual Band - Works in Europe but not in the U.S. (if I'm not mistaken), which could be a problem for some travellers. Considering the general cost of calling when abroad I don't particularly see a problem with this only being dual band.
Photo Caller Id - Obviously the phone has caller ID but picture ID has been added, where you can use pictures you have taken or some stored on the phone. However, the disappointing thing is that you can't use downloaded pictures in this section, something I had hoped to do.Noise Reduction - According to the manufacturer, the E800 comes equipped with noise reducing technology, which cancels out excess ambient noise so that the person on the other end only hears your voice. It also has inbuilt voice clarity, which raises the volume of a call if there is too much noise around. I have yet to try these out but definitely sound good.
Loudspeaker - Samsung have also added a loudspeaker option, which is useful when waiting for call centres to take you off hold, rather than waiting for hours with the phone my your ear. It is quite loud and fairly clear.
Battery Life (9/10)
So far I have had no problems with battery life. The manufacturer claims 5 hours talktime and 200 hours standby time but I don't know many people who haven't used other phone functions at the same time, so it is hard to judge exactly. Using the phone for WAP services, quite heftily in testing the phone to its very limits, and also making and receiving calls, the phone tends to last 2 days, but with lighter use I would see the manufacturer guidelines to be fairly correct.
I received the phone with a small item to attach to the phone, which you can then place around your finger in order to secure the phone when talking on it. Goodness knows how this actually attaches, but I am sure I'll work it out if I can be bothered to use it. The charger is obviously present as well as a hands-free kit, which has now been upgraded by Samsung and looks stylish too. It appears that the company have aimed this phone to be as much a technological achievement as a designer accessory. The manual is very easy to understand and pretty much redundant as the phone is self-explanatory. No data cable was included with this phone (maybe Orange don't provide it, I don't know) and no CD with the software to use with a data cable. This will be available on the Samsung site, but with the V200 the size of the file was around 75MB, which is a problem for dial-up modem users.
Very impressive overall as the phone works, looks and sounds superb. Despite the obvious qualms of incorporated ringtones, lack of space between keys and some technical annoyances such as not adding downloaded pictures to photo caller ID, the phone is pretty damn good. I like the enhancements Samsung have made to their phones. They now seem to operate a little more like Nokia's, with predictive text learning etc., but have a more aesthetic look to them. The general annoyances are far outweighed by the pure enjoyment of the phone's functions and look. Although £280 would seem a lot for a phone, a £50 upgrade or less is certainly a worthwhile investment considering the technology you are getting. Understandably there is no Bluetooth but I haven't really seen many chances to exploit this technology anywhere yet, apart from headsets. The infrared, on the other hand, works better than any Samsung before. By activating this and placing the phone near an infrared compatible laptop, it was immediately recognised in Windows XP as the E800 and thus could be used to access the Internet, if you are interested in that.SAR (Radiation) - The phone was tested and had an output of 0.32W/Kg, where the guidelines are 2W/Kg.
***After 9 months the phone is still working a treat. Battery life remains good for this period of use and the phone still hasn't thrown up too many problems. It has turned itself off a couple of times, but nothing more serious than that. Excellent.
Product Information : Samsung E800
Manufacturer's product description
Listed on Ciao since: 10/08/2004