Not so many moons ago, when the cellphone first made its presence felt on African shores, no one could have predicted the extent to which it would truly penetrate the continent. Being a lover of gadgets, the explosion of the cellphone industry has meant that there is always something new for me to play with. And over the last two years, I’ve been fortunate enough to frequently access different ones to review.
The one challenge when reviewing phones is that, with the technological advancements, the playing field has changed and what was once unique is now standard. Across the cellphone / smartphone manufacturers, there are many features that are common. The implication is then that preference for one phone over another goes way beyond merely what the phone offers. The decision to purchase one over another is often subjective and speaks more to the image of the brand and the relationship it has with its customers.
I have never actually used a Samsung cellphone / smartphone and I jumped at the opportunity to fiddle with one for a couple of days. Interestingly enough, while I was still caught up in the image of Samsung as an electronics company so you can also imagine my surprise when I discovered that they are second in market share in South Africa and have built a solid following with some very nice phones.
Anyway, my hook-up pitches up with the Samsung i8910HD for me to play with and the first thing I discover is that it is touch screen. I’ve never really been into touch screen. I have thick thumbs and I like buttons. Aesthetically, the phone is nice! Its Symbian Full Touch Screen is a decent size (3.7” AMOLED 16m 640×360 Display) and the phone is thin, light, looks cool (or as they say these days “it’s got swag”) yet is packed with all the features one needs and more. These include: Advanced TouchWiz UI with Widget; Mobile Widget; Share Pix; Document Viewer; E-Dictionary; Biz Card Recognition; Podcasting; 3D Games (I downloaded Asphalt); Application Download; Push Email (MS Exchange); Real-time video uploading; and Smart Search. Also the GPS navigation for SA will come with a 2-year license.
Let’s be honest, very few of us actually use even 50% of what our phones have to offer and I’m one of those who tries out most features when I get the phone, then never use them again. To determine how a phone works for you, I say just use it. Don’t change your habits; let the phone slot into your lifestyle. Plus, not being an expert means I’d probably fall short if I tried to explain technical intricacies.
The i8910HDfitted perfectly into my normal routine, especially once I’d figured out how to lock the screen. First day, I had to carry it in my hand because it kept dialling people from my pocket (but that’s more me than the phone). The touch screen is comfortable and relatively responsive – each ‘key’ vibrates as you hit it so you know something happened.
You can switch from Qwerty (landscape), alphanumeric to handwriting (using your finger). Handwriting didn’t work for me. Qwerty was cool when chilling while I used alphanumeric when driving (yes, I know, I shouldn’t). I did have to constantly check whether I hit the right button because of my fat fingers and the fact that it is hard to differentiate letters by sliding fingers over buttons.
The Display does auto-rotate from portrait to landscape but I did struggle to tweet comfortably and, for those who know me, I spend enough time on Twitter. I couldn’t get it right. Twitter in the browser looked small and when I zoomed in, I struggled to scroll, so it was uncomfortable. That may speaks more to my lack of ability and patience than the phone.
The thing that attracted me most to the Samsung was, very simply, this. It can show and record video in High-Definition! I went straight into the sample videos and they blew me away. I could comfortably sit and watch a movie of this device. The quality of image on that display is something else. I am a relatively new parent and I use my mobile to film my son ad nauseum. In his two years of existence, I literally have over 100 video clips – and photos – of him taken with my phone. And now I have some shot in HD. It also helps that it comes in 8GB or 16GB to which you can add up to 32GB with a microSD card giving you enough space for music and movies. I have a friend who wants the phone after having seen just that.
Overall, I was a bit disappointed when I had to return phone and switched my sim card back to my normal phone while in the parking lot. Still not a big touch screen person but I definitely enjoyed using it.