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Samsung U900 Soul - Fortus Mobile Phone Review

Jul 10, 2008
I've been reviewing mobile phones for nearly four years now; in that time, I've used upwards of sixty of them, starting with the Motorola RAZR back in 2004. To get back in the swing of writing reviews, I re-read some of my older ones, and stumbled across this note about an early Samsung camera phone:

"While a 1.2 megapixel camera is stunning for a device this small, I think I'd sign a contract with the Devil himself for a slimline phone that had a true photography grade CCD in it."

Luckily for me, I didn't have to sign a contract at all - my review model from Samsung arrived in a white box, ready for me to pop my SIM card into and to test. My aim was to see if this would finally replace the Nokia N95 as my keeper phone.

The U900 (called, ironically enough, the Soul) is a just-shy-of-too-fashionable slider phone with not quite enough features to be a smart phone. (My daughter, nearly 16, is the determining factor on whether or not the phone is too fashionable. If she likes it, it's a sure sign that I will be grumbling about the effort put into making it look cool rather than usable.)

In terms of hardware specifications, it's a fully 3G phone, able to take advantage of HSDPA networks, as well as dual band GSM. We got good signal everywhere we expected it, though a bit less good in places where the N95 shone. The phone's camera is a 5 megapixel CCD, with built in color correction, and a very nice flash, considering it's an LED. The 320x240 pixel TFT display is bright and colorful, and thankfully not a touch screen. The device comes with 60 MB of memory, and can take a MicroSD slot for storing more files.

Like practically every phone under the sun, it's a fully functional MP3 player, with an FM player. Its onboard navigation system is a standard Samsung setup, and while I fumbled at first, that's mostly due to having the Nokia Symbian interface memorized past the point of muscle memory.

The keypad is a little bit too stiff to reliably do one handed dialing, which is the primary minus on the phone. On the plus side, it has a surprisingly effective photo editing application built into the phone. You can crop, resize, color balance, and remove red-eye without downloading the photos back to a PC to open them up in Photoshop. While I consider this to be a "feature that isn't one", I know several people who can't seem to go a day without uploading some photo to an online photo sharing service, or Twitter. It's also small enough that it doesn't feel like a brick in the pocket, and it is capable of taking QVGA video; you'll definitely want the expansion card to store video of any length on it/

The phone's data communications are lackluster, but to be fair, most mobile devices fall down in this area. Certainly, this phone is aimed at the iPhone from Apple, but with a more conventional user interface. For its intended purpose, it shines, though it won't lure me from my Nokia N95.
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