Sometimes an excellent operating system can be made even better
The official phone of the Beijing Olympics
- Adaptive touch window, build quality and design, 7.2 HSDPA, 5-megapixel camera, intuitive OS
- No 3.5mm headphone jack, tactile feedback of keypad, mediocre Internet browser
The U900’s adaptive touch control system makes using this handset a breeze. Although it’s not without its faults, the overall package combines a stylish and well built frame with the latest HSDPA technology, ensuring this is an excellent choice for most consumers.
Price$ 699.00 (AUD)
Touch screens have become all the rage thanks to the original iPhone and now the iPhone 3G. Although the Samsung U900 isn't a full touch-screen device, it boasts an intuitive and extremely capable adaptive touch window. In addition, the official phone of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games also features a 5-megapixel camera with LED flash and 7.2Mbps HSDPA technology.
The U900 is the first Samsung phone to feature what the company calls "adaptive touch" technology. Replacing the regular navigational pad found on most phones is a touchpad display window. The buttons on the touchpad change depending on which handset functions are being used. For example, when using the camera, icons such as flash and self-timer appear; navigating to the music player will make playback controls, like stop and pause, display. During general usage, the adaptive touchpad will act as a regular five-way navigational pad, with direction icons and a centre key.
In a way, this is similar to LG's KF600. The difference is that the speed and responsiveness of the U900 is exceptional, resulting in a pleasant user experience on the whole. Many other handsets with touch-sensitive controls complicate the user experience, but the opposite is true of the U900. Haptic feedback is also present — users have the option of adjusting both vibration strength and the sensitivity of the touchpad.
Overall the U900 is a stylish handset. We were very impressed with both the look and feel. The phone's build feels strong and sturdy and the spring-operated slider has a smooth action. The gloss, brushed metal finish on the front and rear is certainly attractive, although we aren't a fan of the raised, rubberised rear below the battery cover.
The keypad is a mixed bag: although it suits the design of the handset on a whole, the keys are quite flat and aren't well separated. Most users will adjust after a certain period of use, but tactile feedback when messaging isn't as strong as on many competing phones.
Some of Samsung's latest handsets run the Symbian OS, but the U900 runs the proprietary Samsung operating system. This has its advantages and disadvantages. On one hand, the ability to design user-created skins from within the handset as well as the user-friendly design and implementation is a positive, but Symbian offers a wider range of third-party applications. Regardless, the user experience on a whole is excellent.
We tested a Telstra Next G version of the U900 which offers access to a range of BigPond services including Yellow Pages, Mobile FOXTEL, WhereIs Mobile and the Trading Post. Being a 7.2Mbps HSDPA-capable device, we had no issue accessing any of these features, although mobile Internet browsing is frustrating as many pages aren't optimised for viewing on such a small display.
The U900 is a fair multimedia handset, but a huge disappointment is the lack of a 3.5mm headphone jack and the absence of an adapter in the sales package. The included headphones are proprietary and their sound quality is average; however, A2DP Bluetooth means you can stream your music wirelessly to a compatible set of headphones or speakers.
The 5-megapixel camera is noteworthy. It offers a bright LED flash that makes night-time photography useful, while autofocus, an image stabiliser and face detection technology adds to the overall package. Other features include SMS, MMS and e-mail messaging with T9 predictive text input, an FM radio and a range of PIM features such as a voice recorder, calendar, alarms, an RSS reader and stopwatch.
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