Samsung S5600V: Touchscreen on a budget

Samsung S5600V: Touchscreen on a budget

Buyers of Samsung’s S5600V mobile phone will sacrifice some options that come with higher-end devices – such as full multigesture touch support, metal material in case construction and wifi; but this offering has got plenty of functionality to justify the price.

Vodafone is selling the handset for $399. For the price you get video calling, a decent camera (3.2MP), Google Maps, a wide range of widgets and 3G connectivity for quick web browsing.

It is also small and light and looks slick.

Weighing 92 grams and with dimensions of 103 x 55 x 13 mm it will easily fit into a handbag or a pocket.

The 2.8 inch QVGA, resistive touchscreen takes up most of the front, joined by call and end/power buttons below and a front camera for video calling. The rear is glossy black plastic, surrounding the 3.2MP rear camera. Volume rockers are on the left, with camera and lock buttons on the right.

The diamond-shaped navigation pad on the front can be awkward to use and a traditional D-Pad would have been easier.

The display is vivid and bright and the touchscreen is responsive, supported by haptic vibration feedback. However, there is only support for tap, swipe and drag gestures, rather than any pinch to zoom functionality.

The widgets bar and dual home screens are useful features – widgets can be added from the menu and dragged into customised places. The second home screen can be used to place icons for additional, commonly used menu items.

As well as the dual home screens, the main menu is accompanied by a Communications menu for accessing social networking and media apps such as MySpace, Facebook, YouTube, Flickr, Photobucket and Picasa.

The phone’s default widgets include Vodafone Live, calendar, dual clocks, photo editor, YouTube, the voice recorder, FM radio, music player, and the help menu. Samsung also provides an application to download more widgets.

There’s also a “smart” unlocking feature, where a character can be selected and drawn to unlock the phone, applications or speed dial.

There’s no physical QWERTY keyboard, but there is a virtual one activated by an icon at the bottom of the touchscreen. Alongside this are icons for your contact book and the main menu.

The quad-band GSM phone has only 40MB of onboard memory, but supports extensions of up to 16GB via the Micro SD card slot.

It was hard to find fault with audio call quality on the S5600V. The quality of the images produced by the still and video camera were also fine, with an LED flash and autofocus.

The device is also decently equipped for communications, with support for email, standard text and PXT, along with video PXT and video calls. Photo contacts is a fun feature, allowing you to scroll through an arc of pictures of people you’ve stored in your contacts book.

The music player is intuitive to navigate, along with the FM radio, with includes RDS. The device also offers a number of game demos.

Downloading files is relatively quick thanks to the HSDPA (7.2Mbps) connectivity, and this also makes for fast web browsing using the pre-installed Samsung Mobile Browser v0.8. Connectivity also extends to GPRS/EDGE, Bluetooth and USB. Samsung supplies the USB cable, along with headphones to use with the 3.5mm jack, and a microphone cable.

V2.3.2 of Google Maps is also pre-installed, but there’s no assisted GPS.

The phone supports Flash and Java, along with a number of multimedia file formats including MP3, WMA, AAC, MP4, H.263 and H.264, but not DivX.

Samsung includes its Windows-based PC Studio software on CD with the phone. It allows management of your data and multimedia files, messages, PC to phone connections, sync data with your PC, and use the phone as a PC-connected modem.

The vendor rates the S5600V for three hours and 20 minutes of 3G talk time and 12 days on standby in 3G mode.

Samsung doesn’t claim to be top dog with this offering and this is reflected in the price. But it offers plenty of functionality and does each of them well.

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