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High-end XT phones expensive, but hard to fault

High-end XT phones expensive, but hard to fault

Samsung S8300 (Ultratouch)

After using Samsung’s S8300 touch screen phone, dubbed the Ultratouch, you don’t feel as though you’ve been deprived of much.

The interface is logical and clean, the build quality is top notch, it looks sleek in black metal with red accents, the camera has reached the giddy heights of 8MP and there are no issues with call quality.

The touchscreen display is also a highlight – it’s a 2.8 inch, capacitive OLED screen at 400 x 240 pixels and is covered in scratch resistant glass. Still images are displayed in vibrant colour.

Add to this high-speed downloading (7.2Mb per second), GPRS/EDGE, a GPS receiver and Google Maps, widgets and a keypad under the slider, and it’s a fully packed feature set. Wi-fi is the notable exclusion.

At $899, this phone’s looks and touch functionality make it more likely to appeal to well-heeled consumers than business people.

The S8300 runs version 1.5 of Samsung’s intuitive TouchWiz interface. There is a back-button below the screen to move back through the levels to the home screen. There’s no stylus, but icons are large enough that using your finger to tap the screen isn’t a problem.

An accelerometer will automatically rotate the display between landscape and portrait modes, and vibration feedback is built in to support each tap of your finger on the touchscreen. As well as the alphanumeric keypad, there’s an on-screen one too.

The interface lets you scroll through the widgets bar and then to drag some to the home screen if you want to access them more regularly. Among the many widgets on the review unit were SharePix, a useful app for uploading images to social networking sites of your choice, world map and time zones, YouTube, Facebook, the photo browser and a calendar shortcut.

As well as Google’s Gmail and Maps, and Sharepix, there’s a range of other applications including an FM radio with RDS, video editor, games, RSS reader and voice recorder.

The unit itself feels heavier than many consumer sliders (it’s 105 grams), but at 11mm thick it is still fairly slender.

The black metal body around the screen slides up to reveal a red keypad covered in clear plastic, along with the camera lens and flash, and a self-portrait mirror, surrounded by textured red metal at the rear.

The camera flash is only LED, but there aren’t many other drawbacks given you can take high resolution stills (3264 x 2448 pixels) and shoot up to 30fps video. The screen acts as the viewfinder, with icons on either side to adjust most settings. There’s also auto focus and Smile Shot among the shooting modes.

There’s DivX support for video, along with MPEG4, MP3, AAC and WMA.

In addition, Bluetooth is included for file transfer, along with a document viewer.

Once you’ve selected a contact from the phone book, you can choose to send an SMS or email, or make a voice or video call.

The camera shortcut key is on the right side of the phone, along with the flash key. Above these there’s a USB port and on the left side there’s a volume rocker.

You won’t be able to store a large media library by relying on the built in memory of 80MB, but there is a micro SD card slot (for cards up to 16GB).

The photo browser makes full use of the touch capabilities – you can scroll through images and use your finger to swipe from one to the next.

When browsing the web, WAP, HTML, xHTML and Java are supported. Telecom has also added its T World portal to this unit.

The lithium ion battery is rated for up to four hours of talk time. Thanks to the 500MHz CPU, this phone is a speedy performer.

Overall, Samsung’s offering is expensive, though the $899 price tag is largely justified with such full functionality, first-class touch capability and a range of handy applications.

Nokia E75

The E75 has a hard act to follow, after the release of earlier enterprise (E) series devices such as the E71.

The E71, a lightweight candy bar, debuted with a full QWERTY keyboard. The E75 also has this, but it slides out sideways from the top half of the phone instead. There are other similarities, with each phone being 3G and emphasising high-end connectivity, email and web features.

The E75 also uses the dual home screen feature introduced on the E71, which lets you customise home screens for business and personal use, with an icon in the main menu bar to switch between the two.

The handset is a lot smaller than many smartphones at 112 x 50 x 14mm, but also quite heavy at 139 grams. This can be attributed to the weightier lower half that houses the full keyboard and battery.

The E series’ professional look is maintained with a ridged silver-metal back and glossy black front protected by glass.

Moving around the handset, there’s a 3.5mm headphone jack on top, USB port and microSD card slots on the left (with 4GB high capacity card supplied), and camera and media control keys on the right.

There are shortcuts below the screen for the menu, calendar and email.

When you slide the keyboard out, the accelerometer will rotate the display to a landscape view.

Typing on the keyboard takes some getting used to, as the keys are flat and are not separated. As well, there are no dedicated numeric keys, so you have to hold down the letter keys to type a number.

The E75 offers a wide range of connectivity and data options, including HSDPA, Bluetooth, GPRS and wi-fi. When you connect to the internet, the phone will search for available WLANs.

Nokia touts the enhanced capabilities of Nokia Messaging on the E75. These include a revamped UI for browsing and managing your email, support for messages with HTML content and simple set-up using the wizard.

Most major email services are supported, including Microsoft Exchange on the business side, and Yahoo, Windows Live, Hotmail and Gmail on the consumer side.

Consumer accounts can be set up using only your email and password, but business accounts may require server details.

Running on version 9.3 of Symbian’s S60 OS, the E75 has a 369MHz CPU, and there are no noticeable slowdowns when working your way around the menu.

There are also powerful calling features including roaming, a built-in VoIP client, voice and speed dialling, speakerphone and conference calls.

The Contacts menu helpfully allows you to select voice, video, audio and text messaging directly after choosing a contact from your phonebook.

The E75 also offers Files on Ovi, a subscription service allowing access to web-based files.

The phone has a GPS receiver and is pre-loaded with Nokia’s Maps 2.0 application. Assisted navigation is provided on subscription.

Other built-in applications include instant messaging, a barcode scanner and push to talk.

QuickOffice is installed, along with a converter, PDF reader and Zip file manager. Business users can also connect to corporate intranets via a manually established connection or WLAN.

Nokia’s PC Suite software will allow you to sync with, and back up to, your PC.

For a business phone, the E75 performs well in multimedia. The music player allows easy management of playlists and the equaliser has six default modes. AAC, WMA, MP3, MP4 and most other common file formats are supported. An FM radio with RDS is also built in.

The 3.2MP camera is a weak point, when you consider other handsets are capable of capturing pictures at much higher resolution. Still-image quality often lacked definition and clarity, with only digital zoom on offer. Video also lacked quality during playback.

On the plus side, Nokia has included auto focus and red eye reduction, and all the required setting adjustments. Photos are easily shared via email or MMS, or Bluetooth, or over the internet using Ovi and photo sharing sites.

The E75 edges near the top of the price range of XT handsets at $999, but business users will expect this to be comparable with Blackberrys and other devices designed for working on the road.


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