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The new Samsung slider phone may not look as attractive as its LG counterpart (Secret KF750), but what it lacks in flair, it certainly makes up for in design and functionality. We take a look at the U900, go with our sense of touch, and find where the ‘adaptive touch’ function comes into play.


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Don’t expect heads to turn when this phone is in your hands: it looks very ordinary and feels just like any other Samsung slider phone. The unit is fairly thick, sports a brushed aluminium finish that prevents fingerprints from sticking to the surface, and a large screen that takes up half of the space (when closed).

Users can find the key tone/volume buttons and proprietary headphone/charging port on the left spine, a microSD card slot and camera key on the right spine, and a 2.2-inch screen display, a secondary camera, soft keys (left and right), dial and end keys, as well as the ‘Adaptive Touch’ panel up front. While unnecessary, the ‘sunken’ area found at the end of the top panel is a welcomed addition, helping users slide the unit more easily.

Sliding the phone reveals the keypad with three additional hotkeys (video call, clear, and application switch) for added versatility. The keys are not raised, which makes ‘touch-texting’ difficult. It does have a row separator though, which helps split the buttons to a certain degree.

 


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Since the unit that we obtained for review runs on Telstra’s Next G network, the company has pre-loaded it with some of Telstra’s services. The main screen sports five icons (Mobile Foxtel, BigPond Music, Messages, Yellow Pages, and Bigpond), while going on the main menu reveals 12 sub-menus (Call Log, Messages, BigPond, Camera, Telstra My Place, Multimedia, Calendar, Contacts, My Files, Applications, Alarms, and Settings).

The handset is very responsive, with us being able to browse through the main and sub-menus with minimal slowdowns. The Adaptive Touch panel vibrates with every touch and is responsive as well, making it easy for us to navigate through the icons. If the vibration feedback feature is just a little too much for you, then you can opt to turn it off by going to the Phone settings.

Speaking of the ‘Adaptive Touch’ panel, the U900 automatically changes the icons displayed on the one-inch screen depending on what function is being used. For example, when browsing through the main menu, you get four arrow keys and an OK button in the middle. But once you listen to your music, the icons change to previous, next, playlist, stop, and pause. While some of us find this function clever, a number of our colleagues find it too flashy and unnecessary. Users can also change the shortcuts on the screen, allowing you to put up to four different hotkeys when needed.

 


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Call quality was excellent, with us experiencing no dropouts and audio feedback during our tests. Video streaming was fast and lag-free (particularly Mobile Foxtel), thanks to its HSDPA speeds. Internet surfing is also good, although Samsung should have spent a little more time improving on the look and feel of the browser.

The U900’s 5-megapixel camera was able to produce noteworthy shots (better than the G800 we reviewed three months ago), with users being able to change the flash, macro, timer, and exposure settings instantly (since the adaptive touch panel changes its icons for this mode as well). Photos taken during the day were sharp and clear, with us just letting the camera take shots in automatic mode. When taking dark/night shots however, we had to change a couple of settings manually in order to get a great shot. In the end, it all boils down on trial and error, how well you know the camera, and how fast you can adjust the settings.

The U900 lasted for two and a half days with a single charge, which is just about right. Samsung claims that the U900 will have a talk time of up to 4 hours, and a standby time of 250 hours when connected to the 3G network.

Overall, the Samsung U900 is a solid handset that definitely takes personalisation to the next level. We like the simple and clean look, sturdy build, the customisable ‘adaptable touch’ screen, the fast Internet and video streaming, and the 5-megapixel camera sensor. This phone is available now with an RRP of $849, but you can always get a better deal if you sign up for a 24-month contract on various Telco providers.

See page over for product specifications and final rating.

 

Samsung SGH-U900T Phone Specifications:

Band: Tri-Band (900/1800/1900MHz)
Network & Data: UMTS / HSDPA 2100MHz (Up to 7.2Mbps) / UMTS / HSDPA 850/2100MHz (Up to 7.2Mbps) (Telstra variant only)
Operation System: Native OS
Browser: WAP 2.0
JAVA: JAVA MIDP 2.0

Display:
Size:  2.2-inch QVGA TFT display
Resolution: 240 x 320 pixels

Battery:
Talk time: Up to 4 hours
Standby: Up to 400 hours (2G), 250 hours (3G)

Input Device: Normal Keypad and Adaptive Touch Window

Camera:
Resolution: 5-megapixel
Digital/Optical Zoom: 4x Digital Zoom

Video:
Video player: MPEG4, H.263, H.264
Video recording: MPEG4, H.263
Video messaging: Yes
Video Streaming: Yes
Video Telephony: Yes
Video Wallpaper: No

Music Player: MP3, AAC, AAC+, e-AAC+, WMA

Memory:
User Memory: 110MB
SMS: 500 SMS
Phone book entries: 1,000 phone book entries
External Memory: Yes (Up to 8GB)

Dimensions: 105.9 x 49.5 x 12.9mm / 106.0 x 49.5 x 15.9mm (Telstra variant only)
Weight: 112g

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Samsung SGH-U900T (Telstra) | $849 |  | www.samsung.com.au

For: Adaptive touch screen is responsive; Speedy Interface; Simple look; HSDPA speeds; Good camera
Against: Built-in browser could have been better; Screen gets very ‘dirty’ after a while
Conclusion: Simplicity is key with the new Samsung U900.

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