Samsung has taken to producing touch phones with a lot of energy these days. After all, it is the latest trend and Samsung can hardly stay away from it. Regular gadget heads will remember that Samsung did the same thing when the trend was to make slim phones and slider phones. All in all, Samsung can actually be seen as somewhat of a follower than a leader when it comes to making phones.
However, that does not mean that they make bad phones. They usually make two kinds of phones – the affordable ones for the masses and the expensive ones for the high-end market. Their offerings may not lack in quality but what they do lack is innovation. In today’s highly competitive world, innovation is the only thing that can set companies apart. If you want proof – just look at the Palm Pre and the iPhone. They are enough proof that innovation is more important than anything.
That gripe aside, Samsung’s new midrange touch phone for consumers – the Highlight – offers things that you have already seen before but is a good phone that is very easy to use, has simple operations and the right price.
The phone measures 4.37 inches x 2.11 inches x 0.54 inches, which can be seen as a bit bulky. Its shape makes it comfortable to hold in your hands. At 3.5 oz, the phone might feel too light for its size but the overall construction is pretty good with the due exception of the battery cover.
The screen measures 3 inches, which is barely enough for it to be a comfortable touch screen. However, the screen more than makes up for its size with its rich display. The screen displays 16 million colors and has a 400×240 pixels resolution. This makes the images, text, videos and graphics look quite good on the phone.
Below the screen are permanent touch controls for bringing up the phone dialer, the web browser, the phone book and the main menu. The touch feedback is quite visible and you will know when you have touched a control. So it takes the guesswork out of touch controls. The TouchWiz touch interface works quite well and is simple enough to use. (have you noticed how many terms have ‘touch’ attached to them lately?)
For text input, you have can choose between a small alphanumeric keypad and a virtual keyboard. The keys on the virtual keyboard are a bit small and you have to go through multiple keys to get to symbols but you will be able to adapt quite easily to it.
The physical buttons on the phone are three in number and well spaced out for easy use. These are the talk, end/power and clear buttons. The right side has the camera shutter button and the headphone/power combo port. The left side has a fairly large volume rocker. The camera is on the back with no self-portrait mirror or flash. The 3-megapixel camera has been praised by some of the reviewers and some of them found it just okay. So it is not a bad camera to have. There’s also an option that is supposed to detect when a subject is smiling and take a picture at that moment.
The camera can also record video. There are two resolutions to choose from – 320×240 pixels and 176×144 pixels. In both the still photo mode and the video mode, you have self-timers and helpful interfaces that are easy to use.
The address book on the Highlight holds quite a lot of data with 2000 possible contacts. Each contact can have up to 4 phone number, 4 email addresses, 3 IM handles (Yahoo!, AIM and Windows Live), 1 URL, 1 anniversary, 1 nickname, a street address and notes. That is quite a lot of data per contact. This is coupled with the additional 250 names that the SIM card can hold.
It has a USB mass storage mode, PC syncing, an RSS reader, web-based POP3 e-mail handling, a file manager, speaker independent voice dialing, Telenav Navigator GPS support, and Bluetooth with A2DP (Stereo headphone support).
A very annoying thing about the phone is that the expansion card slot is behind the battery itself. So each time you want to swap out MicroSD cards, you have to reset the time and the date because you have to disconnect the battery. The internal memory is very low – only 60 MB. So you will need to use a microSD card. Thankfully, there you have the option to push it up to 16GB.
The phones music player is a simple and is easy to use. It has six equalizer settings, playlists, repeat and shuffle modes. You can listen to your own music or download it from the Internet. You can multitask with the phone by sending the music player to the background. There’s also an airplane mode for the times when you are up in the air.
The phone supports full HTML browsing but has its bad sides when it comes to the browsing. The browser is snappy and supports copy-pasting images and URLs in to messages. However, the zooming feature is terrible and the screen is too small for comfortable viewing. Another problem with Samsung touch phones is that they will switch to the WAP version of the website if one’s available. Switching back to full HTML is problematic.
The in-call voice quality is good on the Highlight. The testers have reported no static interference or such from the nearby devices. The signal remains steady and strong on the phone. The only problem is that the in call volume is low, which has been the main complaint from the reviewers when it comes to voice calls. The people on the other end reported a good voice quality in most cases.
Speakerphone is decent but has its own share of problems. There is more noise than normal calls and people at the other end complained of not being able to hear the call clearly.
The battery life is long with 6.5 hours of talk time and 18.5 days of stand-by time.
So all in all, this is good entry-level touch phone from Samsung. It has its flaws but it is okay for basic users who want an affordable touch phone. T-Mobile sells it for a subsidized price of $149.