Samsung Armani review: Mobile haute couture
Display is the keypad
The Armani phone by Samsung is equipped with a 2.6" touchscreen 262K color TFT display. Besides looking great it also allows the user to punch their way around the user interface.
The display offers nice colors, contrast, and saturation but doesn't fare that well under direct sunlight. The fingerprints all over the touchscreen display don't help much either. There is of course the Sunlight mode, which boosts brightness and contrast in order to ensure legibility but it's not our favorite option.
As you've probably already guessed it, the display serves as a keypad too. And it is a proper keypad, we may add.
We are delighted with its performance mostly due to the added haptic feedback. That simply means that almost every touch on the display produces a slight vibration that lets you know your command has been acknowledged.
We say "almost every touch" since the Samsung haptics only take effect when an action is completed - for example upon confirming something. When you dial a number the virtual numeric keypad doesn't give off any vibrating response.
A bit of a tech newsflash here: the almighty Apple iPhone doesn't have haptic feedback, while the LG KU990 Viewty has it with a lot of user configurable options such as the vibration style and strength. The Samsung Armani only allows choosing between three levels of vibration intensity, which is not bad at all too.
Judging by the sound of it
With Samsung Armani phone we had no problems during calls - sound is crystal clear and yet loud enough so that you won't have troubles communicating with whoever you are calling.
In order to dial a number, you need to use the fullscreen touchpad. Unlike some of the other Samsung handsets we've reviewed recently, the Armani phone doesn't suggest contacts, whose numbers contain the digits you have typed.
When dialing, the contact's picture doesn't show up, however it's displayed fullscreen on an incoming call.
When it comes to loudspeaker performance, the Samsung Armani phone was definitely not among the loudest ones we've heard. You can see how it ranks alongside some other devices we've tested. To find more info about the test itself and the other devices we have measured, check out the dedicated page here.
|Speakerphone test||Voice, dB||Ringing ||Overal score|
|Apple iPhone (fw 1.1.1)||67.2||60.2||66.6|
|LG KU990 Viewty||72.0||68.8||77.8||Good|
|Sony Ericsson T650||75.7||75.7||83.7|
The nice-to-look-at Croix interface
The award-winning Samsung Armani touch interface called Croix (Cross) is based on the well-known menu style we've seen in previous (not so high-roller) Samsung handsets.
On the main standby screen there are three functional areas - a calendar bar at the bottom, a crosshairs in the center and a shortcut bar on the top.
|"...We also found a consistent flaw with the Samsung Armani user interface. All the icons on the standby screen and the ones in the main menu lack text labels. Their styling also makes it hard to guess their function..."|
A finger sweep on the Calendar bar at the bottom changes the view to the current time and date only. If you have setup the world clock, it will show more than one clock. When the music player is running, the currently playing track is shown on this bar, along with the album art if there is one. The whole bar can be turned off should you choose so. Unfortunately, this Calendar is not associated with the Organizer part of the interface and doesn't show up the pending events.
The crosshairs in the middle of the screen open a special cross-like shortcuts menu. From there you can open the music player, the phonebook, messaging and the calls log. Touching the center opens the main menu. Shortcuts to this special cross-like menu are available throughout the whole menu interface.
The shortcut bar on the top of the standby mode features three shortcuts. The first one activates the Silent mode after a touch and hold, the second one opens the main menu and finally, the third one toggles the dialing keypad. We've never seen the concept of "press-and-hold" translated to a touch-sensitive interface but it works well in preventing accidental key presses.
The main menu displays as a 4 x 3 grid of icons. There are no alternative color versions besides the black and brass combo. Sub-menus are visualized as lists. Funny enough, all sub-menus have a numerical shortcut, which of course cannot be used in the case of the Armani phone, and yet it's there.
Playing around with the Samsung Armani Croix user interface
For scrolling through those sub-menus you can use either vertical sweeps or you can press on the side scrollbar to activate it and scroll by slowly drawing your finger up and down along the scrollbar. We have to say that scrolling itself is far away from the almost physical interactivity of the iPhone interface. The Armani scrolling has its quirks and let's just say that we are not delighted by it.
We also found a consistent flaw with the Samsung Armani user interface. All the icons on the standby screen and the ones in the main menu lack text labels. Their styling also makes it hard to guess their function. The main menu icons have text labels but they are only visible once you touch the individual icon - however touching those means starting their corresponding function. So essentially, you have to rely on some heavy Samsung experience to find your way around the Samsung Armani interface. However, we guess not all people have that.
Entering data comes natural - a single tap on the field highlights it, then a second one invokes the on-screen keypad.