Samsung E590 review: Simple on purpose

GSMArena team, 28 August 2007.
Pages: 1234»

Tags: Samsung

Designwise, the Samsung E590 is stunningly different from pretty much everything you would expect in a modern mobile phone. Yet, its armory includes a high-quality TFT display and a decent 3 megapixel camera. Plus, it's delightfully minimalist and comes at a relatively low price. All in all, though not a seducer, the Samsung E590 is a downright square deal. You are more than welcome to take the official GSMArena tour of the Samsung E590.

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Official photos: black and white version

Key features:

  • 3 megapixel autofocus camera with a half-shutter key
  • Tri-band GSM/GRPS/EDGE support
  • Square 1.8" 262K color TFT display with 220x220 pixels resolution
  • Stereo Bluetooth (A2DP)
  • FM radio
  • MS Office documents viewer
  • microSD memory card slot
  • microSD card in the retail package (512MB or 1GB varying by market)
  • Really compact body and ascetic design
  • Intriguing bean bag in the retail package

Main disadvantages:

  • Slow memory-card reading
  • No TV out functionality
  • Slow document viewer
  • Java applications can be installed only through WAP
  • Only preset message ringtones

Clean-cut and low-key, the Samsung E590 invokes mixed feelings and is definitely not an eye-catcher. We are all used to shiny plastic and metal in fashionable handsets produced under various brands. The Samsung E950 is nothing like it; in fact it's nothing like any other mobile phone on the market. This is a designer handset, but by no means in-your-face. User-friendliness, great display and a nice camera - all packed into a minimalist bar-shaped body. It looks more like a child's toy. We need not tell you, looks can be deceptive.

The design of E590 was entrusted to the Jasper Morrison studio, renowned for the clean shapes and simplicity of their designs. You can see the portfolio of the JM Office for Design at their web site.

The Samsung E590 is not a high-end, nor a fashion phone. Fair enough, many people will consider it when looking for a budget cameraphone. And you have our word, it is worthy of being called a cameraphone. But more on that is to come later.

Currently, the E590 is available in two colors: black or white. We personally favor the black one, but that's just us.

Beyond the toy-like image

The Samsung E590 measures 94 x 42 x 13.5 mm and weighs the meager 65 g. It's a really compact handset - it slips unnoticeably into you shirt or trouser pocket, though it's not even nearly as slim as the current record holder - the Samsung U100, which stands at no more than 5.9 mm.

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Samsung E590

The earpiece grill can be seen just above the 1.8" TFT display. When you zoom in on the keypad, you can see how stylish the keys' shape is. The central correction (C) is right under the navigation joystick, pushing the middle column of alpha-numeric keys down.

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The earpiece grill • the keys are all ergonomically rounded

The left side of the handset features a volume rocker, the microSD memory card slot and the universal port for connecting the charger, the headset, or the data cable. In the lower left corner an eyelet can be seen - it is used for fastening a neck or wrist strap.

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The volume rocker is again large and rounded • the universal port and the memory card slot follow suit • the protective caps are somewhat hard to open

Designwise, the Samsung E590 is stunningly different from pretty much everything you would expect in a modern mobile phone. Yet, its armory includes a high-quality TFT display and a decent 3 megapixel camera. Plus, it's delightfully minimalist and comes at a relatively low price.

The right side of the handset features only the camera-specific keys, much like a regular digital camera. Here we find the camera mode key, the capture key, and a rocker key that is used for zooming in and out. The zoom keys are a really nice touch, but the phone sports only digital zooming, which one hardly uses, as it produces only crops of the real image. The camera mode key switches between still camera and camcorder. It's a real pity it only gets used in the camera application. It would have been nice if this key had some other function in the phone interface, when the camera is not on. The same goes for the zoom keys, too. The camera shutter key has two press levels - a halfway press for focusing and exposure locking, followed by a full press which actually takes the picture. This half-shutter mode is available in Sony Ericsson Cyber-shot handsets but it appears in a Samsung handset for the first time.

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Dedicated zoom keys are right next to the shutter key • there's also a shooting mode key

The top part of the handset features no controls at all, and the only thing that marks the bottom is the microphone pinhole.

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Top side is bare • the microphone pinhole on the bottom side

The backside of the Samsung E590 follows the same minimalist design and only the camera lens sticks out. The lens itself is recessed so there's no risk of scratching the protecting glass, but we ended up leaving a smudgy finger over it ever too often, as the handset is so small. There's no flash or a self-portrait mirror.

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Minimalist back panel with bulging camera lens

Speaking of small, holding it in hand will give you a nice perspective.

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The handset is really compact by any standard

Back to the rear panel, opening the battery cover with a simple slide unveils the standard Samsung Li-Ion battery with a capacity of 800 mAh. The battery is quoted at 300 hours of standby time and 4 hours of talk time. In reality the battery will give you a good 4 days of moderate use.

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Removing the battery cover • the Li-Ion battery • SIM card slot

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