Samsung E950 review: Еccentric slider

GSMArena team, 21 August 2007.
Pages: 1234»

Tags: Samsung, Touch UI

Visually appealing, the Samsung E950 is a feature-rich handset that takes Samsung’s idea of touch sensitive interface one step further. Fitted into a compact slider body you get a 3 megapixel camera, microSD card slot, FM radio, stereo Bluetooth and a 2” TFT display with a QVGA resolution. The handset is equipped with a novel input solution – a dedicated touchscreen that serves as a navigation D-pad. That feature alone was enough to get us itching with impatience to lay our hands on one of those phones. Join us as we explore the Samsung E950 slider.

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Samsung E950 official photos

Key features

  • Unique touchscreen navigation solution
  • Compact size and weight
  • 3 megapixel camera
  • 262K color TFT display with a QVGA (320x240 pixels) resolution
  • Bluetooth with A2DP
  • microSD memory card slot
  • FM radio
  • TV out
  • MS Office documents viewer
  • Data cable and a 512MB card included in the retail package
  • Nice web browser

Main disadvantages

  • Touchscreen navigation sensitivity is dodgy
  • Camera lacks autofocus and produces average quality photos
  • Office documents viewer is slow
  • Choppy animation in the main menu
  • Java applications can be installed only through WAP
  • Only preset message ringtones

The Samsung E950 is obviously the successor of last-year’s Samsung E900. Both handsets feature full touch sensitive navigation throughout the phone’s interface. Besides being among the first handsets with touch-based navigation, the E900 failed to impress with technical specifications when compared to the other high-end Samsung handsets at the time. The same holds true for the E950 now. Samsung have more advanced handsets currently, so we guess the E950 will mostly count on exciting technology (unique touchscreen pad) and fashion appeal (this baby just looks great).

Having had our deal of Samsung reviews in the past month, we were still excited to see how far Samsung would go with that touch-pad, touch-screen and touch-everything extravaganza. So, we got busy with an early pre-release version of the Samsung E950.

Perhaps this is the right place for a little disclaimer. Being a pre-sales piece , our Samsung E950 suffered from some serious bugs. We do hope though they‘ll be fixed in the retail version .

You know the drill

The Samsung E950 measures 98 x 46 x 15 mm, which doesn’t make it the slimmest slider currently available, but in terms of size the Samsung E950 is pretty compact and even light. The mobile makes good use of metal and matt black plastic. We like the design and the construction itself seems pretty solid. Thanks to the touch-sensitive elements on the front panel, the surface is smooth and there are no keys sticking out. The touch-sensitive navigation display is inside a silver frame at the lower end. A slight recess above the display nests the earpiece.

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Samsung E950 makes good use of metal

When the handset powers up you will see that the touchpad display has red backlighting and white fonts unlike the one shown on advertisements (black with white fonts). Personally, we don’t like the choice of red for the backlighting. Our guess is that they used it to match the dark red styling of the user interface, but, who knows…

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Samsung E950 lighting all up • the red touchpad display looks strange

The alpha-numeric keypad is really flat, but keys are large enough and have sufficient press feedback, so typing is easy and precise.

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The keypad is really flat but comfortable enough

Visually appealing, the Samsung E950 is a feature-rich handset that takes Samsung’s idea of touch sensitive interface one step further. Fitted into a compact slider body you get a 3 megapixel camera, FM radio, and Bluetooth. The handset is equipped with a novel input solution – a dedicated touchscreen that serves as a navigation D-pad.

The left side of the handset features the volume rocker and the universal port for plugging the charger, the headset, and the data cable. Samsung don’t offer a 3.5 mm audio jack or even an adapter which is a definite downside, since the originally included headset isn’t always the best there is. The same port is used for connecting the TV-out cable – the availability of this cable in the retail package is region dependent and you might end up buying one separately in order to use the TV-out feature. In the upper corner of the left side you will also notice a wrist/neck strap eyelet.

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Left side offers a volume rocker and a universal connectivity port

The bottom and top sides of the handset are completely bereft of controls. On the top however you will notice the fine brushed texture of the metallic parts of the Samsung E950. More of that is to follow when we review the back panel. The right side of Samsung E950 sports an On/Off key and the dedicated camera release button. The On/Off key can also be used to unlock the handset when the slider is closed or even wake up the touch-sensitive keypad if you let it turn off.

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Bottom and top parts are free of controls • On/Off key and the camera key on the right

The back panel looks great – the metallic finish is remarkably tasteful and pleasant to the touch. As usual with sliders, the camera on the back is only revealed when you slide the handset open. The camera module sits next to a self-portrait mirror and a LED flash. The metallic back panel features a really stylish loudspeaker grill.

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Wonderful back styling • the camera comes with a mirror and a LED flash

Releasing the back panel is an easy task – slide it up and there it goes. The battery cover doesn’t seem to hold firm enough, but it should do its day-to-day job just fine. Removing it reveals the battery, the SIM card holder and the memory card bed. The microSD memory card bed is hot-swap enabled – you can exchange cards without turning the phone off. The Samsung E950 features a pretty much standard Li-Ion battery with a capacity of 900 mAh. So far, there is no word from the manufacturer on the expected battery life, and we can’t tell for sure. In our hands it lasted no more than a day, but that may well be attributed to our test handset being a pre-sales unit. Or best guess is that the battery will keep the E950 running for around 3 days when used moderately.

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Removing the battery cover • you can see the SIM and memory card beds

Using the Samsung E950 was generally a nice experience. The sliding mechanism was not the best we’ve seen, but we are pretty confident that it will change in the final retail version. It was as if the handset had “beta version” written all over. Nevertheless ignoring all the little bugs, it gave us a pretty clear idea of how the final product will work and feel. Speaking of feeling, holding Samsung E950 is a pleasant experience – it fits great in your hand, there’s no trouble sliding it open or closed with your thumb.

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Samsung E950 held in hand • the design is sleek, when you open it

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