We should note before we get under way that the device we are working on is Vodafone-branded. Softwarewise the only difference to the original version is the web package - the web menu of our Samsung F700 is teeming with links to Vodafone online services. You will also notice that the Web browser icon has been swapped with a Vodafone one. So that's pretty much it - enjoy the review.
The Samsung F700 has a plastic body of rounded edges. The high-gloss materials and the chameleon paintjob do manage to pull off high-end looks. Just for the record, the Samsung F700 was originally known as Samsung Ultra Smart, but that name was eventually dropped.
The Samsung F700 measures 112 x 56 x 15.9 mm and weighs a good 139g. Overall, the F700 is a chubby fellow and that would be the first thing to notice when you see it for the first time. In fact, it's almost as big as the HTC TyTN II, which is anything but pocketable.
Above the display there is a video-call camera and a discrete earpiece grill. Balanced in design and proportions, the F700 features a grill at the bottom too - it hides the loudspeaker. The bottom part of the front also hosts the hardware key that opens the Croix shortcut cross.
More on it to come later, at this point we would only say that we prefer the F490 solution where the center key opens the main menu. The F490 also has receiver keys below the display, which makes call management so much easier.
The right side of the F700 is home to several controls. The hardware keylock enables or disables the touchscreen functionality. The volume rocker is here too, along with the dedicated camera key.
The right side of the F700 holds no controls at all. The bottom part has only a tiny pinhole for the mouthpiece. On the top we find both the universal connectivity port and the 3.5mm audio jack. The universal port is of the new type used in all recent Samsung handsets. Interestingly enough, if you plug a headset in the connectivity port and then a set of headphones in the 3.5mm audio jack, you will have sound output to both. What's more, the sound quality is one and the same, as we managed to confirm in our test - more on that later.
The back panel of the F700 looks dark blue on the following images, however it had the ability to change its color to dark violet or black depending on how light falls on it. Fancy, ain't it? All the same, it's all plastic and you would tell that straight away just by touching it. And, speaking of it, fingerprints are all over the place with this shiny cover.
The only highlight on the back of the F700 is the 3 megapixel camera lens and the accompanying LED flash.
The back panel gets easily removed - and you'd better learn to enjoy that. You'll be doing the drill quite often if you are the kind of person to load their memory card with files using a card reader. It's something we like to do - it's that much faster and offers compatibility that's beyond different cellphone platforms. But we digress.
The thing is the memory card slot is only accessible when the cover is off - it's still a hot-swappable microSD port though. The 1000 mAh battery of Samsung F700 is quoted at up to 300 hours of standby time and up to 4 and a half hours of talk time.
Honestly, we didn't like the bulk of Samsung F700. The slide-out QWERTY keyboard simply doesn't justify that lump in your pocket. But overall we are pleased with how the F700 handles - top-notch performance and great user-friendliness and ergonomics.
Samsung F700 combines smooth touch navigation and full text input capabilities with the QWERTY keyboard. The handset is fully operable through the large 3.2" 262K color display, with the QWERTY keyboard a nice enhancement to have at hand for some heavy duty typing. There's a virtual Multi Tap keypad providing a back-up input mode.
|"...The excellent overall performance of the QWERTY keyboard is further enhanced by the fast auto rotation. The screen switches to landscape as soon as you slide the keyboard out. Almost instantaneous, it's faster than anything a PocketPC can pull off..."|
Samsung F700 is not as good under direct sunlight as the industry top dogs - Nokia N-series handsets or the Apple iPhone, if you like a full touchscreen device. The fingerprint smudges don't help things either.
The F700 QWERTY keyboard is really comfortable - the keys have quality backlighting and enough elevation. They also provide nice press feedback so overall we are talking a really nice keyboard here. Only the top row is sometimes causing trouble, as it's really close to the edge of the slider, which hosts the display.
The excellent overall performance of the QWERTY keyboard is further enhanced by the fast auto rotation. The screen switches to landscape as soon as you slide the keyboard out. Almost instantaneous, it's faster than anything a PocketPC can pull off.