Samsung G400 Soul is equipped with a 5 megapixel autofocus camera with maximum image resolution of 2560 x 1920 pixels. Interestingly, the camera is intended to use with the flip closed and controlled via the external touch sensitive display. You can also use the camera with the flip open, with the internal display serving as a self portrait mirror.
The camera interface in the internal display very much resembles that of Samsung U900 Soul. The settings and the other controls are a bit complicated as usual but the extended features make up for that.
Some of the more important settings are picture size, shooting mode (single shot, multi-shot, mosaic, and frame), effects (black and white, sepia, negative etc.), white balance and face detection. The face detection feature itself works pretty well and is even capable of recognizing several faces simultaneously.
The additional camera settings include wide dynamic range, anti-shake, picture quality and ISO settings. Exposure metering is also configurable and the auto focus can be switched off if necessary.
Before proceeding with our impressions of the image quality we will show you how well the external display works for the camera handling. When the phone is closed the camera can be activated via the dedicated camera key, or through the dedicated icon on the multimedia menu on the screen. The top of the display shows the current camera settings, such as camera mode, storage, image resolution, flash status, white balance, ISO, etc.
A single tap on the display will bring up additional icons for extra settings such as exposure compensation, mode, options, album, back and zoom.
The settings bar at the bottom lets you control all the camera options using the icons with tiny labels. When you hit options you get to shooting mode, size, flash, timer, face detection and effects. Scrolling down will reveal white balance and the viewfinder mode.
Generally we are more than pleased with the interface as it is quite intuitive and comfortable to use, thanks to the ample icons with labels and the touch sensitive display of course.
Enough on the interface, let's take our time and admire the lovely shots the 5MP camera is capable of producing.
The picture quality of Samsung G400 Soul is impressive. We're especially fond of the image processing, with balanced in-camera sharpening, low noise and remarkable scene detail. You would only see such results in … well, the U900 Soul. By the way, the occasionally noticeable red tint that Samsung U900 Soul suffers is clearly dealt with in G400. The wide dynamic range option doesn't help with highlights, but brings in quite a lot of detail in the shadow areas at the cost of somewhat increased noise. Our guess is that you can do the same in Photoshop CS with the Shadow/Highlight function, but anyway it's a good feature to have in your phone. Having it switched on permanently is not an option however. It doesn't do images any good in low contrast scenes anyway, and besides it keeps turning off every time you switch the camera off. Check out some samples from the Samsung G400 Soul camera.
Just to give you an idea of what those photos can turn out with just a wee bit of photoediting, here are some images downsized to 1024x768.
As far as video recoding is concerned, Samsung G400 Soul failed to impress. The highest resolution available is QVGA@15fps and that's a no-go these days, especially when recorded in 3gp format. The videos might turn out usable on some rare occasions anyway. We can't help our disappointment, as VGA recording would have been the icing on the cake for the G400 Soul's camera.
With the Samsung G400 Soul you can count on 3G with HSDPA support and GPRS for browsing internet on the go. No EDGE is a pity - it could've been a handy back-up for browsing in areas where 3G networking is not available. Leaving that aside, the 7.2 Mbps HSDPA is the quickest there is, so Soul users should count themselves lucky. Not that such speed is actually achievable but maybe in the years to come this will change.
In addition to the network connectivity options, Samsung G400 Soul also supports USB and Bluetooth, both version 2.0. There is also A2DP support. The phone works seamlessly when transferring data to and from PC. A notable enhancement to the Bluetooth File Browser service is the ability to make certain files or folders visible or invisible according to your needs. The USB connection has PC Studio, Media player and Mass storage modes. Each of them can be set as default or otherwise the user will be prompted for action upon connection.
The Web browser of Samsung G400 Soul leaves somewhat mixed impressions. We were glad to see a NetFront 3.4 web browser used, as we know what it is capable of. It turned out though its capabilities were seriously trimmed down in the G400 Soul. There is no landscape view mode and the page resize feature doesn't work all that well. When reducing the size, the font isn't handled properly and any text on the screen becomes compressed to being downright illegible.
There is also no trace of the mouse pointer we've been seeing in some of the recent Samsung and Sony Ericsson handsets that use the same version of the NetFront web browser.
On the positive side, pages are rendered well in both desktop and Smart-fit view mode. However, as mentioned, this only holds true if you are using the default page size.