Samsung S5560 preview: First look
The latest implementation of the TouchWiz user interface is what brings the Samsung S5560 to life. Colorful, lively, and pleasantly thumbable - this TouchWiz reincarnation has inherited all the virtues of its predecessors and adds some interesting new stuff, all of which we've had the chance to experience on a number of recent Samsung touchscreens.
With the S5560 you get three different non-scrollable homescreens that you can alternate by sideways sweeps. The current selection is indicated by three small boxes at the bottom of the screen.
You can fill up each of those homescreens with as many widgets as you like. Also you get three separate wallpapers that are actually three parts of one single panoramic one, just like on the Samsung S8000 Jet.
In case some of you have missed it, widgets are nifty mini-apps that reside on your home screen. Some of them seem to have more purpose, such as the calendar and world clock, image gallery or the mp3/radio players, while others range from fun to pointless.
Traditionally, all the widgets are stored in a vertical tray running down the side of the screen, and you can roll them in and out as needed using the small arrow in the lower left corner.
You can pick which widgets to display by simply dragging them onto the display and placing them where you want. If any need to be removed, you simply drag them back to the tray.
There's a tab at the bottom of the display, which holds the three contextual keys with varying functionality according to the currently active menu.
The Samsung S5560 UI also offers some nice animations and transition effects.
The new main menu is now rearranged to match the one on the Samsung Jet. It stretches over three different screens, which are sweep-scrollable sideways. That way almost all apps are accessible straight from the main menu, arranged in a flat iPhone-like structure. You will only need to dig deeper for the settings.
Following in the footsteps of Samsung S5600 Preston, S5230 Star and the S8000 Jet too, Smart Unlock on the Samsung S5560 allows users to not only unlock the phone but open a menu item or an application - even dial a contact - just by drawing a letter on the unlock screen.
Each letter from A to Z can be set to trigger one of those actions. For instance, you can use it to start features like the music player, messaging, web browser, Java apps or the dialing keypad. It also makes it a piece of cake to call some of your favorite contacts without even needing to unlock the phone.
Finally, the main menu hides the new Photo contacts feature. It uses a fake 3D environment and shows up to 8 contact pictures in an arc. You can scroll them up and down and dial the one you want. It's a rather fashionable interface, but we doubt that it will turn out to be practical in everyday use.
The new Samsung S5560 has three different methods of text input. The first one is the traditional thing - typing on a customary (albeit virtual) 3x4 alphanumeric keypad.
Tilting the phone on its side automatically converts that keypad to a full-fledged on-screen QWERTY keyboard. The 3" display provides enough space for this layout, especially given that the number keys and symbols are in a separate screen that toggles on and off upon a tap. Typing is generally comfortable by touchscreen standards.
The final option is to use the stylus and write the letters on the screen. In general, handwriting recognition is good and got our scribbling right a lot of the time. You have to alter your handwriting a bit, of course, because recognition software is always a little sensitive about how you write the letters.