Someone at Samsung must be really fond of the Soul design and, honestly, we can see why. How we feel about it is not the point though. The Soul looks are spilling down the company portfolio, like it or not. The latest incarnation - Samsung S7330 - packs in stylish exterior, well-rounded feature set and a moderate price tag. And what sounds like a good recipe already is spiced up by the yet exotic touchpad. No news so far, but knowing what to expect can actually turn hard on the S7330. Users will feel entitled to more than passable performance, so let's see if it delivers.
The S7330 may as well be noteworthy for marking a shift in the Samsung naming patterns. It is the first model by the South Korean manufacturer with a four-digit model designation (the rugged B2700, M3510 Beat and 8510 INNOV8 follow suit).
Making the best of a successful design is a legitimate behavior. The Soul looks are worth continuing but too much copycat might easily result in less focused products. We, for one, had a hard time identifying some certain and immediate competition for the S7330. Of course, that doesn't mean an alternative is nowhere in sight. If you're after 3G (not necessarily HSDPA), same screen size and similar imaging capabilities, you'll be looking at quite a range of options. And sometimes, there'll be extra stuff at the same or even lower price.
Before we start exploring the options, Samsung U900 Soul is the definitive alternative if you aren't tight on cash. The more lavish version of S7330 carries a 5 megapixel camera, and the same touchpad. Having reviewed the U900 ourselves, we can confirm that its camera is one of the best there is on the market.
Sony Ericsson have two similarly-priced handsets to offer. The Sony Ericsson K850 is older but a classic, and a Cybershot after all - while the rugged C702 is a fresh addition with some interesting extra features. They both pack decent cameras and their screens are as large as the one in Samsung S7330. In addition, their interface seems to be more user-friendly and fluid. You can still get used to both, so it's mostly a matter of personal taste.
The Nokia offerings in this class also seem quite tempting. The already released Nokia 5610 is a music slider, while the 6600 comes in two flavors - slide and fold. They all look pretty stylish and, much like the two Sony Ericsson handsets, have comparable feature packs to Samsung S7330.
Definitely cheaper but exciting enough in terms of design and interface, LG KF600 is also worth having a look at.
Samsung S7330 is clearly in for quite a challenge. The price tag will be decisive here, and we can't ignore the fact that at 300 US dollars price point users can go for a juicier spec sheet.
Anyway, it's more than obvious that the slick Soul exterior is a strong enough selling point. We're back exploring it after the jump.