Samsung S7350 Ultra s review: Sliding into place
Organizer and a speedy document viewer
The Samsung S7350 Ultra s calendar offers three views - daily, weekly and monthly. There are five types of events available for setting up: appointment, anniversary, holiday, important and private. The Calendar can store up to 100 events of each type, but the 15 character maximum for event title is an undue limitation.
There are five alarm slots on Samsung S7350 Ultra s. Each of them can have its own snooze time, number of repetitions and activation days.
Among the other offerings are the voice memo recorder, a world clock application, a calculator, and a unit convertor. A countdown timer and a stopwatch will probably appeal to sports-minded users. There is also a handy to-do manager that can help you organize your time better.
A helpful feature is the Smart search - it searches both internal and external memory by filename. This means finding all your documents is as easy as typing '.doc' for example. It even offers a list of saved results, to which you can add items. What lets it down is that you can't add all the items in the search to that list, unless you do it one by one, and (strangely) it cannot search for folders.
The final application worth mentioning in the Ultra s is the integrated document viewer. It supports viewing MS Word, MS Excel and PDF files and handles them all pretty well. The application is very fast and generally a pleasure to work with. It has nothing to do with the scrolling and zooming of some other Samsung handsets that take ages on each step.
GPS for geotagging, not so much navigation
One of the cool features of Samsung S7350 Ultra s is its built-in GPS. A-GPS is also supported for faster initial satellite lock. Unfortunately, Samsung have decided to remove the Samsung Mobile Navigator (a rebranded Route66) application we saw in the early version we previewed.
In its place is an old acquaintance, Google Maps. It's been around for a while and its feature list still doesn't include voice-guided navigation. It's quite useful but its potentially biggest flaw is that it needs real time over-the-air download of maps. This entails heavy charges if you aren't on a flat data rate. The cool part is that recently Google added Street view to their mobile application, and that certainly is one of our favorite Google Maps features.
We gave several 3rd party Java alternatives a shot - ones that are touted to offer voice-guided turn-by-turn navigation. In our experience, Java software is always a hit-and-miss and this was the case with the S7350 as well.
If you picked the 7350 Ultra s expecting to get a flawlessly working GPS navigation device you'd most likely be disappointed. So unless Samsung changes their mind and decide to offer the Mobile Navigator as an option to Ultra s owners, you'll have to do without the navigation stuff.
Games on trial
The Samsung S7350 Ultra s offers a long list of game titles but the fact that they are all trial versions leaves little room for excitement. This is hardly an unusual move from Samsung; in fact, it's become the norm.
Just for the record, the titles include Brain Challenge Vol. 2, Brick Breaker Revolution, Diamond Twister, Pyramid Bloxx, World Series of Poker and Who Wants to be a Millionaire.
If you want to stay away from the touchscreen excess but not loose out on features, the Samsung S7350 Ultra s just might be it. The interface uses pleasantly animated themes, which though not readily skinnable, are nicely done to match the handset.
What hides under the stylish brushed exterior of the slider is very satisfying. The camera has plenty of options and produces great photos despite lagging a bit behind in the megapixel race. DivX/XViD support and the 2.6" screen can sure help kill an hour or two. The document viewer is always a plus and the elegant looks of the Ultra s make it a phone you won't be ashamed to use after a business meeting.
A couple of things let it down however. The lack of Wi-Fi might not mean much to some people, and though the browser is nice but it has its quirks. The lack of proper GPS navigation software can also be a deal breaker for some.
The midrange offers plenty of phones to choose from and it's a personal choice of what trade-off to make in terms of features. If the camera takes priority over voice-guided navigation, the Samsung S7350 Ultra s will definitely make it to the shortlist.
The Nokia 6260 slide is more compact but has a bigger resolution of 320 x 480 pixels on its 2.4"16M-color TFT display. It also offers the two things the Ultra s doesn't - Wi-Fi and navigation via Nokia Maps. On the other hand, video recording is limited to VGA@30fps, there's no DivX support and it's a bit more expensive.
A second Nokia slider that has a special place in our hearts just got thrown in the 5 megapixel action and can hope to steal some of the Ultra s market. The updated Nokia 6600i slide sure lacks the D1 video recording and screen estate of its Samsung competitor but looks and handling make it a real gem. However there's no Wi-Fi, DivX support and a document viewer, and the screen is noticeably smaller, which the price tag is certainly not on the small side.
Another contender is the Sony Ericsson C903. It's a capable shooter with Wayfinder Navigator and TV-out (but no DivX). As with the other devices, it lacks a 3.5mm audio jack and uses the less popular M2 cards.
Finally, the bar-shaped sibling S7220 Ultra b is worth a look as well - both are almost evenly matched. And if it all comes down to looks the OLED screen of the Ultra b is quite a catch.
So, somewhat quietly, Samsung have revived their Ultra lineup. Quite obviously it's not a matter of ultra thin any more, nor is it the high-end experience and design that made the Soul a landmark device. But having checked both the S7350 Ultra slider and the S7220 Ultra candybar, we'd say usability, elegance and skill are the new Ultra keywords.