Samsung S8000 Jet review: Airborne

GSMArena team, 08 July 2009.
Pages: 123456789

Tags: Samsung, Touch UI

Unboxing the Jet

The Samsung S8000 is a high-end multimedia handset, but comes with an almost standard package. There is the mandatory charger, microUSB cable, 2GB microSD card and a two-piece headset. Its remote ends on a 3.5 mm jack so you have quite a choice of alternative headphones to use with the phone. A bunch of leaflets and a CD with the latest Samsung PC Studio are also supplied.

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Unboxing Samsung S800 Jet the headset

The only extra thing you get with the Jet is a weirdly designed leather carrying case. It hides almost the whole phone except the speaker, mouthpiece and the 3D Cube button. The two call buttons positions are marked, so you can take calls without pulling the phone out. Of course there's no way to know who is calling.

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The weird carrying case

Samsung S8000 Jet 360-degree view

With a touchscreen device like the Samsung S8000 Jet the seen-one-seen-all impression can't be helped. The big screen on the front and the few buttons underneath are non-negotiable. This is a limitation of the form factor and makers are pressured to give their devices a distinct face.

For a phone aiming to make a big splash, the S8000 Jet looks and feels quite palm-friendly. At 108.8 x 53.5 x 11.9 mm and 110g, the S8000 Jet is a just about the same size as the LG KM900 Arena, but a few grams lighter.

Design and construction

As we said, the touchscreen form factor does limit the design somewhat, but Samsung still need to work a bit harder to distinguish the handsets in their own line-up. Their touch-enabled phones are beginning to look so similar that it's difficult to identify which one's which. Phones nowadays are not only about the features, but the style and the look as well.

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Size comparison: Apple iPhone 3GS, LG KM900 Arena vs Samsung S8000 Jet and Samsung S5630

The Samsung S8000 Jet front is quite sleek with black glass framing the display, while the surface around the buttons is made of a matte material that helps keep fingerprints away. However, apart from that area of the phone, the rest is so fingerprint-prone that at some point you may feel the need to get some tape and play at being a CSI agent.

The edge is bordered with a strip of glossy black plastic, which is quite nice and in fact is the only thing that really distinguishes it from other Samsung offerings.

The back, however, is unique and surprisingly stylish, yet at the same time a huge letdown as the glossy plastic attracts a lot of smudges. Anyway, the dark red and black stripes are shaded in such a way that any direct lighting creates interesting - holographic - effects.

The Jet's front of course is dominated by the display and the 3.1-incher beats the LG Arena screen by a whisker. And with a WVGA resolution of 480 x 800 pixels, the S8000 Jet punches its weight with other devices offering the highest resolution on the market. Now add the AMOLED technology that provides contrast, unrivaled by any LCD and you get the idea that with the Jet you receive top-notch image quality.

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Not the biggest screen, but pleasingly crisp and responsive

The only thing that stops it from being perfect is the resistive display. Or at least that was our first thought. But when we started tapping on the Jet's screen, we instantly forgot the technology behind it. As we already saw the same kind of display in our Samsung M8910 Pixon12 review we have no concerns about resistive displays used by Samsung any more.

It reacts to even the slightest touch just as a capacitive screen does, with the added bonus that you can use anything you want to interact with it - stylus, pencil, nails, gloves, etc. Writing, scrolling, typing, zooming - everything is as easy as on the capacitive screens of Samsung's M7600 and S8300.

Sadly, there is always something to spoil the deal and here it's the disappointing sunlight legibility. Performance in bright sun is the same as the Pixon12 and far from the best we've seen. Yes, you will be able to see most of the screen on a bright sunny day, but it's far from perfect and users will be struggling under direct sunlight. We know it's not the best part of a Samsung handset, but it shouldn't be make or break.

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The Jet screen beats the LG Arena's by 0.1"

There are three hardware buttons below the display - Call and End keys obviously and the center button. Now, that's where we see the major change compared to the pre-market unit we first tested. To begin with, the control now looks transparent like a gem cut into a cube shape. A 3D Cube it sure is but it doesn't launch the Cube launcher like we saw in the earlier Jet sample. A short press toggles the main menu on and off while a press and hold launches the Task Manager. So, that leaves the former task-switch knob (right next to the shutter key) in charge of the Cube Launcher and the Motion Gate.

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The buttons on the front are large and solid to press

The video-call camera and a slightly oversized ambient light sensor are above the display. Right next to them is the proximity sensor that takes care of turning the display off when you hold the handset next to your ear in a conversation.

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Video-call camera and ambient light sensor

On the left side of the phone is the volume rocker and on the right side are the hardware Lock (or Hold) key and the Cube Launcher/ Motion Gate / shutter key combo. The latter is not a single button as we've seen in a number of recent Samsung handsets but a rocker-style control where the shutter key is tangibly raised. This can be half-pressed to handle auto-focus. All controls are easy to operate in both single and two-handed use scenarios.

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One rocker-styled control on each side plus a hardware lock button

The top handles connectivity - it houses a 3.5 mm audio jack and a standard microUSB port with a protective cover. The phone charges off the microUSB port - just like most of its recent siblings - and is quite useful as you can leave the charger at home when traveling if you have a computer with you. There's nothing much to note at the bottom - only the mouthpiece is there.

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The microUSB slot, audio jack and the power button the bottom side

As usual, the 5 megapixel camera lens is at the back of the device along with the dual LED flash. It is not protected by a lens cover but there is a slightly raised edge surrounding it.

The back of the Samsung S8000 Jet also hosts the small loudspeaker grill, with a small nub so the speaker isn't muffled when you put the handset flat on a desk.

The lack of stereo speakers is a shame, especially given that otherwise the device is a very capable portable media player.

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The back is plasticky and attracts smudges, but still looks amazing

Under the back cover you'll find a 1080 mAh battery and the SIM and microSD card slots. Typically for the latest Samsung devices the memory slot is under the back cover and even though it's hot-swappable, you still need to open the cover first. If the S8000 Jet is meant to compete with the Arena successfully, it should have much more internal memory than 500 MB or at least a more accessible microSD slot.

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The microSD card slot is hot-swappable but under the rear cover

The build quality is quite solid. The rear cover is not held by any complicated lock but fits solidly in place and there are no audible creaks or other disturbing sounds. The front buttons don't wobble and have a very satisfying press.

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Samsung S8000 Jet in the hand

The Samsung S8000 weighs in at 110 grams and is very pocket friendly. It feels as good in the pocket as it does in the hand. With a size identical to the LG Arena it should find its place as one of the most compact multimedia devices on the market.

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