Samsung Z560 review: HSDPA flip take one

GSMArena team, 28 June 2007.
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Tags: Samsung

Call management

The call records part of the phone is divided in four sub-folders. The "Current contacts" is where the recent dialed, received and missed calls are gathered. There are also the Missed calls, Dialed and Received calls folders. In all four folders there is an option which shows the amount of times you have called or received a call from the same contact. There is also a data counter.

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Calls log: Current contacts • Calls log menu • Data counter

All types of messages

The SMS editor of the phone seems very practical and easy to use. It displays a counter of the characters left and starts the countdown from 1836 characters. It also shows the amount of separate messages that will be sent if you exceed 160 characters. Of course, there is a T9 dictionary to assist fast writing.

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Messaging menu • typing a message

Email messages cannot exceed the 1000 characters maximum capacity. There are two separate inboxes for the emails and the other messages. When you read a message it is displayed in 7 lines.

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Typing an email • editing an email account

Managing files and multimedia

The media player of the Samsung Z560 seems nice and has an interesting graphic visualization feature. The sound of the loud speakers is loud enough but unfortunately we couldn't notice the added benefit of the stereo speakers. In fact we find the loudspeaker sound of the competing Motorola maxx V6 better than the stereo output of the Z560. Unfortunately, there is no sound equalizer either. The supported file formats are MP3, AAC, WMA and AAC+. It also supports Playlists and ID3 tags which is a good thing.

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Audio player with different visualizations • audio player on the external display

Headphones can be connected via the connectivity port. The external music control buttons come very handy when running the player in background with the device closed.

The video player has pretty much the same controls as the audio player. A serious difference though is that they come out as an overlay on the video stream and they can be hidden - meaning that you can watch a video fullscreen with no controls visible. The video player has its drawbacks too - for example you cannot watch a video in landscape mode. The Motorola maxx V6 can play video in landscape mode but it's not much needed feature on a clamshell handset since it is uncomfortable to hold it sideways.

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Video player: controls on and off

The phone has approximately 20 MB internal memory and of course you can expand that with a microSD memory card. The file manager of the Z560 is pretty much standard. Different types of multimedia files are sorted in designated folders. The memory card appears as a separate submenu.

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File manager • memory card menu • detailed memory status

The pictures submenu for example has its own submenus too - you can scroll through them by using the horizontal ways of the D-pad. Browsing through images wasn't a very nice experience since there was a definite lag while doing so. Furthermore you don't have an option for different view modes such as list or large thumbnails. The only available view mode is the default one - a list with small thumbnails.

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Browsing pictures

An awkward camera…

The Samsung Z560 2 megapixel camera is equipped with autofocus. Unfortunately, the camera interface works in portrait mode only, but that is a something normal for a clamshell. The only good thing about it is that you can have the viewfinder work in fullscreen besides the regular window mode. When you use the viewfinder in the fulscreen mode, you cannot see the left and right edges of the picture.

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Camera viewfinder: windowed and fullscreen mode

The camera has various features and effects but lacks flash, macro and night mode. You can zoom in the picture by using the UP and DOWN directions of the four-way control key. The LEFT and RIGHT direction keys adjust the white balance. With "1" key you toggle between camera and video mode. "2" is for toggling among the available resolutions, "3" is for changing capture quality, "4" is for multi shot sequence capturing (up to 12 pictures), "5" puts various light effects, "7" shows frames and other picture effects, "8" is for the self-portrait timer and "0" gets you to the Images folder. When you press the "#" button you switch between full screen and windowed mode. The two-way volume button changes the orientation of the camera lens. The DOWN way works as a mirror as it flips the picture view mirror-like. The UP way flips the picture upside down.

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Camera menu: shooting modes • effects • photo frames

The photo quality is above average for a 2 megapixel camera and about average for a 2 megapixel camera with auto focus. Samsung Z560 takes really good macros; the lack of a dedicated macro mode is not a problem at all, just choose a macro subject and the camera will focus on it. The dynamic range is not bad for a phone and the indoor results are quite good. We didn't like much the colors of the outdoor photos, though.

Compared to its HSDPA rival, Motorola RAZR maxx V6, the Samsung Z560 wins even considering the lack of a LED flash. Keep in mind, however that the same feature, which gives a lead to Samsung Z560, can let you down - the auto focus is slow and not always reliable, you might miss a shot, which is otherwise easy to take with a regular non-autofocus camera phone. Taking proper pictures of moving objects or of people on a party, for example, is a challenge. Take a look at our samples but bear in mind that we present you only with the successful shots we made.

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In video mode the camera captures video at QCIF (176 x 144 pixels) resolution in 3GP format. We find that resolution pretty low for today's standards so we won't be showing you any video samples. In video mode there is no full screen option.

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