There are only numeric keys on the bottom part of the phone. The top part is occupied by display and several control keys. The four-directional control button is dominating. Each direction is assigned to some of the traditional functions - camera, ringing tones, calendar access and messages editor. Unfortunately it's not possible to change the assignment, even if you consider ringing tone change as not important and you'd rather use the button to access the phone book or run your favorite Java game.
Center of this button is highlighted in blue and it starts the WAP browser. Fortunately you won't press this button by mistake whenever you open the phone, because a small rubber strip is placed under the display where you can put your thumb at rest. Just a short note about the way of opening, which is easier by Samsung comparing to other producers. You should just get over the initial resistance of the spring and then the top part goes by itself to the end. It's a big difference in comparison with e.g. Siemens SL65 where the opening goes quite stiffly.
Next you'll find two soft function keys, green and red earphones and a correction key "C" on the top part. These keys are sorted kind of randomly at first sight. I prefer previously used ellipse of jammed keys.
After entering the main menu a diehard Samsung fan may experience a heart attack. He will probably switch the phone off and check it from all sides to assure himself that it's really a Samsung phone and not some Nokia or Sony Ericsson - the menu is absolutely the same. The excellent animations known from former Samsung models are gone - the menu is formed as a matrix of nine icons, which are a bit animated. Next menu levels are in a text form; the way it was before. Of course you can select functions on any level by using numeric shortcuts.
Samsung and matrix main menu • next menu level style
You can save thousand of multi-item records in the phone memory. Add a phone book stored on a SIM card that is displayed simultaneously, and you get quite sufficient capacity. You'd certainly appreciate the growing number of phone numbers, which can be related to one person.
Display in standby mode • entering a phone number • dialing a number
So with every contact, besides the name and surname, you can have four phone numbers, one fax number, an email address and a text note. You can sort contacts to several groups, assign them special ringing tone and even picture. And with the integrated camera you can have an actual photo for every contact in the list.
You can search the phone book by entering name stepwise. Unfortunately it isn't possible to synchronize the phone book with a PC, the included program can load at once only the whole phone book or selected items to/from the phone. The ringing sound can play 64 voices, but melodies sound the same as with former Samsung phones. Either I am not able to tell the difference or the producer used old melodies, or growing number of voices has no impact.
Looking at the message menu you'll find that Samsung E800 can send, beside normal text messages, also MMS, that are becoming more and more popular. It's nothing to wonder about, a phone with an integrated camera, which cannot send an MMS would be a real shame.
Messages main menu
During text message writing the phone displays the number of remaining characters and also the number of message that you are currently writing. The phone supports T9 dictionary. You can set whether it will send messages in standard GSM alphabet or in a short length in UNICODE.
Text messages editor
Multimedia messages can consist of more pages, however total size can't exceed 100 kB, due to the restrictions from the GSM providers. Besides pictures MMS can also include sounds that you can record during message creation. As with Samsung E700 you can use this feature as a voice recorder, because you won't find such in the menu.
Multimedia messages editor
I miss the email client. Partially we can substitute this shortage by using the multimedia messages. Samsung offers to send a message (text, pictures and sound attachments) to an email address. Moreover we can insert up to twenty recipients. Unfortunately there is not way to compensate for the missing support of the POP3 protocol for downloading emails to the mobile.
The integrated camera can shoot in resolution 640 x 480 pixels only and cannot record a video. When you make pictures in dusk you can turn on a light diode to help. It's not a real flash, but it manages to light the night scenes after all.
Whether you'll use the diode or not, you have the possibility to choose from four different quality levels. Also special night mode and self timer are available, you can rotate pictures during shooting and also put them into funny frames.
Samsung takes pictures on width while the display is height oriented. How to deal with this situation? Most of the phones don't show pictures on full display but only in its center. Samsung has chosen the worse possibility: during shooting you see only a central crop and side parts are added to the picture after you press the release. Forget precise composition. Update 26 Jan 2005: Press "1" during shooting to fit the picture in the display (Thanks, Mark).
Taken scene is shown on full display • pictures gallery • picture detail
An interesting feature is the sequence shooting. Depending on selected resolution the phone can take up to fifteen of successive photos. If you get tired from normal pictures you can turn on some of the effects. It will help you to create grey, negative, sepia or outline pictures. There is 22MB of memory available for saving photos, which I find absolutely sufficient. Take a look at the samples and decide for yourself, but our opinion is that the quality of the photos is well above the average for a VGA camera.