The phone part of Samsung F300 is made for common phone use. The first thing that will strike you is the pronounced size disproportion between keypad and display. A lot of space has been reserved for the keypad, which has resulted in its supreme quality. The functional part of the keypad is dominated by a four-way navigation key with a confirming center. Around it there is a pair of context keys as well as keys for start and termination of calls, a “C” correction key, and a camera key.
The keypad is so good that it has deserved a compliment from each member of our team. Numerical keys are distributed in compact horizontal bars, between which there is not much space, either. All keys respond confidently without giving any louder sound. They have low uplift, but their touch distinctiveness could have been better. Typing mistakes are very rare.
What you are not going to like is the small size of the display. You will be able to see only two lines of text, which can easily make you feel as if you have made a 10-year jump back in time. The TFT display measures 33 x 13 mm and shows 262K colors. Its resolution is 176 x 64 pixels, which, given the small size of the display, guarantees quite fine images. Legibility under direct sun-light is great. Colors are vivid. If the display remains inactive for some time, its backlight gets turned off. Missed events can only be checked by waking up the phone.
If you need more fun, flip the phone over and face the display on the opposite side. It’s way bigger and has a resolution of 176 x 220 pixels. It supports the same amount of colors as the small display. Images are smooth and fine; nevertheless, we think that a QVGA resolution on the surface of 33 x 42 mm would have suited this display better. The colors showed on the big display are as vivid as those on the small one.
Beneath the display there is a standard control button with a confirming center. In order to make the design of the phone’s multimedia side similar to the design of common portable players the manufacturer has decided to use a touch sensitive type of navigation. This choice does not seem to be the most suitable one, though. The touch sensitive keys are way too sensitive and thus their reaction to pressing is sometimes a bit delayed. The right and the left keys are used for moving within the menu in horizontal direction. The top key opens the context menu, while the bottom one sends you a level back.
Apart from using standard pressing, you can also control Samsung F300 by sliding your fingers along the edges of the sensor button in both horizontal and vertical directions. You may find this new option especially handy when you browse through the menu or open the context menus, but eventually you will see that it is not really fluent. The phone sometimes confuses sliding with presses. Stopping at the right item in the menu may be a challenging task too. The phone offers practical custom help, supposed to teach you how to work with the sensor button. Whatsoever, bear in mind that we have been testing a pre-market edition of Samsung F300. Sensor control in the final version of the phone could be much better.
The display on the “phone” side shows all necessary details when on stand-by. On the left you will see battery state, signal intensity, and the icon of the active Bluetooth. Time, date and weekday are all located on the right. The background of the stand-by display can be either white, or black, in accordance to the selected menu color. The display is not set to show images.
The main menu is accessed through the left context key. The right context key opens the phonebook. The main menu can only be shown in the form of a horizontal bar of icons. The icons are not accompanied by legends because of the lack of space. Sub-menu levels only contain text. Work in the menu is generally difficult due to the fact that there are only two visible lines. Like other Samsung models, F300 remembers the last visited menu directory and offers it as a priority one the next time the menu is accessed. The use of shortcut keys significantly speeds up menu operations.
The ways of the navigation key can provide instant access to one of the available 15 functions if set to do so. Not so comfortable is the fact that, on stand-by, the confirming center of the navigation key (which otherwise does confirm selection in the menu), opens the home page of the WAP browser, which automatically leads to the activation of the opposite side of the phone.
The multimedia part of Samsung F300 also has its menu, but its design is not really attractive, either; it contains 5 items: music player, camera, album, FM radio, and voice recorder. It does not feature many colors: just white icons distributed on a violet background.
After some time of inactivity the phone switches to power saving mode. The display switches off, no matter which side is active. Missed events can only be checked by unlocking the phone. Here you might face one important difficulty: you may not remember which side was last active so you will not know which display will light up. At the same time the phone can only be activated by pressing the button on the last active side. So prepare for inevitable frequent rotation.