With Samsung G400 Soul reminiscing of Moto RAZR is inevitable. Dimensions are almost exactly identical to the RAR2 V8, save for the thickness of course. The G400 Soul is lighter than the RAZR2 but, at 108 grams, remains a hefty piece that gives a solid feel in hand.
Quite a while, the Soul flip had us under the impression it's entirely made of metal. The metallic finish is there, no doubt about that - gloss up front and brushed at the rear - but essentially, it's all plastic underneath. We're not particularly fond of the mix of color nuances and surfaces that make up the exterior of the G400 Soul.
However, in terms of controls layout and ergonomics we like the Samsung G400 Soul. Topped with a very comfy - even if flatbed - alphanumeric keypad, it's way to go for Samsung.
In closed position, the Soul flip is a rare sight: do you dare call that external 2.2" touchscreen display secondary? All you get is a screen and the Samsung logo - nothing else is to be found here.
Flipping up will show you nothing you haven't already seen: the internal TFT display of QVGA resolution (240 x 320 pixels) totals 256K colors on a 2.2" diagonal. Above the display is the Samsung logo and the earpiece, the video-call camera alongside. The only bothersome thing here is that the open clamshell looks stunningly large - much like the impression you get when you flip Nokia N76 or the RAZ2 V8 up for the first time.
The flatbed keypad is a pleasure to look at and use. The rows of keys are demarcated by thin etched borders, while the central column is flanked by stylish metallic ridges. The D-pad and surrounding controls are integrated with the alphanumeric keypad in one unbroken layout. Both navigation and typing are very user-friendly. The ample comfortable keys offer great touch orientation as well. Tiny rubber knobs under the keypad serve as flip cushions to keep the display off the keyboard in closed position and get rid of the irritating keypad imprints on the screen.
The keyboard is backlit in relatively even and soft white.
When the flip is up, the 5 megapixel camera lens, which is placed on the hinge, is facing the user and can be conveniently used for self-portraits (bit not that comfortable for regular shooting). Next to the camera lens is the LED flash. In closed position, the camera is much more usable for shooting images - the external display serves as a viewfinder.
By the way, the external display can be used for viewing the images after pressing the album icon. The touchscreen functionality makes things even more convenient.
The left side of G400 features only the microSD card slot with a plastic cover and the lifted volume rocker. At the very top is the convenient lanyard eyelet.
The right hand side sports the universal port for charging, data and connecting the stereo headset. Next is the hold key, which locks the external display. The dedicated two-way shutter key is all the way down the bottom - perfect position for shooting with the clamshell folded.
The top and bottom feature no controls or functional elements.
The brushed metallic surface of the battery cover has another Samsung logo engraved and that's all you get rearside when the flip is up. Like we said, the camera lens is on the hinge and it's only visible at the back when the clamshell is folded.
The Li-Ion battery in our beta unit was of undisclosed capacity and Samsung haven't yet specified standby and talk time. We're unable to comment on battery life at this point for the limited time we spent with the handset. Suffice to say, a battery of over 1000 mAh will probably only do justice to this handset given the dual display set up and the large external touchscreen.
To wrap up, Samsung G400 Soul is one big flip but the ample outer touchscreen is a good enough excuse. Plus, the solid feel and comfortable handling are downright commendable. We did notice a minor flaw though and it concerns opening the clamshell single-handedly. There is no recess to use to effortlessly thumb the flip up. Additionally, the polished metallic casing causes the handset to easily slip off your fingers. The folding mechanism works like a charm though: the hinge holds softly and evenly to ensure a smooth flip open.