Speaking of flips, the two screens can be both a curse and a blessing. Well, except for those ultra low-end clamshells, which don't even have an outer display: blessed are the meek… Yes, we've come to regard the smaller external screens on clamshells as a necessary evil. But hey, you can't fight evolution. The first one to try and show what we'd been missing was the RAZR2 V8 with its great secondary screen - same resolution, only 0.2" short of the main display.
Samsung G400 Soul though is truly spoiling flip users. What we have is two equal displays - both in terms of resolution/size and colors supported. On top of that, the outer screen is sweetly touch-enabled all over!
The external touchscreen proves great for launching and controlling the assigned applications. So much so that its limitations don't seem such a burden: you don't get full control over phone settings and navigating the menus, the way you would with the phone flipped up.
The external display default view • the applications accessible via the display
Talking of settings, each of the two displays amazingly has its own dedicated settings for the home screen, wallpaper, themes, brightness and backlighting. Haptics are the final extra that adds to the excitement.
OK, a sobering note: the sunlight legibility of the external display is disastrous, due to the mirror finish and less intensive backlighting. It's extremely hard to see the text under the icons outdoors.
Tapping an icon triggers amusing wave-like effects • changing wave effects and icon colors is a nice extra • wallpapers can be set as well
You can choose among four types of home screen layouts - two digital clocks with a date, one analog clock, and calendar view.
The different types of home screen layouts with the calendar view on top
Remember the LG Secret Touch Media interface? Here in Samsung G400 Soul, things don't differ much. The G400 Soul's outer touchscreen functionality is limited to multimedia: music player, FM radio, camera and album.
The camera interface is definitely our favorite but we had enough on that in the camera chapter of this review. Feels like time to pay due respect to the music player. We quite liked managing music via the external display - the menu icons are big and comfy; settings are intuitive and nicely at hand with icons and labels. The options and settings are exactly the same as when you're using the regular interface and the main display to control the player.
The music player and its settings are handled the same way as on the main display
Here's how the settings and sound effects are presented
The album interface is also quite up to scratch. The image zooming touch control is more natural and you can drag and pan the image as much as you like.
The album works great too on the external display • zooming and moving an image with simple sweeps is possible with the external touchscreen only • large font pop-ups help handle images via the touchscreen
Finally, let's look at how calls are handled with the external display. An incoming call can be rejected but cannot be answered. You can also call back in the case of a missed call, but when connection is established an "open flip" message will prompt you to open the clamshell to talk.
An incoming SMS cannot be read and that's our greatest disappointment with the external display functionality. If the phone has been locked with the hold key, you will see different images each time you wake it up, which is quite a nice option actually.
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