Samsung i7110 has rather friendly size for its class but this still isn't all too compact. It's a tall handset but the slim girth is welcome. Just as a reference, Nokia N82 is a good 5 mm thicker.
The weight of 125 g is about right for a phone of such build and features. It could have been lighter, had plastic been used instead of steel here and there, but we are glad Samsung didn't go for that. The metal elements on the exterior give the phone much better looking and more durable.
From where we stand, Samsung i7110 looks like an extended version of the U800 Soul b. Regardless of some apparent differences, the Soul influence is beyond doubt. We did like the little U800 and even though its chubbier brother isn't as sleek, we are still fond of its looks.
The front panel of the bar-shaped i7110 is dominated by the 2.6" 262K-color display of QVGA resolution. It has remarkable picture quality and relatively good legibility under direct sunlight. Contrast is superb, colors are vivid and brightness levels are more than adequate. As a whole, this is one of the best Samsung displays we've ever seen.
A video-call camera and the earpiece are above the display. There is hardly anything to note here, so we move on to the keypad.
Under the display, a solid and ample D-pad is flanked by six functional keys. The central confirming part of the D-pad is in fact an 8-way optical trackpad (yes, you can swipe diagonally). That nifty feature isn't much of a big deal, but it nicely improves navigation in the web browser, which has a mouse pointer.
The six functional keys around the D-pad are a real disaster on our pre-release unit. Two flat pads on both side of the D-pad accommodate the main controls, which are not separate knobs but mere indications of where on the pad to press to perform a certain action.
As a result, the Menu and Clear keys are the only controls that fare decently. As for the rest, a soft key is placed above a Call or End key, implying a rocker-like action of the control pads. That's where things are real bad. All those have such a flimsy press you can hardly navigate menus or make or end calls (not without pressing the C key or Menu key).
The D-pad also brings quite a lot of trouble. The Up and Down press is adequate but side-scrolling is a pain for the rigid frame and low stroke. Plus, it is almost impossible to avoid pressing the confirm button when scrolling sideways.
Things get even worse when the optical trackpad is enabled at the center of the D-pad. Touching the sides almost instantly makes the trackpad react and jump the selected icon sending you to the wrong menu again.
Truth be told, we were about to give up reviewing the i7110 over the dreaded navigation. We do know better though than jump to conclusions from a pre-release unit. It won't be the first time when we see Samsung change designs before the market release.
The alphanumeric keypad takes about a third of the front panel. It surely isn't the best we have seen in terms of usability but it is OK. The large keys and the borders between the different rows are some of the positive things to note. On the other hand, the press feedback levels are quite insufficient and the flatbed keys are somewhat hard to press. We do believe, though, that the keypad is one of the things you can get used to (as opposed to the controls below the display).
On the left of Samsung i7110 we find the volume keys and the proprietary USB port. The two buttons are large enough but quite rigid.
The right side is where the microSD slot, the camera key and the FM transmitter key are. Obviously the FM transmitter seemed important enough to Samsung engineers to deserve a dedicated key.
Both keys on the right side are comfortable to use and large enough to feel locate without looking at them.
The bottom of Samsung i7110 is completely plain with no functional elements whatsoever. The lanyard eyelet is the only thing to find topside.
The 5 megapixel camera lens is at the back of Samsung i7110. The dual-LED flash is placed right below it. The other thing of interest here is the loudspeaker grill in the top right corner.
The steel battery cover just pops up once you release the latch at its bottom. Under it is a 1200 mAh Li-Ion battery, same as the one found on Samsung i8510 INNOV8. This great capacity, combined with the excellent power consumption of the S60 3rd edition FP2 phones adds up to quite good performance. The Samsung i7110 can make it through 2 full days of real hard use and this is some achievement by our books.
The Samsung i7110 has remarkable build quality, at least as far as our first impressions show. The nice blend of rubbery plastic and brushed metal gives the phone a solid and exclusive feel. Handling the hefty handset is a pleasure, but the disastrous controls are a great setback. We really hope they fix those by release date.
The backlighting is really strong and even causing no problems with usage.
Well, Samsung i7110 hardly managed to impress us with ergonomics. Let's now check if the software part will manage to change our mind. Join us after the break as we get to know the user interface.