The M7500 Emporio Armani QVGA OLED display totals 256K colors on a 2.2" diagonal. The OLED screen is keen to impress in terms of brightness and contrast but we somehow feel the preinstalled Emporio Armani styled themes don't do it justice. As expected, performance under direct sunlight is not the best there is, but OLED displays are hardly known for outstanding sunlight legibility.
However, it's not the M7500 display that will attract attention but rather the glowing light effects you see on the side of the phone and the backlit music keys. They all glow in one of three different colors - red, blue or green. The lights are associated with themes, but are not entirely theme-dependent.
Changing the active theme will always affect the external light color but you also have direct access to the light effect settings so you can change light color independently. If you are not in the mood or you do not want to attract attention you can switch off the external glowing stripes and logos. Additionally, you have three levels of brightness of the external light to choose from.
The keypad of the Emporio Armani phone is made of black, nicely brushed plastic and is entirely flat. The only thing that sticks out is the large round D-pad. Don't get fooled, this is no scroll-wheel. But the round D-pad is a nice touch we think, on an exterior dominated by clean shapes and straight lines.
The superb tactility is an added gain. That actually applies to all the controls around the D-pad. There are two soft keys and, of course, the call and end keys, but the "C" button, which Samsung normally put in their phones, is not present here.
The keys are very comfortable despite being completely flat and you are unlikely to make any typing errors. Key press feedback is great and we think that the flatbed keypad on the Emporio Armani phone is not only a treat to look at but quite user-friendly too.
The backlighting is very even and strong. Even the D-pad ring is superbly illuminated.
As we already pointed out, the keypad backlighting is controlled by the ambient light sensor.
The M7500 Emporio Armani has the typical Samsung user interface. There are some minor changes, mainly in the themes, logos and screensavers, but that's all you get to distinguish it as an Armani-branded phone. We expected a much richer user interface to tie in with the branding, but that was it.
Quite unexpectedly, the major novelty affects usability rather than looks. A handy task bar accommodating 5 shortcuts to menu items and applications is available on the homescreen, along the lines of Nokia's active standby. The shortcut bar is customizable save for the last slot, which is always reserved for the external light setting.
There are four preinstalled themes in the handset but they offer little variety. All are Emporio Armani branded and all you can change is the color of the interface and the external light.
The main menu itself displays as either a V-shape or the more conventional 3x4 grid. The V-shaped main menu is another novelty for Samsung and we see it implemented here for the first time.
The default menu scheme is black and white icons on a colorful background, which is actually an angled Emporio Armani logo. The transition effects are rich but don't offer any novelty when compared to previous Samsung phones. Every next submenu you select smoothly slides in - or out, when you exit - a transition we've seen and liked in the original Samsung Soul.
You'd also be interested to note that the network indicator has the shape of the Emporio Armani logo.
The dialing display is also customizable by font type, size, color and background color -just as with every other Samsung phone we've used so far.
A nice touch is the basic task manager - the so called Application switch, which lets you quickly toggle between calling, texting, browsing and Java Apps. The Java apps section allows you to run several Java titles simultaneously.
The uncomfortable thing about the Application switch is that it can only be started with the camera key. There's a setting that allows you to use the camera key for only the task switcher, the camera or for both. The last options brings up a popup window every time you press the key.