The Samsung S3500 feels compact and solidly built, there are no creaks or wobbles and has just the right weight. The 2.2" 16M-color QVGA screen is the same as the one on the Samsung U900 Soul.
As you will see the Samsung S3500 is an almost exact copy of the Soul - only without the touchpad and the 5 megapixel camera. Samsung are obviously still keen to cash in on the popularity of the Samsung Soul. Yet, we cannot help but wonder whether the world needs another one of these sliders with no real character of their own.
Unfortunately the alphanumeric keyboard is not as good as the one on the U900 Soul so heavy texters will want to look elsewhere; however, for regular use it works just fine.
The 2-megapixel camera is on the top part of the slider. There is no flash to accompany the camera, just a self-portrait mirror.
The microSDHC card slot is hidden away under the battery - so no hot swapping - but the phone supports up to 8GB cards, which is easily enough for a sizeable music collection.
Young people who want a stylish, capable music phone but don't want to pay over the odds for it will be interested in the Samsung S3500.
Although there is no audio jack on the device itself (headphones go into the proprietary connectivity port) the phone supports streaming stereo sound over Bluetooth. And you can also get an adapter with a standard 3.5mm audio jack if you want to use your own headphones.
The Music player can sort songs by artist, album or genre and even keeps track of the most played songs. If you need more flexibility, creating playlists on the phone is a breeze.
The FM radio is capable too with RDS and broadcast recording. It even supports the setting up of reminders, which switch the radio and tune it to a predefined frequency so you won't miss your favourite shows. It would have been great if you could set up those reminders to automatically record the show, but sadly no.
If you have the Music player or FM radio running in the background a bar shows up at the bottom of the home screen that displays the currently playing song (or RDS info) and lets you control the music with the D-pad.
The user interface itself is nothing special but the new Flash-based themes really help to liven things up a bit. And with the built-in theme creator, you can have a different-colored theme every day. Unfortunately, new themes cannot be downloaded as none of the Samsung feature phones support third-party themes.
Something that would appeal to young people is the Bluetooth chat application. It allows you to seamlessly send texts over Bluetooth to other compatible handsets. Compatibility however may be a problem. For example, the Nokia 5310 didn't recognize the .vnt files that the application sent but if you send them back, they appear as valid messages. So your mileage with the feature may vary depending on who you are sending the messages to and which phone they have. As far as we know most LG handsets support this feature as well.
The two-megapixel camera of the Samsung S3500 is nothing to write home about. It only has fixed focus, but does offer digital stabilization. Not many settings are available and almost all of them are accessible from the viewfinder or the number keys. The phone does multishot and panorama too but the resolution on both is limited to QVGA.
Video recording is also limited to QVGA resolution.
Here are several camera samples by Samsung S3500.
The Samsung S3500 is a looker on a budget. Though it's nothing original, it can count on some of that Soul charisma. The camera performance is nothing special either, but the music player and FM radio perform well. Given the right price, Samsung might well have another bestseller on their hands in the tradition of the Samsung E250 (which followed on from the high-end Samsung D900 but was considerably cheaper).