Samsung U100 sports a horizontal TFT display with resolution of 220 x 176 pixels. Even though QVGA would have suited this display far better, it is still pretty good and worth a compliment. It features excellent colors (262K) of impressive brightness, saturation and contrast. The only problem here is the poor legibility in bright sun, but it gets partly resolved by the special Sunlight mode. This feature adjusts the color scheme, darkens or lightens certain colors, and brings brightness up a jot higher than the maximum level. Sunlight mode is activated from deep within the Settings menu. Bear in mind that it won't do nice indoors, in twilight or in no light.
Apart from the essential signal coverage and battery status, other icons may appear on the display to indicate GPRS/EDGE availability, roaming status, ringing profile, keypad lock, music player in use, etc. At the bottom of the display the functions assigned to the context keys are showing. Both color and font style are user-configurable. Any picture or animated image from the phone can be used as background. The phone has four clock layouts to choose from. Samsung's uGo application will update your background image to display a famous landmark of the country you're currently in. So if you're in the Czech Republic you'll be seeing The Old Town Square in Prague, or the Tower in Pisa if you are in Italy. What's more, the entire background image is animated: the sky gets overcast, then the sun comes back out, birds fly by during the day, buildings are illuminated at night, stars shoot across the night sky... There is also an option to set a permanent month view of the calendar to show on the stand-by display.
Three visualizations of the stand-by display
The left context key opens the main menu, while the right one accesses the phonebook. The directions of the D-pad can also be assigned optional shortcuts. Only the Up-key is fixed to launch My menu, containing up to four most frequently items. The Confirm key starts the WAP browser in stand-by mode. Again, we find this bizarre and irritating, but Samsung continue to produce their handsets with this inconvenient key setup.
Main menu: each item has its own color
A sample of sub-menus and other setup options
The main menu can be displayed as a 12-icon grid or as a list. The phone offers two color schemes: a stylish black one, where only the selected icons pop up in color, and a more playful, white one. We find the black version cooler, by far. On the other hand, the white one seems more usable under sunlight. The submenus only display as text and are controlled through the Left and Right keys of the D-pad. If you don't like this minimalist dropdown interface, you can choose to select an entry and access a full-size sub-level. Shortcut keys are available too. The phone responds instantly, except for the activation of the camera, which takes about 4 seconds.
A light graphic theme, a view at the main menu in the form of a list in the second image
The user should be aware of the different function of the Confirm key and the left context key. Both will open an item, but the Confirm Key simply selects, while the left context key also saves your selection to the phone memory.
As usual, we kick off with the phonebook. Samsung U100 takes up to 1000 multi-field entries. Each contact can be assigned first and last name, 5 phone numbers, email address, and a note. Moreover, images can be attached to each contact, callers filtered by using different ringtones. Contacts can be organized into groups too, but the groups cannot be used as call filters. Each group can also be assigned a particular image and ringtone. The phone displays all names simultaneously - both those saved in the handset memory and the SIM card. Searching employs gradual typing. The speaker's audio performance is very good, with maximum volume levels sufficient for comfortable use in a noisy environment. Deep inside the menu of Samsung U100 are the Hands-free and the voice recorder options. The voice recorder can be used in calls. .
Dialing a number - contacts are searched automatically • call register • phonebook menu
When dialing a number, it displays in a variety of font styles: fountain-pen handwriting, drinking-straw scribbling, or in the form of paper notes being pinned to a message board. If the dialed number exists as an entry in the phonebook, Samsung U100 displays a tag with the contact's name. That's a relatively new feature, as it lacked in the previous Ultra series.
Searching a name in the phonebook • a view of a particular contact • creating a new contact
Each incoming call can be muted or rejected. The reject-call-with-SMS feature is available. The call register displays up to 30 entries of each type (missed, received, and dialed). It also shows the number of multiple events from one and the same contact. Besides, Samsung U100 can display an itemized list of all incoming, outgoing, and missed calls, recipients of all sent messages and senders of all received messages.
Context menu for names in the phonebook • setup options for groups • speaking
Samsung U100 doesn't have 3G support; the presales piece we tested was designated for GSM 900/1800/1900 MHz networks. Another significant drawback is the absence of ringing profiles. Ringing profiles boil down to a quiet mode activated by holding the hash key. Incoming call alerts are user-definable. The options are: ringtone only, vibration and then ringtone, ringtone and vibration, or vibration only. Samsung U100 supports 64-channel polyphony, while any MP3 or AAC file can be set as a ringtone. Offline mode is also available, to use aboard airplanes for example. Bear in mind that this last option is illogically positioned deep in the Settings menu.