Despite the touch-screen phone being a relatively new addition to the mobile world Samsung can already be considered seasoned pros of the technology. At both the low and high ends of the market the company have launched touch-based devices with a new handset seeming to hit the shelves every other month.
With their Tocco Lite pitched as an entry-level device and the Omnia winging for business phone users, the company is now hoping to hit the sweet-spot in between with the “smarter than a smartphone” Samusng Jet, a phone that claims to balance power with straight-forward functionality.
The main selling point behind the Jet is its 800MHz processor, which makes it faster than any of its rivals on paper at least. Beyond this the phone has an impressive 3.1 inch AMOLED screen, a 5 megapixel camera and a range of other functions one would expect with a modern phone.
As a result of the fast processor and quality screen watching videos is a dream, assuming your eyes are able for the naturally small screen size. The battery life is impressive too – one of the best to date for a touch-screen device – meaning you can do more for longer and not have to worry about finding somewhere to re-fuel.
The good looks of the screen are matched to some degree by the body of the handset itself, which is visually appealing enough to overcome the slightly cheap feel that comes with handling the phone.
Samsung’s approach to the menu and home-screen on the Jet is also appealing if not perfect, with both having three panels that can be scrolled through from left to right. Each of the three home screens can be customised with different wallpapers and widgets, allowing users to have a different one for work, home or whatever.
The menu screen, however, cannot be customised meaning that certain functions are harder to reach than others, while space is taken up by some of the lesser used icons on the first panel.
The Jet is laden with motion and touch-sensitive controls which aim to make controlling the device as easy as possible including a ‘smart unlock’, which allows you to unlock and instantly access a certain application based on the shape you “draw” on the screen. There is also built-in gesture recognition which allows you to jump to a pre-selected application based on the way you move or tap the phone.
Both features are little more than gimmicks, however, and do not really make controlling the phone any easier than traditional menu navigation. Some of the motion controls are useful, however, such as the setting that puts a call onto speaker automatically once the phone is laid down on a flat surface.Turning the phone face-down when a call is coming in also mutes it, which is a reasonable alternative to the physical mute switch which is sadly lacking.
However these kinds of minor details are only complimentary and will not make a bad phone good. Thankfully the Jet is a good phone, probably the best touchscreen device Samsung have produced so far. Its lack of customisation in some areas and the lack of any Samsung “App Store” holds it back from being great, though, but users can take solace in the fact that these can be fixed through simple software updates in the future.
The Samsung Jet is available on bill pay from Vodafone, O2 and Meteor from €139
An edited version of this review appeared in Business & Finance magazine in August 2009.