The Samsung H1 touchscreen phone is less glamorous-looking than some of its black-cloaked counterparts (it comes in black if you prefer that to the silver we tested), but don't be deceived: it's got some impressive tricks to offer.
First up is the Samsung H1's amazingly bright 3.5in Oled (organic light-emitting diode) display. The H1 has a QVGA resolution on which its 16.7 million shades of colour almost literally sing.
This can make the onscreen icons of the phone's interface seem overly bright at first, but makes more sense when you scroll through the photo gallery or view a video.
It also has a haptic screen. When you type a text message or email on the Samsung H1, you get responsive feedback. It feels like the physical ‘bong' when you hit a xylophone. (This haptic response is the same on some of the Sony Ericsson business phones or other feedback phones.) You don't to press at all hard - you can use a lighter touch than with an Apple iPhone or the RIM BlackBerry Storm.
Then there are less obvious functions such as the visual presentation of available networks. Choose Wi-Fi from the scrollable alphabetical list of apps on the device (a sensible approach given the sheer number, though pressing the right-hand hardware key presents them as an icon-based list instead) and you'll be shown an arc emanating from your phone and where nearby Wi-Fi routers are located and their relative strength. A Wi-Fi-jacker's dream, but also useful for seeing whether you're on the most suitable network and switching if not.
The Samsung H1 offers GPRS and 3G too, a 5Mp camera and has an impressive 16GB memory. Although we weren't sold on the pixellated background on the Nacho Libre video clip on the sample handset Vodafone provided, the sound is excellent and the entertainment credentials are bolstered by £3-a-month unlimited music streaming and DRM-free Vodafone Music Store.
Keeping in touch is easy. The Samsung H1 is the 'hero' handset for Vodafone's 360 blogging and connectedness service. This brings your most-used contacts to the fore so they are easier to find. Their status and availability is indicated by a coloured dot by their entry and you can cycle through contacts using a 3D effect Rolodex.
These are colour-coded according to whether they are friends, colleagues, business contacts, family and so on. Another notable aspect is that the Vodafone 360 service makes use of geo-location information and the GPS of the H1 to show where people are. Depending on the settings you - and they - assign, it can be used to help you find each other in a crowd (think Glastonbury, a New Year's Eve gathering or a business conference).
The Samsung H1's t9 predictive text option allows for fairly brisk email composition. While the autocorrect doesn't cover more than a word at a time (keep typing on an iPhone or BlackBerry and they'll invariably make sense of what you thought you were writing), the word suggestion list above the onscreen keyboard is a great help. Press on one to apply it to correct or auto-complete your typing.
As with many of the other phones here you can compose a message and decide once it's written whether it's to be a text message or an email. Just choose the Messaging option on the main screen. SMS is the default, so you need to use the abc button to switch to entering an email address, but we liked the way we then received a sending message confirmation and were shown that it had been sent. You can search and sort through emails sent, received and in draft and can 'favorite' contacts or email addresses without the person needing to be in your address book.
The web browser is Vodafone-branded but you can direct the browser where you wish by overwriting its default myweb.vodafone setting and entering another URL. Bookmarks can be assigned via the separate Web Player app too.
Having arrived at a web page, touching the screen to scroll down brings up a mini thumbnail preview of what's lower down, while double-tapping zooms in to it. Onscreen navigation is fast. Run your fingers over a selection and headline links to separate stories are pulled out so you can choose which web link to follow. As with almost all the devices here, the H1 recognises when it's turned on its side and automatically reorientates the screen.
The best way to experience this is with the fun drift-racing game Asphalt 4 that comes on the Samsung. This makes ample use of the accelerometer that detects the phone's orientation, incorporates the haptic feedback and also shows off the audio which, even without amplification, is loud but clear. For the radio feature you must plug in earphones to act as the antenna.
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