Samsung’s new Ultra range is designed to illustrate just how much technology they can fit into a slim phone design. So, whilst they’ve now got the skinniest candybar title, the slimmest HSDPA phone and a host of other accolades, they haven’t skimped on the specs. The D900 was the first of these to be launched, featuring a sliding design and measuring just 12.9mm in width. And yes, it’s the world’s slimmest slider phone. Available free on contract, it’s in the shops now.
It’s seldom now that you can pick up a phone that does something that’s truly new or unique to the brand. Cameras, MP3 players and office functionality are all present in the vast majority of phones on the market, to one degree or another. Any company that attempts to create something new risks straying over into the gimmicky territory occupied by novelty ringtones and crazy photo effects. So, with that in mind, I give you the Samsung theme screen. And I invite you to make up your own mind.
Basically, it features a home screen based on your geographical location, within reason. If you’re in England you get Big Ben. France? Champs d’Elysees. Holland? Hmm. You appear to have no iconic landmarks, so you’re stuck with windmills, I’m afraid. When you change countries, the phone recognises it and will change screens, as well as the local time. It does check with you first, in case you’re particularly attached to Big Ben. I’m not sure if the screen changes if you change countries but not time zones i.e. Dublin. Unfortunately, I can’t check for the purposes of this review, as I couldn’t clear a jolly to Dublin with the Powers That Be. C’est la vie. The screen also indicates the signal strength – lots of clouds, and you’ve got poor signal, clear sky, and you’ve got loads, as the shepards say.
The camera is also the best found on a slider phone at 3 megapixels, which takes stills and video footage. There is 60MB of internal memory to store your photos, as well as a MicroSD slot for expanding that. The screen is 2.1" which is noticeably larger than previous Samsung screens such as the one found on the E900. It also supports 262,000 colours, so is bright enough to take advantage of all the fancy pants graphics it comes with.
The buttons on this model are soft keys, rather than laser-etched, touch sensitive, or some other kind of nice-in-theory-awful-in-practice design. This makes them easy to use, although not as attractive. On another design note, the soft finish on the phone is a nice touch, and unlike many similar models, doesn’t get greasy after a few days. The inclusion of Stereo Bluetooth, means that you can use the MP3 player to send music to your bluetooth headphones, ditching the wires.
The camera is a key point on this phone – it’s the best available on this design of phone. However, despite offering 3 megapixels, it loses against the competition as it still appears as a camera phone, rather than something that you’d consider dumping your camera for. The light is LED, so doesn’t use a flash, making your subjects look odd in low light. Unlike many of it’s contemporaries, there is a limited number of things you can do with the photos once you’ve taken it. Yes, you can MMS it, and you can send it via Bluetooth to a printer, but there’s no extended applications, such as loading it onto a blogging site, which both Nokia and Sony Ericsson have included.
There are design issues as well. The battery is a nightmare to get out, and considering it hides the SIM card slot, it’s one of the first things you notice about the phone. The call answer/reject button are an old skool green and red, making the keypad look old fashioned, confirmed by the large buttons. The lip that ‘catches’ the slider at the bottom sits right against the *, 0 and # key, which is awkward when you’re writing a text, as these are the space and word change buttons.
Talk time: 390 mins
Standby time: 200 hours
Camera: 3 megapixels
Music support: MP3, AAC, ACC+, AAC+
In our opinion
On paper, the D900 looks great. But it’s once you take it from the box that you lose the excitement. Whether it’s the large screen which makes it look bigger than it is, or the green or red buttons that make it look old fashioned, designwise they seem to have let the fact that it’s thin excuse any effort on the rest of it.