This may sound obvious, but texting teens love QWERTY keyboards as much as business users with BlackBerrys. Thewas a huge hit for Telstra, the was big at Boost Mobile, and the Samsung B3410 should find a niche for these tiny-thumbed texting machines.
From front-on the B3410 shares the same basic design as most Samsung phones in the last 18 months or so. The exposed earpiece speaker above the screen and the three mechanical keys below the screen look identical to those on theamongst many others. The B3410, however, is much thicker than most Samsung touchscreens, owing to the fact that the screen slides vertically to reveal the pièce de résistance, the full QWERTY keyboard.
To define a good keyboard is to identify a few key elements. Firstly, you want decent spacing and definition between the keys, and the B3410 has this. The keys are each quite wide and raised to a gentle hump, helping you to find one key next to another. You also look for a keyboard with a good physical response, we often call this "clickiness" because you want the keys to click when pushed and spring back. It's subtle, but the effect is to have the key push your fingers on to the next key, helping you to type quicker. Again, the B3410 passes this simple test, and overall we found the typing experience to be quite good.
The phone also features touchscreen input, though this isn't quite so good. Whether it's an issue with the screen or with the software, we found it difficult to accurately press buttons on-screen without slowing our movements right down. Luckily, Samsung has included a four-way direction pad on the keyboard which we deferred to for most menu and website navigation.
Around the edge of the phone you'll find the standard volume keys, camera key and a lock-screen key for deactivating the touchscreen. Two ports we found the B3410 missed though were a 3.5mm headphone socket for our favourite headphones and a micro-USB port for charging and/or connecting the phone to a PC. Instead, these tasks are performed through a proprietary port, which means you won't be able to use superior third-party headphones, and you wouldn't be able to share your charger with friends who don't use a Samsung.
The B3410 supports the functionality you can expect from most mobile phones, but for AU$199 don't expect much from each individual element. For example, the B3410's camera is a 2-megapixel model without a flash or auto-focus. The camera fires quickly, which helps offset the lack of auto-focus, with images captured in 0.6 of a second on average. This, however, doesn't help the image sensor produce any better than average photos, as the colours are washed out in our test shots and pixels are noticeable.