Samsung D900 review: Samsung D900

CNET Editors' Rating

3.5 stars Very good

Average User Rating

3.5 stars 17 user reviews
Review Date:
Updated on:

The Good Slim form factor; 3-megapixel camera; stereo Bluetooth; expandable memory.

The Bad Bottom row of keys is difficult to press; camera has a photo light rather than a proper flash.

The Bottom Line The Samsung D900 is not only slim but also comes with enough features to satisfy the most tech hungry of users. Overall, we're very impressed with Samsung's efforts at cramming cutting-edge features into slimmer and slimmer packages. The D900, however, is let down by the lip at the bottom of the keypad, which makes the bottom row of keys very difficult to access. It would also benefit from a proper flash

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The Samsung D900 follows in the footsteps of some of Samsung's best-selling phones. The D500 was an outright hit and the D600 is still going strong, so the D900 has a strong pedigree. It is also part of Samsung's new breed of thin mobile phones, the Ultra Edition range.

These are phones designed with pockets in mind, so unlike the D500 and D600, the D900 is very slim -- it immediately outdoes its predecessors with its size. It's certainly a feat of engineering, but this design flair is not present in every part of the phone. There are some ergonomic issues that we'd like to see resolved in the next generation.

The D900 is currently available at most of the major networks, free on contracts starting at around £30 per month.

Strengths
At just 13mm thick this phone doesn't create a massive bump in your pocket -- it's very similar in size to the Motorola Razr V3 . The screen on the front measures 32mm by 43mm and displays 262,000 colours. It's also bright, making it easy to read text messages and browse the Internet outdoors.

The layout of the front section of the D900 is like the majority of Samsung slider phones, featuring a screen at the top, two soft keys and a navigation key underneath, and a send, cancel and end call key at the bottom.

The soft keys are large and easy to press, as is the navigation key that is wide and fits well under the thumb. Samsung has added a small ridge at the top of the navigation key, meaning you can slide the phone out without pressing on the screen or navigation key and inadvertently opening an application.

On the left side of the phone is a volume rocker that adjusts the volume during calls and when you're using the MP3 player. Further down on this side is a microSD slot that lets you expand the phone's memory. The phone already contains 80MB of memory, but if you want to add more for MP3s or pictures you can buy a microSD card.

On the handset's right side there's a headphone port that doubles up as the charging and USB port, and further up this side is a dedicated shutter button that operates the 3-megapixel camera located underneath the slide mechanism on the back.

The camera features an LED photo light, portrait mirror and autofocus. The camera application gives you the option to adjust the white balance and ISO settings and you can add effects and frames to your photos. You can also edit your photos using the built-in image editor.

There's an MP3 player that you can use to play your favourite MP3 files. The D900 supports A2DP, also known as stereo Bluetooth, which lets you listen to music wirelessly and in stereo via a compatible pair of Bluetooth headphones.

Other features include quad-band and EDGE connectivity, so you can use the phone anywhere in the world that uses a GSM network, a speakerphone for hands-free calls, a voice recorder for memos, a Web browser for browsing the Internet on the go, a document viewer that lets you view certain PC documents, and TV output so that you can connect it to a TV and view your photos on a larger screen. You also get Java games, polyphonic ringtones, a calendar, an alarm clock, memos, a world clock, a timer and a currency converter.

Weaknesses
The greatest problem with the D900 is the lip at the bottom of the keypad, which is found underneath the slide mechanism. At the bottom of the keypad there's a section that protrudes like the bumper on a bumper car. This would be handy if you used your keypad to battle with other mobile phones, but it really gets in the way when you're trying to press the bottom three keys.

This wouldn't be such an issue if you only needed to use the keys at the bottom sporadically, but these buttons function as the change word and space bar in the SMS editor -- you will need to use them a lot. The bottom row also includes the 0 key, which is the first digit in most UK phone numbers -- there's absolutely no avoiding the bottom row of keys.

The keys themselves are completely flush, making them harder to distinguish. The keypad narrows towards the bottom, creating a veritable thumb exercising course, exacerbated by the problems accessing the bottom row.

While the camera is much better than those on other Samsung mobile phones available in the UK, it's still not as good as the Sony Ericsson's K800i's camera. The K800i's xenon flash and Bestpic feature make taking photos more like using a standalone digital camera, whereas the D900's camera still feels very much like a standard camera phone.

The other niggle we have with the D900 is the lack of a proper flash on the 3-megapixel camera. The LED photo light only serves to make things look blue at close range and doesn't work for objects further than 1m away. While the camera is better than the 2-megapixel camera found on the D600, it still can't totally compete with the likes of the Sony Ericsson K800i.

We're disappointed that this phone doesn't have 3G connectivity. It does have EDGE, but that is (at present) only useful if you're on the Orange network. The lack of 3G means that downloading content and browsing the Web can be a little slow, but this is only a problem if you use your mobile phone for those services.

Conclusion
The Samsung D900 is a very slim phone considering its feature set, and is another testament to Samsung's engineering prowess. The 3-megapixel camera, A2DP support, 80MB of internal memory and an expandable microSD slot puts this phone at the top end of Samsung's UK portfolio, at least from a technical point of view.

The impressive list of features, however, is tarnished by the keypad, which we found difficult to use. The bottom section of the phone sticks out making accessing the bottom three keys difficult. You can use your nails or the tip of your finger to press those keys, but it's definitely not as comfortable as the keypad on the D600. The D900 is definitely worth a look, but you should test out the keypad before you commit yourself.

Edited by Mary Lojkine
Additional editing by Kate Macefield

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Samsung D900

Part Number: CNETSamsung D900
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