The Samsung E900 is a stylish slider phone that has an impressive feature set and a cool heat- and touch-sensitive touchpad. While Samsung is renowned for making slider phones, this handset deviates from the classic design and includes a seamless front section.
The new design and the use of a touchpad make the E900 superficially similar to theDesign . Given that the Chocolate phone came out first, there were some raised eyebrows when we opened the box. The resemblance to the Chocolate phone is undeniable, but the E900 has the upper hand on features, offering a speakerphone, a 2-megapixel camera and a slot for a microSD memory card.
The front section of the E900 is completely black aside from the silver details around the ear speaker, navigation key and Samsung logo. There's a 240x320-pixel screen that looks seamless when it's switched off and displays 262,000 colours when it's activated. The touchpad also lights up when it is activated, and glows white.
An interesting feature of the touchpad is seen when you start the phone up -- the touchpad only displays two soft keys at the top that let you access the menu and contacts, and the send and end call keys at the bottom. When you switch the MP3 player on however, a further three buttons are illuminated and you see a play/ pause key and a forward and back key for searching through tracks.
The only key on the front that isn't a touch sensitive one is the navigation key. While this might seem like an ugly detail on an otherwise seamless front, the addition of a mechanical navigation key is an extremely welcome design feature -- using heat- and touch-sensitive keys can be very fiddly and unresponsive at times, while using a mechanical key provides tactile feedback and is easier to use.
Unfortunately, as with most Samsung phones, the button in the middle of the navigation key that is usually associated with an OK or select button, accesses the WAP browser from the main page. This becomes annoying if you forget and assume it will take you to the menu from the main page, but it does work as an OK button once you've accessed the menu via the top left soft key.
On the left of the phone is a dedicated volume button that, aside from letting you adjust the volume during calls and on the MP3 player, can also be set so that it can reject or silence calls. On the right of the phone is the power button and dedicated MP3 and camera button.
Further down on the right-hand side is the charging port that doubles up as a headphone port. The E900 does come with a handsfree headset that lets you receive calls and listen to music. Unlike the LG Chocolate's extremely functional headset, this headset doesn't have any dedicated music controls and isn't as eye catching.
The back of the phone is minimalist apart from some embossed Samsung logos and a matte section at the bottom that houses the loudspeaker, a feature not available on the Chocolate phone. On the bottom of the phone is an expandable microSD slot that is accessible from the outside, which is better than having to take the cover and battery off in order to put a card in.
Once you slide the phone open you reveal the alpha-numeric keypad that features large keys but does suffer from the common slider phone problems of lacking space at the top and being unbalanced and awkward to use at the bottom. On the back of the open phone is the 2-megapixel camera that is hidden behind the slide when it's shut. It has a flash and relatively large portrait mirror that you can see easily yourself in. The slide mechanism itself is spring mounted, but the phone does feel slightly hollow and clucky compared to other slider phones.
The Samsung E900 is definitely not feature shy and, considering its size, it does well to pack in some great specs. It has an almost identical feature set to the Samsung D600, which is a much thicker and heavier phone. The E900 also has a Chocolate-beating 2-megapixel camera, speakerphone function and an expandable microSD slot.
One feature that we particularly like is the subsection window that opens up as you hover over different sections of the menu. This useful detail lets you see what's inside a subsection without needing to go into it.
There's also an MP3 player that can support MP3, ACC, ACC+, e-AAC+ and WMA. You can listen to music via the loudspeaker (albeit the sound quality isn't akin to an iPod Hi-Fi), or you can use the proprietary headphones. You can even hook up the E900 to a TV using the TV-output feature and view your phones content on a large screen.
Other features include, Bluetooth, SMS and MMS messaging, a voice recorder, polyphonic ring tones, a calendar, a to-do list, a scheduler, a clock, world time, an alarm, a timer, a stopwatch, a calculator, a currency converter and Java games.
Unfortunately, the E900 isn't completely perfect and we found some of the features lacklustre. The 2-megapixel camera takes a while to load and when you do take a picture there is a significant amount of shutter lag, so the pictures come out blurry if you move your hand. Also the flash doesn't work properly and makes things look blue rather than bright.
The MP3 player does give you the option to set the equaliser, put it into shuffle and repeat mode and display visualisations, but the tinny sound quality left us disappointed. It doesn't come with a 3.5mm jack adaptor and you can only use proprietary headphones that don't come with any MP3 controls built in.
Aside from these issues already mentioned there are a few smaller flaws that might annoy you. For example, there are only two skins (also known as themes) that you can set to either black or white, and you are limited to ten message tones without the choice to add your own. You also can't set MP3 ring tones to vibrate and only certain tones will vibrate as they play -- Samsung gives you the option to set the phone to vibrate before it rings but only a few ring tones will actually ring and vibrate at the same time.Performance
Audio quality on calls was good -- we heard people clearly. The speakerphone is loud enough to use for handsfree in low-level noise environments but isn't audible in very loud areas. We were disappointed by the audio quality on the MP3 player though -- it was loud but lacked bass and sounded tinny.
The camera took pleasing photographs if you could hold it perfectly still, otherwise there was a noticeable blur around certain areas due to the shutter lag.
Battery life lasted over two days with heavy usage and it's quoted at 3.5 hours talk time and 220 hours on standby.
Edited by Mary Lojkine
Additional editing by Kate Macefield