Samsung F700 review:

Samsung F700

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3.5 stars

CNET Editors' Rating

4.5 stars 4 user reviews

The Good Attractive design; HSDPA mobile broadband; Qwerty keypad.

The Bad Web browser; camera could be better; user interface is fiddly at times.

The Bottom Line There's no denying that the F700 looks like the iPhone, but in all fairness it's a very different phone. The F700 can send MMS messages, shoot videos, connect to an HSDPA network and there's a full Qwerty keypad hidden beneath the slide. But there's simply not enough to make it better than the iPhone and while it's very attractive, we can't help feeling that the user interface and features could be better

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7.5 Overall

When Samsung first unveiled the F700 earlier this year at 3GSM, there was no mistaking that it took its design cues from Apple's iPhone. Since then many other manufacturers, including HTC and LG, have produced handsets that share many of the iPhone's design features -- but the F700 remains the closest to it.

Looks alone don't make a phone though, so we've spent some quality time with the F700 to find out if it's as slick as it looks or just a well-dressed wannabe. You can currently pick up a Samsung F700 from Vodafone for free on a monthly contract.

The F700 looks like the iPhone, and that's that. No, it's not identical -- it's less wide, thicker and dark blue in colour, but you wouldn't be mad if you saw a friend put it on a table and remarked, "Oh, is that your new iPhone?"

The F700 is a big leap for Samsung, which has generally stayed away from touchscreen phones, instead making masses of sliders, which are immensely popular around the world. But Samsung also has a reputation for pushing technological boundaries, even if it doesn't come up with the idea first.

The F700's large touchscreen is nice to look at and responsive to touch. Underneath the screen there's a mechanical key, which pops up a shortcut menu. On the top of the F700 there's a power key and charging port next to a 3.5mm headphone jack.

Annoyingly, the headphone jack is protected by a small cover that only serves to get in the way when you want to plug your headphones in quickly. Ironically, where a cover is needed most -- on the 3-megapixel camera at the back of the F700 -- you won't find one.

For some reason both the iPhone and F700 are slippy chappies -- Two people in the office managed to pick the F700 up and drop it within seconds, which we don't think is necessarily a design fault, but you're best holding it firmly when you use it. You'll want to wipe it every now and then too, as it picks up fingerprints very easily.

Of course unlike certain other touchscreen phones, the F700 has a trick up its sleeve so you can avoid touching the screen altogether when you're writing texts or emails, and that's a full slide-out Qwerty keypad. But breathe a sigh of relief if you're imagining some kind of squashed mess -- this keypad is usable, very usable.

We rank the F700's keypad on a similar level to the HTC TyTN II's keypad, which we rated very highly. The keys are well sized and well spaced out and the layout is straightforward. There is one niggle we had with it and that's the lack of space at the top of the keypad, which depending on how you press the keys can be annoying.

The F700's user interface is closer to the LG Viewty's than the iPhone's. A phone's interface is the first port of call when you switch it on and while we see what Samsung was trying to achieve, it doesn't work in all areas of the phone. It seems unfinished, as if it was rushed for a quick launch.

Certain processes, such as hanging up, are less straightforward than they should be. There are no fancy built-in sensors, so the screen doesn't automatically change to landscape mode when you tip it over, or realise when your face is near it, or adjust the screen brightness.

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