Samsung Z560 review: Samsung Z560

CNET Editors' Rating

3.5 stars Very good
Review Date:
Updated on:

The Good Relatively compact form factor; comfortable to hold and use; high-speed (HSDPA) connectivity; stereo Bluetooth; expandable microSD slot.

The Bad No flash on the camera.

The Bottom Line The Samsung Z560 is another impressive offering from a company that continually strives to be at the forefront of new technology. It can access the Internet at speeds equivalent to some people's home broadband connection and yet doesn't feel particularly bulky compared to previous HSDPA handsets

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The Samsung Z560 is a humble phone. On the outside it looks like a standard clamshell phone but on the inside beats the heart of a high-speed Internet racer. It features HSDPA, which can also be found in the HTC TyTN, and lets you access the Internet at speeds of up to 1.8Mbps.

The Z650 is currently available at T-Mobile on a monthly contract from free to about £140, depending on which tariff you choose.

Design
The first thing you notice when you pick up the Z560 is that it's not that large or that heavy for an HSDPA (3.5G) phone -- it's the smallest we've seen so far and at 94g, weighs less than some basic handsets.

On the front section there's a 2-megapixel camera at the top, a small colour screen further down and three dedicated music touch keys at the bottom. On the left side of the handset is a charging port that also doubles up as the headphone port.

On the right side of the Z560 there's a dedicated camera button and a covered expandable microSD slot. The back section is minimalist with a sliding plastic cover to access the battery.

Once you open the up the clamshell you immediately notice the large colour screen that measures an impressive 35mm by 47mm and displays 256,000 colours. Underneath it, on the bottom right, is an unobtrusive small VGA camera for video calling.

Further down on the bottom section, on the inside, is the keypad. It's large, well paced out and the keys are easy to press. Indeed, this is one of the best keypads we've ever used and makes dialling and texting an uncomplicated task.

Features
Our Z560 came from T-Mobile on the Web 'n' Walk tariff meaning that we could access the Internet as much as we liked for a flat-rate fee, This is where this phone showed its true power -- via an HSDPA connection you can download Web content at up to speeds of 1.8Mbps, which is similar to some people's home broadband connection.

In order to access the Internet, one of the soft keys on the top of the keypad lets you access T-Mobile's Web 'n' Walk homepage directly. This gives you the option to search Google or access a variety of useful mobile specific pages.

One such page is the BBC's News homepage, which displays pictures and summaries of the day's news. The page loads within seconds and is truly impressive if you're a veteran mobile Internet browser used to GPRS speeds.

The built-in browser lets you set it to desktop view so you can view pages as you would on a computer by scrolling across the whole page. Or you can set it to smart-fit view, which squashes the whole page to the size of the Z560's display, although this makes sites appear incorrectly if they're not designed to be viewed on small screens.

That's one problem with browsing on the Z560: some pages not designed to be displayed on a mobile phone take a long time to load or won't display at all. Fortunately, there are two solutions to this problem.



The first is to sign up to a mobizine like CNET.co.uk's that will convert content from a non-mobile site into a mobile-friendly format. The other solution is to hook the Z560 up to your computer using the provided USB cable and software. By connecting the handset to your computer, not only will you be able to view Web pages better but you will also be able to see them faster.

For those of you not interested in browsing the Web, the Z560 has a 2-megapixel camera and an MP3 player. The camera has autofocus but there's no flash or night mode, so pictures in low light don't come out particularly well.

The MP3 player is more pleasing, supporting MP3, AAC, AAC++ and WMA files and allowing you to adjust the playing mode, which includes putting your music into shuffle mode. You can also control your music with the Z560 shut by tapping on the touch-sensitive music keys on the front.

You can listen to music on the loudspeaker or with the provided headphones -- unfortunately there isn't an adaptor in the box, so you can't use your own set. You can, however, use a pair of stereo (A2DP) Bluetooth headphones as this phone will support them.

All your tunes and photos can be stored on a microSD card but you'll need to buy one -- neither Samsung nor T-Mobile provide one in the box.

Other features include video calls, SMS and MMS messaging, a calendar, a world clock, a calculator, a converter, a file manager, an alarm clock, a schedule, task and memo functions.

One of the more unusual features is the mPet application that lets you look after a pet and monitor its health, in addition to many other things, in a similar way to a Tamagotchi. There's also a really useful Tube map application that shows you maps of the underground networks in London, Paris, Milan and Berlin.

Performance
The download speed is significantly faster than on GPRS and 3G handsets, with Web pages loading much quicker. The browser and screen make viewing Web pages acceptable, but it doesn't beat Nokia's N-Series browser that gives you an overview of where you are going when using desktop mode.

The 2-megapixel camera takes good pictures for MMS messages and the autofocus means that shots don't come out too blurry, although don't expect crystal clear images. We noticed some discolouration around the edges of very colourful objects but overall the photos came out fine for small prints.

Audio quality from the MP3 player is good, as is the audio quality from calls. The music sounds clear and sharp but there's no option to change any equaliser settings, which is a shame. The loud speaker sounds as expected and, unless you're aiming to annoy people on a bus, is mainly useful for the occasional hands-free call when you don't have your Bluetooth headset around.

Edited by Mary Lojkine
Additional editing by Kate Macefield

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Where to Buy

Samsung Z560

Part Number: CNETSamsung Z560

Typical Price: £280.00

See manufacturer website for availability.