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Fear not, you haven't stepped into a time warp and emerged back in 2005. The E1360 may look like a chubby reincarnation of the D600, but it's actually one of Samsung's latest budget blowers, and comes with a few surprises under the bonnet -- including Bluetooth data transfer. Unfortunately, it's also saddled with the usual litany of shortcomings, which is to be expected when you consider the astonishingly low asking price.
You can buy the E1360 handset SIM-free for £70, or nab one on Orange pay as you go for around
Samsung's budget offerings have already covered the candybar (E1170) and flip (E1150) formats, so it shouldn't come as a massive shock to discover the Korean manufacturer is putting out a cut-price slider variant, too. The E1360 shares many similarities with the aforementioned pair of cheap and cheerful handsets, but also comes with a handful of its own tricks.
In purely cosmetic terms, the E1360 calls to mind the company's creative ethos from about half a decade ago. It bears more than a passing resemblance to the popular D600 and D900 slider phones, from 2005 and 2006 respectively. This observation certainly isn't intended as a criticism -- both of these devices are iconic design classics -- but it does make the E1360 seem a little out of touch when placed alongside Samsung's more recent releases, such as the Galaxy S and Monte.
With a thickness of 18mm, the E1360 isn't exactly what you'd call svelte, but it feels incredibly robust and sturdy nonetheless. This impression of strength carries through to the slider mechanism, which displays the bare minimum of wobble and is accompanied by an appealing 'click' sound when you open and close it.
Like the E1150, the E1360's battery compartment is covered with tiny raised dots, which enhance grip when the device is cradled in your sweaty palm. Combined with the rounded corners and aforementioned girth, these intriguing little pimples mean the E1360 is unlikely to slip from your hand during use -- not that an impact with terra firma would have much of a detrimental effect on the phone's burly exterior.
Unsurprisingly with a sub-£30 phone, there are caveats to consider when approaching the E1360. Like its stablemates, it has a disappointing screen, with a resolution of just 128x160 pixels. The usual ghosting issues remain, with swift movement between menus causing an unsightly blurring effect. Although the display is capable of creating some pleasingly bold colours, when placed alongside the latest AMOLED screens, it looks tremendously washed-out.
The E1360's connectivity options are somewhat stymied. There's no 3G on board, but you can, at least, access the Web via GPRS. Multimedia messaging is supported, although in the interests of keeping production costs down, you won't find a camera anywhere on the E1360's casing.
Surprisingly, the E1360 boasts Bluetooth, something which was completely missing from the E1150 and E1170. It's an addition that's warmly welcomed, but the pitiful 2MB internal storage will put the dampeners on any dreams you may have of gleefully exchanging MP3s and photos with friends. There's no expansion slot, either, so you can't augment that minuscule amount of memory with a microSD card.
A common trait of budget phones we've seen so far is muscular battery life, due largely to the lack of power-intensive technology, such as 3G and Wi-Fi. Curiously, the E1360 is unable to compete with its low-cost rivals in this regard. While the phone will comfortably outlast your average smart phone, it runs dry disappointingly fast.
Samsung's low-cost handsets come with a fairly standard-issue suite of applications these days. There's the surprisingly handy 'fake call' feature -- this allows you to stage a mock telephone call in order to escape sticky social situations. The 'mobile tracker' security measure is also in place, which alerts a contact number of your choosing should anyone try to insert another SIM card into your (presumably stolen or lost) device.
For finger bandits, the E1360 is equipped with A+Sudoku, a passable replication of everyone's favourite brain-buster. The highly responsive direction pad and alphanumeric keyboard provide the perfect interface for such a title, but, unfortunately, the E1360's gaming aspirations end there. There doesn't seem to be any way of installing alternative games, despite the presence of GPRS connectivity.
Samsung has certainly covered all of the bases when it comes to budget phone styles. Between the E1360, the E1150 and the E1170, fans of all physical phone formats are catered for. The Samsung E1360 scores over its siblings thanks to the inclusion of Bluetooth support, but the average battery life and low amount of memory sadly count against it. There really is very little difference between Samsung's trio of pocket-money mobiles, but the E1360's ability to access the net via GPRS should make it slightly more attractive to tech-savvy budget shoppers.
Edited by Emma Bayly