Samsung makes some dinky, bling little clamshells, and the SGH-E770 is no exception. But there's one feature you won't have seen before -- VibeTonz. This is all about adding a tactile element to the sounds your handset makes -- yep, it shivers and shakes.
VibeTonz has been incorporated into the E770's ringtones, games, message tones, power on/off tones and even into the little tinkly sound the handset makes when you open its flip screen.
As we write, Orange has the E770 exclusively, and you can pick it up for free on contracts starting at around £20, and for £179.99 on pay as you go.
If it's cute you're looking for in your next phone, you may well have come to the right place, because this is a neat handset that shows off what clamshells are best at -- being small and unobtrusive in your pocket.
If the outside were simply composed of two-tone matte silver with black edging, we'd say the E770 appeals to our idea of understated neatness. Add in the shiny front buttons and camera lens, and a front screen, and we're talking bling.
Press the camera launch button on the right edge and the front screen turns into a viewfinder. Because the camera lens is on the front edge, quick photo-booth snaps of you and your friends are not only possible but absolutely begging to be taken. Tap the bigger of the three front buttons and you switch to movie mode, while the other two front buttons let you fiddle with zoom and brightness.
Also on the right edge of the E770 is a slot for a microSD card (aka TransFlash). The slot is protected by a fiddly, though useful, hinged cover. A similar cover protects the mains power slot on the bottom edge, and the headphones slot on the left edge. A relatively large volume rocker on the left edge completes a tour of the outside of this handset.
Flipping open the E770 reveals an internal design that's much less attractive than the outside might lead you to believe, but it has its good points, most notably that the number pad is large, and this in combination with its ridged keys makes dialling as easy as pie.
The two softmenu keys, the call and end keys and the cancel key are similarly large and easy to get to. The navigation button is a little more awkward, but we got used to it fairly quickly.
The Samsung SGH-E770 is deceptively well-featured. We say deceptively because on the outside it looks like a fairly average or even low-end handset. But delve in and you find plenty of interest.
First off is VibeTonz. It's a fancy word for something that's pretty straightforward: the handset vibrates when it makes noises. Not all the time, you understand, but there are ringtones and message tones with vibrations, and the system can be used in games too.
The handset comes with some sounds that take advantage of this, including 15 VibeTonz ringtones. The vibrations change according to the tone and you can turn off sounds and just have vibration, so you can tell who's calling without annoying the entire bus.
VibeTonz is most noticeable -- and fun -- during gaming, and the handset is pre-loaded with four games that support it to give you a feel for things. While we wouldn't want to overstate its effect, VibeTonz is, well, different.
There is more to this handset than fancy vibrations, though. There is, for example, 80MB of storage built in. This gives you plenty of room for shots from the camera or music to play on the built-in player.
As well as using the front screen as a viewfinder for the camera you can, of course, use the inner screen too. This screen lets things down a little, being on the small side and low in resolution, but its colours are vibrant. When working as the camera viewfinder, the navigation pad provides for zoom and brightness control as well as flipping between video and stills mode. For other features, like using image effects, frames and the self timer, you can drop into a menu screen or memorise the pre-set numberpad shortcuts.
Music quality through the handset speaker is so-so. Using the provided headset improves things considerably, but Samsung has made a blunder in hardware design -- the chunky headset connector obscures the handset's volume rocker. Tsk, tsk.
Use the main screen to access the music player and you can fiddle with playlists and an equaliser. The front screen has a role in music playing, too. The three buttons sitting underneath the screen are marked with music-control features -- play/pause, back and forwards. You can play tunes stored on the internal memory or on a media card, but you need to open the flip to start playback, which is annoying.
There's more. An address book, a diary, email support, Web and WAP browsers, a voice recorder, an alarm clock, a voice controller, a calculator, a unit converter, a stopwatch and a basic image editor bulk things out. None of these are outstanding examples of their type, but they're efficient enough.
The Samsung SGH-E770 was fine during voice calls, though we'd have liked more volume from the speakerphone. Having the camera lens on the front of the flip, coupled with easy control for taking shots, meant we took photos more often than we otherwise might have, and sound quality through the earbuds encouraged us to leave our standalone player at home while we were testing it.
Battery life was pretty good. With about half an hour of music and a few calls a day we went a couple of days between charges, though serious music fans and Bluetooth users may not be so lucky.
Edited by Mary Lojkine
Additional editing by Nick Hide