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Samsung E900 review: Samsung E900

You'll need to retrain your thumb to operate the E900, which features touch-activated keys. The phone has some cool features, but you may find yourself accidentally hanging up on people or deleting half-composed texts.

Ella Morton
Ella was an Associate Editor at CNET Australia.
Ella Morton
4 min read

Phone manufacturers have been getting pretty touchy lately: from LG's Chocolate KG800 model to the much discussed iPhone, touch-powered navigation methods are the feature du jour of the mobile market. Now Samsung has entered the tactile fray with its E900, a triband slider phone that looks like a more tapered version of the KG800.


Samsung E900

The Good

Palm-perfect size. Good menu design. Vibrant display.

The Bad

Camera has shutter lag. Touch-sensitive keys can cause problems. No TV-out cable included.

The Bottom Line

The E900 looks sexy and sports some cool features, but we didn't like the touch keys much.

In the phone's press release, Samsung extol the virtues of what they call the "futuristic touchscreen" navigation keys, which do away with "the need for excessive protruding buttons". While we'd argue that a protruding button or two is a necessity if you want a functional device, the fact that the keys lie in wait below the glossy surface -- awakening in a blaze of white backlight upon sliding the phone up -- does give the phone a smooth and sexy look.

The E900 is nice and thin at 16.5 millimetres, and can be operated easily with one hand. Its sliding mechanism is of the swift and springy variety, requiring only a light nudge to activate.

Nestled beneath the 2.05-inch, QVGA TFT display are the fabled touch-activated sections, consisting of soft keys at the top, send and end keys down the bottom, and music navigation keys squished in the middle. These music keys only appear when the media player app is activated, which is just as well -- it's a tight squeeze, and bigger thumbs are likely to hit them accidentally. These touch keys surround a more conventional five-way navigation button. The silver square in the centre is not a selection key (which seems the logical choice), but a WAP shortcut button.

On the right side of the phone is a proprietary port that handles charging, USB connection and hands-free devices. You may not need it for that last function though -- the E900 ships with a Bluetooth headset. Above the port are dedicated music player and camera keys and a teeny power button that also unlocks the display.

The left side houses only dedicated volume buttons, with the base of the phone devoted to the microSD slot.

While the Chocolate had a relatively wussy feature set, a wealth of inclusions lurk beneath the E900's serene ebony surfaces. A 2-megapixel flash camera and 80MB of internal memory with microSD expansion slot compare favourably with the specs of the LG model -- which sports a 1.3-megapixel flash-free cam and non-expandable 128MB of space. One thing to note if you plan on storing a heap of songs: the E900 does not come with a microSD card.

As with Samsung's D600, the E900 is equipped with a TV output, allowing you to view your videos and pics at a much larger size. Strangely, there is no TV-out cable included. This is odd for two reasons: Samsung included a cable with its D600, and the cord uses a proprietary connection and therefore isn't readily available in generic form.

The menus on the E900 are easy to navigate, with sub-menus appearing as you scroll down lists. This makes customisation easier, as it means you don't need to go searching back and forth between menu layers in order to find the setting you're looking for.

Included in the box is Samsung's PC Studio software, which you'll need in order to transfer files between phone and computer via USB.

As snazzy as they look, the touch-sensitive keys can cause problems. As we found with LG's Chocolate, it takes a while to adjust to using them -- instead of keeping your thumb on the phone and applying pressure, you need to lift it off for commands to register. The touch screen is very sensitive, and when you're typing a message or dialling a number, your thumb can often stray to the cancel key on the right. This can result in the instant deletion of that ultra-witty SMS you've been composing, which is quite the patience-tester.

Another messaging issue: whenever we began composing a text, we found that the first letter appeared in lower case, requiring us to button-mash the star key to switch to upper case and back again. If you're not fussed over immaculate punctuation and spelling in your texts it won't worry you, but this grammar fiend found it irritating.

Photos turned out well in both daytime and low-light conditions, but there was some significant shutter lag. You'll need a steady hand and patient friends in order to capture sharp images.

Battery life was good at around four days.

The E900 does have some positive qualities -- the hand-friendly size, sub-menus and vibrant display are chief among them -- but touch-key issues, texting troubles and shutter lag brought its score down.