Phone manufacturers have been getting pretty touchy lately: from 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.to the much discussed
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.