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Samsung F300 review: Samsung F300

The Good Slim design; large, crisp screen on the music player side.

The Bad Fiddly controls; short battery life; tiny screen on the phone side.

The Bottom Line This twin-face approach just doesn't pay off with this handset -- the oddball design makes it confusing to use. Matters also aren't helped by the phone's sluggish feel and poor battery life. There's little to recommend here

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4.5 Overall

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Being two-faced certainly isn't a trait that you'd want in a friend, but is it one you'd want in a phone? Samsung seems to think so because that's what it's offering with the F300. On one side it looks pretty much like a standard mobile phone, while on the other it looks like an MP3 player styled along the lines of the iPod nano.

There are plenty of phones on the market that have music features, but none that separate the music and call functions in such a dramatic way as Samsung has done here. The handset will be available free on contract from Carphone Warehouse, among others, or you can pick it up SIM-free on the Web for around £270.

Despite the addition of screens on both sides of the phone, this blower is still impressively slim. It's around the same thickness as a standard CD case, but actually looks slightly slimmer thanks to the nicely rounded edges.

The phone side of the handset is taken up by a small keypad and an even smaller screen. Despite the keypad's diminutive dimensions it doesn't actually feel too cramped so you can work up a decent speed when texting.

The touch-sensitive keypad lets you navigate through the music menus

The tiny screen is much more of an issue. It's only tall enough to show three lines of text at any one time. As a result it's used for just the most basic functions, such as looking up contacts or typing out SMS messages. When you access most of the phone's more advanced features, such as the Web browser, it displays a message saying 'switching' and you have to turn the handset over to use the larger screen on the MP3 player side.

That screen is excellent as not only is it bright and sharp, but it also makes colours look great. Perched underneath this is the touch-sensitive pad for navigating through the music menus, but more on those later.

The problem with the two-sided design is that it makes the phone hard to use. The constant swapping between one side and the other quickly becomes tiresome. For example, you have to switch to the larger screen to use the Web browser and you're pretty much forced to switch to it to view pictures and videos, because they look like thumbnail images on the small display.

It can also be hard to know what side to look at -- pick up the phone after leaving it on a table for a few minutes and both screens will be off to save on battery. We guarantee you'll look at the wrong side more times than not.

The menu system is also a mess and some of the entries are just badly labelled. For example, would you really expect to look for videos in a menu marked Albums? No, we wouldn't either, but that's where you find them on this handset.

Pictures, music and videos can be transferred between the phone and a PC via USB. When working over USB the phone can actually operate in two modes. In the Media Transfer mode you can use Windows Media Player to sync tracks, including music from subscription services such as Napster.

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