There's no doubt about it -- touchscreen phones look sexy. With its glossy exterior, you can't deny the elegance of the Samsung F490. It carries a 5-megapixel camera on its back and packs 3G and HSDPA into its Web browser. How's that for desirability?
It's always embarrassing when you're a kid and your dad tries to pull off some old-school dance moves. It usually begins and ends the same way: your dad, flailing about like Mr Blobby and you left feeling upset. Enter the Samsung F490: this is a phone that wants to be cool but will it get its groove on dad-style? It's currently available to buy from Vodafone on a monthly contract.
There's no denying that touchscreen phones are sexy, but the excitement of seeing it for the first time starts to fade away when you pick it up. Unlike the iPhone -- a handset that feels like it's been crafted using premium materials -- the F490 feels too light and less like something that could survive an encounter with a two-year-old.
Glossy surfaces might look good in airports but the F490's reflective plastic screen makes it difficult to see in sunny conditions. We also found that you have to push the screen harder than you would the iPhone's to compose text messages or navigate the menu system, which is disappointing.
Although the F490's user interface -- also used on the Samsung F700 -- looks good, it's not as snappy to use as the iPhone's or Nokia N95's, for example. Scrolling through lists, in particular, takes some getting used to because you have to brush the screen up and down in a certain way: it just doesn't have much pizazz.
This lack of excitement is reflected in the F490's applications, too. The Web browser offers a basic browsing experience compared to that of the iPhone, and wastes a high-speed connection due to its lack of functionality. Even when we tried a third-party browser, the clunky touchscreen made it less enjoyable to use.
We're totally chuffed that Samsung has included a 3.5mm headphone jack so you can use a standard pair of headphones. Unfortunately, the MP3 player leaves too much to be desired. The player interface is awkward to control, featuring a cross-like design that isn't very practical to use when you're crammed in a tube carriage on the way to work.
A 5-megapixel camera didn't dazzle us either. Without the right optics or flash to support it, the advantages of the F490's high megapixel count are lost. It does take good shots for MMS pictures and small prints, but if you're out with your mates in a dark club and fancy taking a picture for posterity, don't expect it to come out.
The Samsung F490's battery lasted for over two days with moderate use and less when we connected to the Web over HSDPA for prolonged periods. If you listen to music going to and from work, take a few pictures throughout the day and browse the Web over HSDPA regularly, then be prepared to recharge it every night.
The Samsung F490 certainly tries to hit all the right moves to make it into more than just an iPhone lookalike. In reality, it lacks the finesse of its rival. It also lacks the flair that the F700 had in its slide-out keyboard. It seems that despite its best intentions, the F490 is mostly just dancing by itself.
Edited by Jason Jenkins
Additional editing by Shannon Doubleday