Samsung's Solid Immerse is aimed at people with an adventurous streak. Its sturdy exterior allows it to resist water, repel dust and laugh in the face of bumps. Sadly, the phone's shortcomings mean you may think twice about taking it on your next outdoor escapade.
The Solid Immerse is available for around £100 SIM-free. Monthly contract prices start at around £10.
With a chunky design and IP67 accreditation, the Solid Immerse has been built to take punishment, including drops, submersion in 1m of water for up to 30 minutes, and dusty environments that would make your vacuum cleaner beg for the sweet release of death.
When placed alongside some of the svelter phones on the market, the Solid Immerse looks positively gargantuan. All of its ports are covered with stoppers, and the keypad is fashioned from a single piece of rubber. This prevents dust and liquid from entering the inside of the device.
The 2-inch screen has an anti-scratch coating to prevent damage, and the battery compartment is kept watertight thanks to a unique locking system that requires the use of a coin or suchlike to open.
Although Samsung is cautious about the Solid Immerse's ability to stand firm against the elements -- the instruction manual warns you against intentionally dunking the handset in water -- we were very impressed with its construction.
The Solid Immerse has a proprietary user interface developed by Samsung. The upshot is that the phone's pretty easy to use. The grid-like menu system will be instantly familiar to anyone weaned on Nokia and Sony Ericsson handsets circa 2005, and finding your way around is a relatively pain-free experience.
The Solid Immerse even comes with some neat extras that you wouldn't normally associate with a dumb, as opposed to smart, phone. A built-in pedometer allows you to track your epic cross-country hikes, and Facebook and Twitter connectivity offers some limited social-networking opportunities.
The phone's a pretty sluggish performer, though. The Solid Immerse offers 3G network connectivity, but venturing online is a chore. Web pages take an age to render, and just accessing your Twitter stream is like pulling teeth.
The phone has a 2-megapixel camera capable of snapping panoramic shots by stitching images together, but the overall image quality is less than inspiring, and its videos are so poor that they're barely worth mentioning. For those who like to grab visual reminders of their epic mountain climbs, it's disappointing that the phone isn't capable of capturing better images.
On a more positive note, the LED torch on the top of the phone is genuinely useful -- not only when you're potholing, but also when you're fumbling for your door key in the middle of the night. Next to this is a sturdy lanyard holder that allows you to wear the phone around your neck.
When you consider the relatively modest tech within the Solid Immerse's tank-like exterior, you'd think that its battery life would be exceptional. Sadly, that isn't the case -- the 1,300mAH power cell should be more than up to the task, but it struggles to last an entire day with even moderate usage.
Given the adventurous aspirations of the Solid Immerse, this lack of staying power is especially worrying. We dread to think what would happen if you were to rely on this phone to contact others in the event of a fall or injury during an outdoor excursion. The last thing you need on a weekend away in a remote location is for your phone to give up the ghost in less than 24 hours -- you might find you end up cutting your own arm off.
The Samsung Solid Immerse is well hard, but it's let down by its disappointing software, a dismal camera and lacklustre battery life. If you're deadly serious about acquiring a phone that you can depend on when Mother Nature turns nasty, we'd recommend the Motorola Defy. Should your budget not stretch to a smart phone, the Solid Immerse is a worthy contender -- just make sure it's fully charged before you go for a long walk in the hills alone.
Edited by Charles Kloet