Before we had Samsung's latest mobile phone in our hot little hands, advertising for the U900 on bus stands (and on CNET.com.au) had caught our attention, and in our minds we imagined a stunning handset complete with futuristic beams of lights exploding from the touch panel. Now that the U900 sits on our desk it's not as striking as we'd first thought. That's not to say the U900 is unattractive, it's quite the contrary in fact, but it's not exactly eye-catching either. The combination of brushed stainless steel and soft-touch, matte black plastic is subdued, and its slider form factor remind us of the ; another unassuming Samsung handset.
But the real reason you're interested in the U900 is the Adaptive touch panel, right? The 1-inch touchscreen sits within the standard calling buttons and below the excellent 2.2-inch colour display. When switching between menus and applications, the panel morphs to show dedicated touch-sensitive controls for whatever is required in that application or menu. When you break it right down, the touch panel simply replaces the standard five-way navigation button found on most phones, but the fact that it "adapts" is handy in certain apps.
Yet, this still isn't such an eye-catching feature, even though you can change the colour of the panel's icons — to a flaming orange or a screaming hot pink if desired — even then, the U900 remains conservative and conventional in its appearance. A friend of ours made the comment that "[the U900] looks like a TV remote". We're inclined to agree.
Looks aside, the U900 feels very solid and sturdy. The sliding mechanism is smooth and without any of the loose jiggling we sometimes find in slider phones. Below the touch panel, the phone recesses to form a groove to place your thumb in when sliding, keeping it out of the way of the panel.
In the months before the , the U900 will fill the space of Samsung's flagship model. This pretty much guarantees the U900 will feature a long list of functions and gadgetry. Complementing the touch panel is fast 7.2Mbps HSDPA data speeds, a 5-megapixel camera phone with an LED flash, plus the regular raft of mobile functionality like stereo Bluetooth connectivity.
The handset we've been reviewing is actually titled the U900T and has been released on Telstra's Next G network — the same phone offered through Optus, Vodafone and Virgin is known as the U900. This gives you access to Telstra's services including Foxtel and Bigpond. The U900 is also being advertised as Samsung's official phone for the Beijing Olympics, and when the time comes Telstra plans to offer Olympic video highlights which will be available for customers with the U900, amongst others.
As a Telstra phone, the U900T is also one of the first handsets to come with the newpre-installed. We're not sure whether this will become the next must-have phone feature, or disappear like so many gimmicky extras before (we're looking at you push-to-talk).