Have you ever been hanging out to watch a movie only to be left desperately disappointed when you saw it? After watching all the trailers you rushed to the cinema and realised that all the promise was squandered into 90-miuntes of boring story, shirtless wrestling, and growled one-liners? Damn you 300!
The Samsung Widescreen has promise too. It is, after all, one of the fastest HSDPA phones available -- capable of speeds of up to 7.2Mbps -- and features an ingenious dual-flip design for viewing the screen either in profile, like a standard clamshell, or in the titular "Widescreen" for when you're watching videos or typing long messages and e-mails. However, ingenious design is met with equally poor design, and the result is a clumsy-feeling handset that performs well as a mobile TV, but is much more difficult to use for basic phone functions than it should be.
We've seen a few funky moving screens lately, the swivel screen of the comes to mind, and there's no doubting the dual-flip design of the 2.3-inch Widescreen is a great idea. The concept is extended with context-sensitive buttons on the keypad, some of which are only functional when the screen is opened in one of the directions, and others having dual functionality depending on which screen mode you are currently in.
But the keypad is also the great letdown in the Widescreen's design. In the space provided the hybrid QWERTY/numeric keypad is a terrible idea. The alphabetical keys are absolutely tiny; the same problem we saw with the Sony Ericsson, but with the Widescreen there are twice as many miniature keys to navigate around. Using the QWERTY key layout in Widescreen mode is particularly awkward because the keys lay vertically. This makes it especially difficult for typing with your thumbs, which feels more natural when holding the phone lengthways.
At 115g the Widescreen feels slightly heavier than phones of a similar size, but not considerably. The dimensions of the phone keep it portable, though the plastic fascia makes the device seem cheaply constructed. The user interface and menu structure, while practical and simple to navigate, are lacklustre and unattractive.
HSDPA broadband should be the saving grace of the Samsung Widescreen. You can definitely see the speed of the connection when watching Foxtel or buying music off the BigPond Web portal, but surfing the Web on the built-in browser is similarly excruciating to using phones with 2.5G connections, which seems ridiculous. As well, several of our favourite sites -- namely CNET.com.au -- failed to open: the Widescreen offering a variety of excuses and not a lot of joy.
The 2-megapixel camera is a highlight; even though the focus in the pictures is slightly soft it seems to reproduce colours nicely -- perfect for those impromptu happy snaps of kids and vomiting friends. It even has a cool panoramic photo option that connects three separate pics into one long super-photo, a feature that works surprisingly well. Do be aware that the camera has no flash so you'll want to avoid snapping your photos at night time. There's also a second front-facing camera for video-calling.