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Samsung Z400 review: Samsung Z400

This 3G slider with a 2-megapixel camera is a very agreeable compromise for those wanting a few business-focused features in an everyday phone.

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Ella Morton
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Ella Morton

Ella was an Associate Editor at CNET Australia.

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3 min read
Design

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7.8

Samsung Z400

The Good

3G in a slim package. Lovely looking display. Satisfyingly springy slider. Can save battery power easily by switching to non-3G.

The Bad

Disappointing Web browsing. No memory card included. Glossy surface prone to smudges.

The Bottom Line

A good choice if you want a phone for work days and weekends, as long as you're not fussed about push e-mail and mobile Web use.

Wait a second, haven't we seen this phone before? Uh, twice? Seemingly a proponent of the "when you're on a good thing, stick to it" philosophy, Samsung has kept to a standard design for many of its recent slider phones. But while the Z400 is a near-clone of last year's D500 and D600, there is one big difference -- this model's 3G.

Measuring 49mm by 97mm by 19mm and tipping the scales at 107g, the Z400 is no bigger than its non-3G predecessors. The rounded edges also make it seem a lot more compact than 3G slider models such as Nokia's N80, and one-handed operation is easy.

The sharp 240 x 320 pixel screen is impressive, but the glossy surface seems to seek out smudges. Beneath the display, a large navigation key sits between two soft keys, with send, end and clear buttons below. A ridge under the screen allows the Z400 to be slid open without thumbs straying to the buttons by accident.

Sliding the phone up -- an immensely satisfying experience given the mechanism's springiness -- reveals a 2-megapixel camera with a large "ego-cam" mirror up top and a curved keypad down below. On the left side are the dedicated volume keys and a MicroSD card slot (unfortunately without a card included). The right side features a camera launch key, shortcut button for accessing frequently used applications, and a covered slot for charging and plugging in the headset.

Features
The Z400 is being marketed -- at least in this country -- as a business phone, but with no push e-mail capabilities, it's unlikely to compete with models such as Nokia's enterprise-friendly E series. Samsung reckons the phone will be a winner with "mid-career managers and multi-tasking professionals", and we sort of agree -- as long as said professionals prefer sporadic, user-initiated e-mail checking and Web browsing. Other nominally business-focused features include voice recording, mobile printing and a document viewer.

One novel feature we liked was the call drop/connection vibration function, where the phone vibrates upon connection with the number you've dialled. Sure, the time saved is probably a matter of seconds, but it's convenient to set the phone down for a few moments instead of plastering it against your head.

Another inclusion we haven't seen before is the "Mobile Tracker" system. This security feature sends an SMS to a nominated number when the SIM card in the Z400 is replaced, providing the mobile number of the new card. That could make for some interesting phone conversations -- what would you say to the person who stole your phone to try and convince them to return it?

While there are a lot of little touches that make the Z400 endearing -- such as the ability to change fonts, sizes, colours -- there are also a few quirks that irritate, especially if you are a frequent texter with a passion for correct grammar. Inserting capital letters into an SMS -- perhaps a lost cause, but we pedantically soldier on -- requires a lot of button pushing, and entry mode does not revert to normal when you start a new sentence.

Performance
Battery life was good at around three days, and we appreciated the ability to easily switch down to GSM 900/1800 in the settings menu in order to conserve power.

Having been spoiled by the excellent browser included in Nokia's recent E and N series phones, we were disappointed with the way Web pages displayed on the Z400's screen. Popular sites such as the Sydney Morning Herald site were unable to load due to memory issues, a problem we never encountered when reviewing the N80. The preset BigPond portal homepage allows you to get a fix of news headlines and offers a basic interface for searching Sensis mobile and checking Web-based e-mail accounts, but it's Internet Lite -- nowhere near as satisfying as the real thing.

Photos taken with the 2-megapixel camera were surprisingly good, but the omission of a flash means that your snaps won't turn out well in low light conditions. Shooting modes such as "mosaic" are more gimmicky than useful -- if you're after a phone with a more photography and video-capture options, the Nokia N80 is a good, though substantially pricier, choice.

In general, we found the Z400 to be user-friendly and intuitive, but wouldn't choose it as a business-only phone. It does however represent a very agreeable compromise for those wanting a few work features without becoming slaves to the demands of push e-mail.

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