CNET First Look
Samsung ImpressionThe Samsung Impression isn't perfect, but it ranks high on our list as a messaging and multimedia phone.
[ background music ] >> Hi, I'm Kent German, senior editor here at CNET.com. Today we're gonna take a first look at the Samsung Impression. It's a brand new phone for AT and T, debuted at the CTIA 2009 show, and just a few days later we managed to get a review model of it. It did win our favorite phone of CTIA 2009, and after a look I can say that I still very like it a lot. Overall it has a very appealing shape. It is a little big, it's a little heavy, so it's bigger than the LG's Xenon, which also came out at CTIA 2009. But I definitely prefer it over the LG, like it a little bigger, it feels a little nicer in the hands, a little more spacious, and just a little more eye catching in a lot of ways. Does have a dark blue color, it may look black, but it is a very deep blue. Like the curved edges, but the best thing is its display. It's really brilliant, it's bright, it's three inches, which is the minimum size we request from a touch screen. This is just above that, but manages to be pretty spacious, I could really get in there and work around and find what I needed. The iPhone is three point five inches, which is really good, but this is a nice in between. Anything below three inches, typically I can't handle cause it's just too small. But graphics are really sharp, animations look great, colors are really brilliant, so definitely a nice screen, really the highlight of the phone in many ways. It's also very responsive, has a haptics feedback. You can adjust the calibration and the intensity of the feedback. It does feature Samsung's touch wiz. Of course what that is, is that's this little bar that goes down here on the side, you can hide it or you can show it. There's a lot of icons here. These are called widgets, they take you directly to certain applications. You can press and hold them in the bar, or if you want, you can drag them outside, like the clock there, and then they pop up and maximize and so you can see the whole thing. So down below we have on screen controls so it'll take you to the main menu, the phone dialer and the context list. Main menu's pretty simple, just icon based, it's pretty easy to use. Icons are large, I had no problem going in and finding what we needed. The phone dialer will be your primary interface for dialing numbers if they're not in your context menu. I did find that the numbers on the controls were pretty big, there is letters as well. So you can use this to tap out text messages. Not really sure why you'd want to when you have a full keyboard, but the option certainly is available. Three physical controls down below, you have a talk, and power button, and a clear key. Here on the side you have a volume rocker, this button will turn on some on screen shortcuts that will take you to various functions like the phone dialer, messaging, web browser, things like that. Over here on the other side you have a camera button, handset locking switch, so you can press that and the screen will lock up so you don't press anything accidentally. Here on the back there is the camera lens. It is a three mega pixel camera which is nice, no flash there which is disappointing, also no self portrait mirror. There's a speaker right above, and on the top of the phone there is the proprietary headset jack, charger port. Samsung is getting better by moving toward that common micro USB charger port, so it is disappointing though that we still see the proprietary jack. That means you can only use one at a time, headset or the charger. Of course you can't use your own headset unless you get an adapter. The micro SD slot is behind the battery cover, you don't have to remove the battery as well. To expose the keyboard, turn the phone on its side, slide it up. You'll see that the orientation of some things on the display changes automatically. The icons on the touch wiz bar do. So as we move back and forth you can see that they do that. The only thing that doesn't change is the wallpaper, I found that just a little bit disconcerting that I was kind of looking at the thing a little askew. But you'll get used to that. Here we can see that the keyboard is pretty roomy, it's spacious, I really liked it in a lot of ways. The buttons are pretty flat with the surface of the phone, which is to be expected since you have the slider action there. The only problem I had is there are not a lot of shortcut keys, so the only thing is the messaging button down below. But there is the symbol key you can see here, function, shift, spacebar's just a little bit small but you know, it's not too bad overall. And now our navigation keys right here for scrolling through the menu. Inside you'll find a lot of multimedia features. There's a three mega pixel camera, there's cellular video, which is of course AT and T stream video service, there's AT and T music, there's also AT and T video share, and you'll find AT and T navigator for turn by turn GPS directions. You'll also find Bluetooth organizer functions, a speakerphone. There's no voice dialing, which I was disappointed by. I felt a phone of this caliber really should have voice dialing, that would be very important. It is a 3G phone, UMTS, it's not just GPA. But it is quad band, so you should be able to get calls from those countries around the world. So overall a really good messaging phone. Is missing that voice dialing, and there are some design quirks that I wasn't particularly in love with. But if you're looking for a multimedia phone that can send messages through AT and T, this is definitely a great option. Call quality was pretty good as well. The stream video quality was great, and what I liked about the streaming video quality as well is that it almost takes up the full display. So a lot of times you may see that and it only takes up half of it. So it's nice to see that they take full advantage. When it is big, the pixelation you can see a little bit, but that's really to be expected on any kind of streaming video phone over 3G. I'm Kent German, and this is the Samsung Impression.