Samsung's handsome F700 is the latest phone to attempt to thwack the iPhone off its touchscreen podium. Can its QWERTY keypad give it the edge?
The handful of so-called 'iPhone killers' have so far inflicted nothing worse than Chinese burns on Jobsy's touchscreen beauty. The LG Viewty and HTC Touch may pack more potent features but, without the magic of Apple's multi-touch, are more supermarket own-brands than the real deal.
Not that this has deterred the Samsung F700, a touchscreen smartphone that makes no attempt to hide the source of its inspiration – its glossy façade and classy construction are the closest any of the touch-brigade have come to mimicking the iPhone's futuristic styling.
But it also comes with a secret weapon, for inside that chunky profile is a full-blown, sliding QWERTY keypad...
A Croix to bear
While those keys might seem a blessing for anyone who's struggled with the iPhone's virtual keyboard, it's also there to give the F700's 'Croix' graphics a helping hand. Despite the large, 3.2in widescreen and sizeable on-screen buttonage, inputting text on-screen is still laborious, making the spacious QWERTY a handy back-up.
Nevertheless, the F700 is definitely the best non-iPhone touch UI to date. It's nowhere near as fluid and sensitive as Apple's take but it is responsive to your finger taps, which are greeted by a vibrating pulse. And scrolling through the menus is surprisingly comfortable compared to other iPhone wannabes.
The F700's HSDPA download speeds race past the iPhone's Mr Plod EDGE, but then the phone shoots itself in the foot by not having Wi-Fi. Doh! Still, full-fat web pages load swiftly, as do tracks from Vodafone's MusicStation service.
Right now, the F700 is exclusive to Voda, so for £2 a month you can download unlimited tracks straight to your handset. It sounds like a sweet deal, but don't be fooled: cancel the subscription and you lose your music.
Pop pickers will, however, appreciate the integrated 3.5mm headphone jack, despite the fact that it's covered by an annoying flap. That said, the music player sounds strong through the supplied headphones even without any audio enhancements.
Naturally it sounds even more dynamic through your own classy cans. And if you're increasingly hassled by cable tangle, the F700 supports Stereo Bluetooth for a wireless workout.
Camera not a Viewty
The three-megapixel snapper with autofocus whips the iPhone's meagre 2mp version but is woefully disappointing against the awesome firepower of its closest rival, the LG Viewty. Picture quality sometimes errs on the blurry side, while the LED flash is a lightweight.
Samsung has embedded Web 2.0 apps like Google Maps and YouTube, so you can get directions or watch the latest football-in-the-groin home vids on the move. All your content and multimedia clobber is shared between the generous 100MB of internal memory and a microSD card under the battery.
Despite these handy extras, the F700 is yet another iPhone challenger to fall by the wayside. It's undeniably stylish, relatively kind on the fingers and flaunts some neat flourishes like the keypad. But you get the feeling the F700 is a work in progress while Samsung readies the F450 – its fully touch-sensitive phone with a 5mp camera.
Let's see if the Korean outfit can lick the contact phone thang second time round.
Samsung F700 review
A stylish multimedia phone, but the ticklish UI doesn't hold a candle to the iPhone's revolutionary touch skills