Every fashion house and their coiffured Chihuahua seem to want to trade the catwalk for the world of mobiles. Prada, Dolce & Gabbana, Ted Baker, Levi’s and, er, Cath Kidson have all teamed up with various manufacturers to launch exclusive handsets – and next to order a slice of the mobile flan is Italian designer Giorgio Armani.
Mr. Armani has chosen Samsung for this collaboration and, like rival Prada, its handset is of the touch-screen variety. The major surprise is how dinky and slight the Armani blower appears. Compared to the svelte LG Prada it’s a wee slither of a phone, measuring a deliciously size zero slim 10.5mm and flaunting a 2.6-inch display.
And like Armani’s togs, the phone is immaculately tailored, feeling and handling like a premium handset. It certainly matches the iPhone in the ‘my precious’ stakes but seriously trails the Jesus Machine when it comes to touch-screen dynamics.
The Armani phone uses Samsung’s Croix touch user-interface first seen in the F700. This was generally responsive to your taps, but on the Armani it proves more erratic. It has nothing to do with the smaller screen-size; your fingerprints are accommodated nicely, although it does struggle when scrolling through menus. No, the frustration lies when it reacts like a frigid lover and slows simple operations down. It’s mightily vexing.
Of course, sod’s law dictates that the touch-screen will inadvertently activate while nestled in the inside pocket of your Armani pin-stripe, but there is at least a side hold button on hand to lock-up shop.
Another annoyance is its connectivity shortcomings. Armani don’t do 3G, darling. EDGE is all the rage apparently and this download speed compromise, along with a thorny touch UI, makes web browsing a melange of misplaced finger swipes and accidental weblink activation. An arduous experience all round.
The three-megapixel snapper hints that the Armani phone might have substance after all. It’s got one-up on the LG Prada phone’s two-megapixeller but disappointingly lacks autofocus and potent flash. Picture quality is merely OK and lacks sharpness, although it does represent colours naturally.
Video capture is another feature that settles for a middle-of-the-road performance. You can shoot in either 352x288 pixels at 15fps or a smoother 30fps at a slightly lower 320x240 pixel resolution. The former features less digital noise.
Hobbled music player
A ludicrously slow memory card processing performance shackles an otherwise decent music player. Choose an album or skip a track stored on a microSD card and the music player wheezes into action like an asthmatic sloth. When the tunes eventually fire up, you have a four-mode equaliser to adapt the audio and support for Stereo Bluetooth for a wireless exploits.
If good looks could kill then the Armani phone would be wanted for mass murder. But unfortunately, its elegant haute couture style is upstaged by a wobbly Naomi Campbell-esque catwalk performance. Yet another fashion phone that can’t quite nail the balance between style and substance.