The Apple iPhone has a lot to answer for. Since it showed its touchscreen face last year other phones have felt obliged to invent a crazy new UI and, as the LG KF600 InteractPad showed, they haven’t always been successful.
Undeterred, Samsung has gone down the contextual touchpad route with the new Soul U900. It has much in common with the KF750 Secret, including a 5megapixel camera and lickety-split HSDPA download speeds. And, as the final member of the Ultra Edition gang, it packs this into a slender, metallic frame.
A kind of magic
Unlike the Secret, Samsung confines the convenient ‘Magic Touch’ navigation to a small front window, and we’re pleased to report its responsiveness is almost impeccable. There’s no moody reaction to your thumb taps and you can even tinker with its sensitivity level to customise the four feature shortcuts to suit your taste.
The ever-changing touchpad is joined by mechanical soft and call buttons and a spacious keypad. Combined with the intuitive Samsung UI, this makes the Soul a joy to use, particularly compared to the KF600.
Red hot snapper
The 5megapixel snapper is similar to the sharp-shooting G600, a Stuff favourite, and is an expert in macro mode when zooming in for close-ups.
General photo quality is sharp and colourful, although the absence of a Xenon flash is a smidge disappointing. The power LED isn’t really canny enough to evenly illuminate low-lit areas, so the inclusion of ISO and white balance settings come to the rescue if you tinker with photo settings.
The music player is equally impressive, with a Bang & Olufsen ICEpower digital amp to provide the audio grunt and a nine-mode equaliser to tailor the sound. Frustratingly, a 3.5mm headphone adaptor isn’t bundled, but luckily the fidelity sounded voluminous through the supplied earphones. Naturally, the Soul also supports Stereo Bluetooth for adventures in wireless streaming.
HSDPA web slinger
The web experience is good too, with turbo HSDPA speeds provide a perfect foil for the Soul’s NetFront browser. You can also choose to view pages in full-fat desktop splendour or squeezed to fit the sparkling 16-million colour 2.2in screen.
The Soul is a genuinely handsome handset that’s loaded with a first-class set of features and a surprisingly smooth operating contextual touch pad. It may not have the LG Secret’s video capturing talents but it’s a more attractive and fun phone to use.
The Samsung Soul is available from Carphone Warehouse