Samsung SGH-F490 Preview
SGH-F700. In the next 12 months, another similar phone appeared, but branded as a Giorgio Armani device.
Inthis preview, we will take a look at the newest family member, the SGHF490. At first look, we can say that it is a high-class multimediaphone, targeting the high-tech oriented audience. The essentialdifference from the firstborn is the lack of a hardware keyboard, butin contrast, it is much slimmer and elegant.
The phone we are testing is a prototype, and so we will publish a preview instead of review. For our in-depth performance tests, we always use final units, in order to give you realistic results.
Thereare not that many options for the design of a full touch screen phonewithout a keyboard. That is why the image of the F490 did not surpriseus. It is the well-known candy bar with dimensions of 4.5 x 2.1 x 0.5inches (115 x 53.3 x 11.8 mm) and weighing at 3.6 oz (102 g). Its edgesare slightly rounded, giving it a streamlined shape, but not as sleekas the iPhone.
3.2” displaywith 240х432 pixels resolution, is located on the front. In contrast toF700, it reacts to the touch of any solid objects and not only fingers.Above it, we have the video calling camera and below it are theanswer/end and main menu buttons. All of them are touch sensitive andare illuminated in white. The entire front is covered in the alreadystandard mirror surface.
The dark silver line encircling thephone, gives it some shine as well. Below it, we have a few hardwarebuttons with various functions. On the right,we see the camera shutter (extremely important, since it unlocks thephone during a call), the shortcuts button and the lock key. The lastone has the role of a power switch also. On the other side are locatedthe charger/cable for PC connection/headphones and the volume rocker.Fortunately, for all music lovers, the phone has a 3.5 mm jack, locatedon the top.
The back ofthe phone is extremely clean and aside from the manufacturer’s logo,there is only the 5-megapixel camera with the flash. The microSD slotis positioned very strangely, not only under the lid, but under the SIMcard too and without any external markings, indicating its presence.
Overall, F490 is a good example of the amount of impressive hardware that can fit in a slim sized phone.
As we already mentioned, the model uses Croix user interface, we know from F700 and Armani. It is fully optimized to work without a keyboard, with large icons. As a plus, we can mention the good speed that the interface reacts with to touch. Scrolling through the menus is done by lightly running a finger across the screen in the direction desired, and not like in other phones (such as Viewty), where it seems that you have to grab the list and pull it hard.
software 12-key numpad.
The worst part of the interface is the lack of personalization options, from the boring icons in the main menu to the unchangeable shortcuts. The latter are in the form of a screen with five positions arranged in the shape of a cross, from which comes the name of the interface - “Croix” means “Cross” in French.
Nowadays, all manufacturers are trying to offer the customers as many options to customize their devices as possible. Luckily, apparently Samsung already has realized the drawbacks of its interface and have prepared another one – the so called TouchWiz first seen in the F480.
The music player is the same one seen in the F700. A fact that makes the hairs on our backs stand up, since it’s not the best option and it takes some time to get used to its eccentric controls. At least you can sort the tracks in your playlist by artist, composer, album, genre etc.
The phone has a multiple video format file support - WMV, MPEG4, H.263, H.264 and the option for landscape view. This, combined with the large display and the pocket friendly size make it a serious rival to the Viewty for the title „my favorite portable video theater “. Unfortunately, the lack of DivX support puts a barrier in front of the F490.
The third tile that the F490 is competes for is for an Internet mobile device without being a smartphone. With the help of the HSDPA capability, the phone manages to be a contender in that discipline as well. However, it lacks Wi-Fi and for now, it can be used only in Europe and Asia, since it is a tri-band GSM. Its Internet browser (NetFront 3.4) looks promising. It has landscape view, zoom in/out (activated by the volume rocker), pan mode (called page pilot) and smart fit. You can access the options menu by just holding your finger somewhere on the screen. This is quite convenient, but is far below the features offered by the leader in the field, iPhone.
Similar to F700, F490’s hardware was a pleasant surprise, but the software, with its Croix interface, was a disappointment. We still hope that Samsung will put TouchWiz in the final version (as they told us during MWC 2008).
Expect our full review when final, commercial samples are released.