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As mentioned above, the Samsung F500 belongs to the Dual Face line of products. In it, the company designers faced the complicated task of simultaneously uniting two devices into one body while sticking to the slim design. The unit’s dimensions are 116.4 x 50 x 10.7 mm (4.6 x 2 x 0.4 in.) and it weighs 7.5g (3.8 oz.), which brings it close to the big and heavy devices. But in view of the fact that the user gets both a phone and a video player (on the two sides of one unit), dimensions and weight would seem to be fully acceptable.

On one side is the phone part, whose screen resolution is 220 x 176 Pixels / 65,536 colors with a landscape orientation. Colors displayed are bright and well-contrasted, making the screen visible at even direct sunlight so that one will not need to shade it. At first glance it seems fairly small, but this is for a good reason: the unit’s other “face” - the multimedia device – is on the other side.

We have an entirely different picture here: the big 2.4 inch display with 320 x 240 Pixels resolution and 262,144 colors sticks out a mile. Despite featuring more colors than the first one, we were not able to make out the difference between the two. This one is also well-contrasted and vivid, enabling trouble-free work with the menus of the multimedia part at even direct sunlight. Regrettably, details are quite difficult to perceive when watching video in such circumstances; and in case the scene setting is darker, one will not actually be able to grasp the subject-matter. Let us not be that demanding, though; one can hardly watch normally even a TV when the sun is shining onto the screen. However, we will not spare critical remarks either; because there is actually room for improvement: the Samsung’s display is one step behind, compared with that of Nokia 5700 XpressMusic (and other Nokia models).

The glass, protecting the big display, is too close to the LCD itself, which will alter its coloration at even a slight pressing (like when pressing your LCD monitor). This is why we would recommend not putting the phone into your pocket with other objects, which might press and possibly damage the display.

In order to impress us stronger, Samsung designers have chosen to add something even more interesting to the appearance of the device with the aim to distinguish it from F300. Besides being a Dual Face, the handset features a rotating lower part like the one of Nokia 5700 XpressMusic. With both units, the conception is to position them conveniently while watching videos on the display. Though the intention might have been the same, realizing it is quite different; rotation here is to 180 degrees and the axis is in one end, rather than in the middle, as with 5700. Thus, apart from turning it to a convenient position rather easily, one is even capable of setting the angle of observation instead of using the fixed position at every 90 degrees. Despite being tight enough, the mechanism opens with ease; what is more, during the period when the phone was with us, we did not feel any loosening. Another (stopping) mechanism secures the fully closed and opened positions, so there is hardly any probability that it would open while being carried in or taken out of the pocket.

Controlling the two sides follows two different patterns. The phone part has a standard numeric pad with the buttons of each row physically united into one. Despite this order their usage did not pose a problem for us; on sliding the forefinger on the surface, one can feel the rubber separator between the rows. Control keys are situated around the five-position navigation button above. All of them are lit in the color of the inscriptions and, as you can see, apart from the red and green receivers, all the rest are backlit in white. As a whole, the buttons on the phone part are easy to press and have a good tactile feedback, so operating the headset was not a problem even for thick-fingered people. The only difficulty we experienced was the occasional pressing of “C” instead of the navigation button lower position.

The multimedia part is also very pleasant to manage. This is done through the sensor buttons next to the display, which activate various options depending on whether you touch them or sweep your finger on their surface. The sweeping design is quite reminiscent of the mobile computers’ touch pad: in case one has the relevant experience, controlling the F500 will seem fairly easy and natural. The only non-sensor key is the central „Play/pause”, which causes some embarrassment at the start. We mean that while ‘browsing” the player menu one uses sensor buttons, so, when coming to the point of playing a file, it comes by habit to activate the “Play/pause” by mere touch as well. Anyway, after some attempts you will get accustomed and this will no longer make any impression, but in general we consider it to be a minor drawback. One possible cause for the designers of F500 to refer to such peculiarity of the controls is confusing keys, which might occur at shifting one’s finger from “rewind” to “fast forward” or from “Option” to “Menu exit”. When doing so without the necessary care one is very likely to involuntarily activate the “Play/pause” button if it were also a sensor one.

The remaining buttons that take part in controlling both devices are located on the sides. It is here that you will find the slider switching between the two displays (slide down) and keypad locking (slide up). However, the relief of its surface may render this switch easy to find, but not so to operate. Despite of the fact that one can shift it by both the soft part of the finger and its tip, the easiest way for us was using the nail. The camera button is a little lower; it is only active while using the multimedia part. Slightly bulging, it is easy to grope for and respectively – to press, which is done by only a light touch. There is also the slot for an additional memory card on this side. It is covered by a lid, which protects it from accumulation of dust or other polluting agents. The multi-function jack socket on the opposite side of F500 features the same protection. Here are the volume up and down buttons, which can also be detected by touch and pressed with ease.

The Reset button is located a little lower. The need to place one on the unit is a consequence of another design peculiarity of the “two faces”. You will not see anywhere on the photos a dismantled F500, and for a very simple reason: it cannot be taken to pieces, at least not until it has been brought to a repair shop. That is why its battery is not removable and so the Reset is indispensable for restarting the phone whenever there is need to do so (at crashing). As purely technical explanation will have it, pressing the Reset breaks the power circuit from the battery to the electronic components of the unit, which is equivalent to removing the power supply. This will not lead to losing the settings one has made, so do not feel uneasy about the possibility of erasing valuable data. To prevent an involuntary restart, the button is concealed beneath the corpus and can only be pressed by use of a sharp object, such as the tip of a ball-point pen.

Another peculiarity as a result of the specific design is that the SIM-card slot remains hidden between the two rotating parts, which will allow for its replacement while the set is on. We tested whether the card would be automatically recognized when the phone is operating: F500 was able to restart and do so only once in ten consecutive attempts. When it did not, we had to either reset or switch it off and then – on. Most probably, replacing the card this way has not been thought of. Nonetheless, we decided to try.

The phone’s microphone is also located at a rather unusual place – just above the key “1” between the key pad and the control buttons. We can think of two logical explanations of its odd place: there might not have been enough space below the keypad or the constructors did not want it obstructed when using the Cover battery pack. Its unusual position will not allow for talking while pressing the phone to your ear with the shoulder. Thus your cheek will cover the microphone rendering your speech almost unintelligible at the other end of the line, though they will hear a voice talking.

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