Samsung Shark 2 S5550 Review

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Introduction and Design
This is a global GSM phone, it can be used with AT&T and T-Mobile, but without 3G.

Introduction:


The Shark series by Samsung is a line of three feature phones that focuses mainly on style and reliability. Neither of them is designed to offer great functionality, but all of them will be there when you need to make an urgent phone call. The most sophisticated of the three is the Samsung Shark 2 S5550, as it tries to cross the line between basic and multifunctional handsets, by featuring a 5-megapixel autofocus camera with LED flash. Even more, with its 2.2-inch AMOLED display, it takes some of the eye candy we normally see in high-end touchscreen phones and brings it to the mainstream market.

The package contains the standard stuff, nothing extra:
•    Samsung Shark 2 S5550
•    Wall charger
•    Wired handsfree
•    Data cable

Design:

It is great that the Shark line hasn’t gotten its name on a random basis. Although you may have to get your imagination working in order to discover the similarities with the sweet little fish, all three handsets undeniably share the same design language with smooth curves and streamlined bodies. Once opened, the S5550 assumes the characteristic torpedo-like shape that sharks have.

The Samsung Shark 2 S5550 feels really nice in the hand; it can be comfortably operated in both closed and opened mode, which isn’t typical of every slider out there. Build quality is good on the whole, although the slider wobbles just a little, and the nicely-patterned back cover is plastic, instead of metal as on the Shark S5350.



You can compare the Samsung Shark 2 S5550 with many other phones using our Size Visualization Tool.

The image quality of the Shark 2’s 2.2-inch screen is more than satisfying, thanks both to the AMOLED technology and the decent resolution of 240x320 pixels. While the diagonal of the panel is nothing spectacular, colors are saturated and the viewing angle is great, with no loss of quality. Still, we feel the relatively small size kind of takes the appeal away from it. You will also need to shield the display with your hand, if you want to read it outdoors in direct sunlight.

All the keys of the Samsung Shark 2 S5550 are more than usable. They have a pleasant click to them so you can never mistake it when you’ve pressed one. This, of course, applies to the numeric keypad as well, which is one of the best we have used. Its buttons are perfectly sized, so you don’t need to use your fingernails to press.



We found it rather disappointing that Samsung has decided to stick with its proprietary port, instead of the standard microUSB. The fact that the more basic Shark S5350 sports microUSB however, leads us to think this has been done in order to keep the price reasonable, having in mind the presence of AMOLED screen and 5MP camera. The microSD card slot is inconveniently placed under the battery.



On the whole, the characteristic looks, comfortable to hold shape, lovely screen and perfect keypad make the Samsung Shark 2 S5550 one truly respectable phone, in terms of design. Let’s see how it stacks up when it comes to software and more importantly, camera and sound quality.


Samsung Shark 2 S5550 360 Degrees View:





Interface and Functionality:

We weren’t fascinated to find out that the Samsung Shark 2 S5550 has the same interface that’s been on non-touch feature phones of the manufacturer for quite some time now. You can personalize it to an extent by choosing different themes (or creating yours with the built-in theme creator) and it works fast, but it is just the same old experience we’ve been seeing over and over again. It would have been great to see a few innovations introduced, but alas, nothing has been changed.



We were disappointed with the lack of additional applications on the Samsung Shark 2 S5550 too. Palringo is on board to handle your IM needs, but there are no social networking apps. There are just shortcuts to Facebook’s, Twitter’s and MySpace’s mobile sites on the homescreen. And since real third party social applications would hardly run smoothly on the Shark 2, we feel users will be better off with the mobile sites anyway. While we are on the topic of mobile sites, we should say the Access-powered browser is good enough for a quick Google search every now and then, or a Wikipedia look-up, but if you plan on loading more complex sites, better look elsewhere. It is too slow and navigation is a pain in the neck.



A crucial factor for the Samsung Shark 2 S5550’s value is the performance of its 5-megapixel autofocus camera. We are perfectly fine with the outdoor shots we took with the camera. They have good amount of detail and look very realistic. We also managed to snap some good ones when indoors. Naturally, as lighting conditions get worse, the photos become blurrier and noisier. We’re glad that the LED flash does a good job to provide enough light in darker and even pitch black places. If the shooter didn’t live up to its specs, the Shark 2 would have sunk like a stone with no feature to justify its price. Fortunately, it’s good enough.





Video recording gets done in QVGA resolution, which means not much detail, but at least the FPS is pretty high at 30. Sound is rather muffled though, so the final result is a mix of goods and bads.

Samsung Shark 2 S5550 sample video at 320x240 pixels resolution.

The music player is the same old one, so we hoped to at least hear some sweet tunes through the headset from the box. No luck here, as it’s a bit on the sharper side, with no decent bass to balance it out. This doesn’t mean listening to music is an unpleasant experience though. The loudspeaker on the other hand performs nice, with no crackling and good power.



You can watch MPEG-4 videos with resolution of 320x240 pixels on the Shark 2’s AMOLED screen and as long as you do not exceed that resolution, playback will be smooth. Actually, if you exceed it, there won’t be video playback at all.





Performance and conclusion:

Phone quality on the Samsung Shark 2 S5550 turned out unsatisfying, to say the least. On our end voices were loud enough, but also a bit sharp and monotonous. Actually, it’s a bad thing that the same cannot be said about the opposite end. Sound quality there was very poor, with lots of sharpness and crackling noises. Not a cool thing if you want to get ahead of the competition in this particular market segment.

When it comes to battery life however, the Shark 2 is top-notch with its rated 11.7 hours of talk time and 26 days of stand-by. After five days of usage (including mostly calls and taking pictures), the battery indicator was at 1/3.

The Samsung Shark 2 S5550 is a good attempt by the manufacturer to create a strong handset for the mainstream market. It seems like it misses the mark by just a bit though, and we feel the dated interface and poor call quality are to blame here. This, however, does not change the fact that the Shark 2 is a pretty cool phone with a characteristic design and a quite capable camera, so if that’s what you wish, then the Samsung Shark 2 S5550 is totally worth it.

If you are looking for a similar handset with a little more emphasis on style, then you might want to check the LG New Chocolate BL20. In case you want a larger screen and GPS, then the Samsung Ultra S might be just the right choice. You can also wait some more for the eco-centric Sony Ericsson Hazel to come out, if you’d like a phone with such an idea.

Samsung Shark 2 S5550 Video Review:





Pros

  • Characteristic, shark-like design
  • Good 5-megapixel camera
  • Outstanding keypad
  • AMOLED display is always good to have

Cons

  • Poor call quality
  • Same old interface

PhoneArena Rating:

8.2

User Rating:

8.3
1 Reviews

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