Samsung Soul Preview

Samsung Soul Preview
Widely advertised during the MWC Expo, Samsung Soul is supposed to be the company’s flagship model for 2008. The Koreans even threw a huge party during the show, named after the device to celebrate its birth.

During our talks with Samsung, they made it very clear – the Soul will be their leading model. Being the flagship model, doesn’t mean that is their most feature rich or advanced device, but rather a device, which will get the most advertising, lead the rest in terms of design language and so forth.

Design-wise, the changes are not groundbreaking compared with the U600 (considered by Samsungs as its predecessor). Our first impression is that the Soul has more masculine look. Again, this is completely subjective and we will not press our opinion on you.

The actual design features can be clearly seen from our images, so we’ll only describe the specifics. The first and foremost important change is the new “Magic Touch” screen. If you have read and paid attention to our MWC coverage, you should right away make a connection with another device launched at the event, which has very close resembles to the Soul. We are talking about the LG KF600 of course. Again, there is just a resemblance, as the two touch-sensitive areas work in different ways. On the KF600, this area is the same width as the main screen and in addition to the d-pad functionality carries also the soft and the send/end keys as well. In contrast, the Magic Touch, seen on the Soul, is about 2/3 of the main screen’s size and does not substitute the soft and send/end keys which are regular hardware ones.

How the touch area is made use of, is the other major difference. On the KF600, it displays different icons or actions depending where you are. In addition, those icons are color-coded. Samsung’s solution is simpler and most of the time the touch area is used as a D-pad and for confirmation. The instances where it actually shows different actions is in the Home menu (four shortcuts), the music player (music navigation), the camera (flash, micro, exposure compensation, self-timer) and in the calculator (+,-, =). At all other times, the touch area is used as a regular D-pad.

The rest of the interface is very similar if not identical to the one found in G600. The Main Menu is visualized in a grid of 3x4 icons, which enlarge when selected and show their Title. The phone comes preloaded with a few themes, which only change the color schemes and the menu background.

The coolest thing is that if you don’t like the preloaded themes, an option to create (or edit) your own is offered directly in the phone itself. The results are very good and this way you can adjust the colors of the themes, to fit your taste.

The G600 was the first model of the manufacturer to have Phone profiles. We had no idea why it took Samsung so many years to realize that users need different sound and other settings throughout their day. We are happy to report, that the user feedback was probably positive (of course it will be!), so that feature is kept in the Soul as well.

The phonebook is the same one we saw in the U700 and is currently the most advanced one. In a nutshell, it allows up to 1,000 contacts and each can have unlimited number of, for example, Mobile Phones. The contacts are displayed as a vertical list, and when you select one, its number and small image (if one is attached) show up. The search option gets results only by the first name, which is an unpleasant problem of most non-smart telephones. The contacts can be sorted in groups that allow for a common image and ringtone to be set.

The rest of the interface features are identical with the U700’s and we didn’t see any major differences.

For connectivity, unlike the Ultra II series, the Soul not only offers HSDPA high-speed data, but also its 7.2 Mbps type – currently the fastest possible! Unfortunately, for us in the US, it is only UMTS 2100 MHz, so it cannot be used here.

To bring excellent Internet browsing experience, the Soul comes with Access 2007 full HTML browser. Overall, as we have said this before – one of the best phones currently on the market.

If you are a frequent PhoneArena visitor, we hope you will agree that we do the best camera-phone image quality comparisons on the Net. In our most recent one, the G600 actually took the second place, just after the all-around winner Nokia N82. In contrast, the supposed Samsung "King of cameras" G800 scored only fifth place. As our units are not final, we do not see a point in actually discussing their camera performance. As soon as we are provided with production samples, we will do our magic and tell you exactly how it scores compared to the other 5-megapixel cameraphones on the market. In case you want to read our latest (posted Jan 5 2008) camera shootout (between N82, N95 8GB, K850, G800 and G600) please read it here.

In the multimedia department, the Soul is again very much like the G600 without any differences.

Expect our full review when final, commercial samples are released.

Check out the Preview's gallery for more pictures!

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