- Thumbs up:
• Lightning fast performance, paired to a great, bespoke Samsung OS
• Connectivity – HSDPA & Wi-Fi
• Really affordable
• 3.5mm audio jack
• Build quality
• Microsoft Exchange ActiveSync
• Best quality screen available
• Very smart predictive text feature
• Super shiny = fingerprints everywhere!
• Resistive touchscreen (uses pressure)
• Illogical widget layout
• Doesn’t sync with Mac
• Unnecessarily complicated Windows sync software
The recession. It’s hit everyone hard, including cell phone manufactures. Nokia is releasing new services to make their current models more enticing. Sony Ericsson is shoving the most obscenely advanced features into their new devices. Blackberry is just making their mobiles friendlier, and as a result practically printing money. Motorola is hiding in the corner, in foetal position.
Samsung, went a very different direction, they decided that the best way to overcome the massive economic downturn, was to release a ton of new devices with cutting edge technology and charge not very much money, for them. One of these new devices is the Samsung Jet, and we have one on test.
Samsung state that the Jet is a new breed of smart phone, with a new proprietary Samsung operating system. We have found thatthere is very rarely a middle ground when it comes to a new smart phone operating system. It’s either going to be great or really, really bad.
The whole phone is made of plastic, which is a bit of a bummer, having a metal casing, trim, back plate or a glass screen really adds to the quality feel of a cell phone. Despite being made entirely out of old Tupperware, the device is actually really solid feeling. It is a nice size, and feels great in the hand,and fits comfortably in the pocket. The Jet actually feels more expensive than it is. This is a good thing, and we expect the Jet to retain its good looks for quite a while.
Samsung got a bee in their bonnet and decided that they “needed” their own operating system. Originally I thought this was a silly idea, there are plenty decent, and customizable smart phone operating systems out there.This was my view until I actually used the Jet. It makes Symbian – the OS used on all Nokia’s smart phones – feel old hack. In actual use it is a very smooth and user friendly OS.
The menu system is logical and very intuitive. You can slide the menu left or right to see more items, currently there are three pages of menu items. On the first page are all the core applications most often used. Slide the menu to the left and there are other applications like the video editor and games that you use less often. There is a third page with more apps like the tasks app and memo app. The third page was a bit of a mystery to us, until we realized you can slide the menu both ways, so it’s not actually the third page at all,there is only a second.
With the launch of the Samsung application store, sometime soon, we hope Samsung can expand on the three pages of applications. Still, It would be nice to see a service like Nokia’s Ovi from Samsung. With an application and music store as well as some Facebook, MySpace, Twitter and Flicker integration. While Samsung offers a great device, accompanying services would create a complete package.
Samsung have made a lot of noise about how fast the processor is in the Jet. Often tech specs don’t hold up from paper to real life. So we thought we’d create some true to life situations, to test if the Jet is as fast as they claim.We timed the Jet against the current two leaders in the touch screen Smartphone market;the iPhone 3G and the Blackberry Storm.
The “I’mSoo Late” Test – Running late, you need to email someone and add a calendar entry.
Gold: iPhone 3G – 1:20.5
Silver: Samsung Jet – 1:25.6
Looser!:Blackberry Storm –1.34.7
While the email and calendar applications opened the fastest on the Jet, the interface is not as polished as the other two, resulting in redundant click-through and pointless sub-menus.
On the Jet you cannot receive HTML email, which means no “I kanhazcheezburger” pics, from your mates. This just makes your day dull and lifeless. The calendar is also not top notch. To set the “end time” and “location” you have to click “set details” this is a bit redundant, as you shouldn’t have to click another button to add those details. As far as core business functions go, the Jet is good, but not great. Samsung must sort out these issues if they want their OS to be taken seriously in the smart phone market.
The “Damn I forgot to call her back!” test – Take your phone out your pocket, search for a contact and call her mobile
Gold: Samsung Jet – 18.7 sec
Silver: Blackberry Storm – 18.8 sec
Looser!: iPhone 3G – 20.3 sec
Even though the iPhone has a better search function for contacts the Samsung Jets mad fast processor comes into play. It makes the other two phones look a bit gelatinous.
The “No officer I was’nt SMSing and driving” Test – You are in traffic, you need to send off a quick “will be late text”
Winner: iPhone 3G – 23.77 sec
Silver: Samsung Jet – 25.92 sec
Looser!: Blackberry Storm – 30.05 sec
Once we looked at the sent messages, we had to disqualify the iPhone 3G, as its predictive text function changed “will be late” to “will ne Kate” The Jet was by far the best to use whilst driving. The Storm was monumentally bad, because you have to press the screen down every time to click a flipping character. This is darn right dangerous!
The Jet is significantly faster in operation, than the other two, due to its processor. The user interface is not quite as smooth and polished. Especially when compared to the iPhone. We can’t wait to see what Samsung does in the very near future as, to be fair, this is their first mobile running their new OS. We hope that within two or so software updates, Samsung will have fixed some of the usability issues.
Samsung has implemented gestures to unock the Jet’s screen. What this meens is that to unlock the Jet, you can either hold down the unlock button on the side; hold down the lock icon on the screen or draw a character (a through z) of your choosing on the screen. Most of the time you land up just holding down the unlock button, but the character unlock feature is very cool. You can also pair certain characters to different application. For instance I paired a “c” to calendar. So when the phone is locked, I swipe a “c” on the screen the Jet unlocks and opens the calendar.
A very usefull feature on the Jet is, in a call if you remove the Jet from your ear and place it on a flat surface it will automatically turn of speakerphone. This is just smart. Well done Samsung! This was a feature we landed up using a lot.
Samsung has normally been first to market with the latest cutting edge technologies in their devices. They appeared to have hit a slump about a year ago, when they weren’t really launching anything new. The Jet makes it obvious that this slump is over, as the very impressive specs sheet shows.
There are a few specs that really set the Jet apart.
Firstly it is one of the first mobile phones with an OLED (Organic Light Emitting Diode) Screen. This is the next step in screen technology, from LED (Light Emitting Diode). The benefits of OLEDis that each pixel (little coloured dot) is its own light source, and individual pixels can turn themselves off to make a “true black”, this results in contrast and colours that make every other mobile phones screen look broken. OLED is also much easier to see in sunlight, and consumes significantly less power than LED. This makes the battery life on the Jet last for almost 3 days under heavy use. This was very impressive, as almost all other touch screen Smartphones we have used, could only pull off a day before requiring some new electricity.
The processor stands out as it is fantastically fast, there is almost no pause when opening an application, it just appears. This allows for very confident use of the phone. Having a really powerful processor makes multitasking simple, something Apple has yet to allow on the iPhone, possibly due to battery life issues. On the Jet pressing the middle button brings up the main menu, while leaving the application you were running open. Hold it down, and you can switch between open applications.
Multitasking is very useful when actually using the phone for work or what have you. You can switch between the calendar and an SMS for instance, or contacts and an email. It’s something you don’t miss until it’s gone, then you realise just how much you use it.
One major issue for us was the sync software. Firstly, if you have a Mac, just move along. It will not sync, no matter what you do. Secondly, if you have a PC your life is not really any easier. The sync software provided is the most complex and annoyingly complicated piece of software we have used for a while. While it will sync with Outlook, it’s not just a matter of checking the “sync with Outlook” box. What the PC Suite wants you to do is use it as your main calendar and contact management software, for anyone who does any real work, has enough disposable income to afford the Jet, and actually uses it as a Smartphone, this is extremely frustrating.
The Jet has a first-rate 5-megapixelcamera, more than good enough for any happy snapper. To put 5-megapixels into perspective, you would have to shrink the image to send it via email, as the file size is just too big. The camera almost has the potential to replace your point-and-shoot. It’s fast, good in low light and has a ton of adjustable features.
In conclusion the Samsung Jet is a very good mobile phone. It is not quite at the level of the iPhone 3G, and the Blackberry Storm, but it is a bit cheaper, retailing for around R6,500. (iPhone 3G 8gig: around R7,500; Blackberry Strom: around R8,000) The OS does have some issues, but as a complete device I would not have any issue using it every day. The Jet has the fastest processor availible in any mobile phone at the moment and a slick user interface that is fun to use. If you are looking for a smart phone and dont have a Mac add the Samsung Jet to your list.