After owning an Alcatel, a couple of Nokias, a Motorola, then a Sony Ericsson cellphone, I finally got the chance to experience the Korean mobile experience through my new Samsung Star Wifi S5233W. I recently got this for free thru my Smart Gold Postpaid Plan Php1200 together with a Samsung E1080 (I have no idea why they bundled it with this cheap phone aside from making it meet the plan’s total cost).
This is my first touch screen phone but I have to admit that for an entry-level model, the Samsung Star Wifi comes really loaded with features. Its 3-inch WQVGA display is bright and crisp as it displays up to 262K Colors at 240×400 resolution. There is also the impression of a wider home screen as you can flip through 3 screens with a touch. This is also available for the communications menu (that contains most of the applications) but not for the main menu (bummer). This full-touch User Interface is courtesy of haptic feedback and a resistive touchscreen. All the technical jargon aside, it makes for a sensitive interface that is quite easy to use.
There is also a retractable stylus that pulls out from a notch on the upper right of the unit which is primarily for handwriting recognition. However, it doesn’t seem very convenient to me as its handwriting recognition seems clunky at times. Aside from that, the touch interface works quite better without using the stylus – although it can be configured to be more sensitive (which makes the interface quite shaky).
An accelerometer also makes the phone responsive to position of the phone so you can also change the view orientation. Nevertheless, this feature is quite limited for certain functions including messaging, video playback, and internet browsing (more on this in a bit) — giving you access to a full QWERTY touch interface for messaging and internet browsing.
Speaking of features, it comes packed with standard applications including a calendar, calculator, stopwatch, timer, voice recorder, FM radio, and a music player. The interface allows you to access these applications thru widgets in the home screen that can be dragged and dropped on a tray that auto-hides from the left side. You can also download more widgets online (although I don’t see the point since it already has a lot of widgets that act as shortcuts like Facebook and Youtube). There is also a PDF reader so you can even read documents with a bit of effort by maximizing the view thru an “iPhone-like” zoom touch interface. The internal memory is only 87MB but an additional 16GB can be added through an optional microSD card (locally though, only 8GB is available for purchase).
But what really makes the Samsung Star Wifi shine is its connectivity options. Unlike the old Samsung Star S5230, the S5233W has Bluetooth, 3G, EDGE, and as its name obviously states, Wifi! No GPS, but the Wifi alone makes for a very powerful connection. I tried surfing sites like Facebook and Onemanga thru WiFi in the mall and I have to admit that it’s super impressive. The zoom feature of the browser works quite well especially for sites with small text.
Just some minus points though, the Samsung Star Wifi speakers may sound a bit harsh and clangy, and when you plug in the earphones – the volume can be quite low and unimpressive especially if you have used a Sony Ericsson before. Samsung Star WiFi is definitely not a music phone. I also didn’t enjoy the fact that it duplicated media files (images and music) which I stored in the microSD card whenever I set these as the wallpaper, ringtone, alarm or message alert. The camera is also lackluster at 3.2 megapixels without an optical zoom. So this isn’t a camera phone either.
Still, the Samsung Star Wifi is the best choice for those who are just starting out on a touch screen phone. With its multiple features at a price of about Php9,000+ only, it is quite a steal. No wonder Samsung is slowly becoming the phone of choice in our Nokia-dominated country.