If you haven’t been through our Samsung S8003 Jet First Impressions, you should do that right away.
We must confess that when we first laid our hands on the Samsung S8003 Jet, we had a flashback that brought back bad memories. It was a flashback of the not so wonderful experience we had with another touchscreen device from Samsung, the i900 Omnia, over a year ago. See Dayo’s review of the Omnia from way back in January 2009.
In terms of raw specifications, the Omnia beats the Jet in one or two areas, and in general it is still an up-to-date device, specs-wise. It was simply a case of bad implementation that ruined the user experience on the Omnia. The Omnia has 8GB (or 16GB) built-in memory, HSDPA 7.2 Mbps, as against the Jet’s 3.6 Mbps, and Pocket Office editor. Of course, the Jet also has the edge in other areas, including the 800Mhz processor, better video capabilities, better audio capabilities and a better display.
Where the TFT resistive touchscreen of the Omnia was unresponsive and had a mind of its own, the AMOLED resistive display of the Jet is so responsive that one would be forgiven for thinking that it was capacitive. Light taps and sweeps simply get the job done on the Jet. We remember having to tap the screen of the Omnia repeatedly at times to get anything done. It was simply frustrating.
The virtual keyboard on the Jet is hundreds of miles better than what runs on the Omnia. Typing text on the virtual keyboard of the Omnia was a nightmare. Eventually, we just gave up on it and settled for hen-pecking with the included stylus. The Jet delivers a surprisingly pleasant user experience in text input. Even big fingers are able to type with minimum hitches.
Both the Omnia and the Jet run the TouchWiz user interface. In his review of the Omnia, Dayo wrote:
I’ve had situations where someone asked to see my phone. Upon giving it to them, all they did was stare at the screen. They had no clue as to what to do next or what button to press. They just couldn’t find their way around.
Samsung has refined TouchWiz and made it more user-friendly. There is a horizontal row of four virtual buttons at the bottom of the homescreen. They are labelled as follows:
It is next to impossible for anyone not to know what to do next, even if he is a stranger to TouchWiz. Those buttons are finger friendly and bear familiar icons and labels. Tap Keypad if you want to dial a number; Phonebook if you want to look up a contact, Messages if you are looking for SMS, MMS (who still uses that?), or Email; and Menu if you are looking for anything else on the phone 😀 That’s usability!
The accelerometre sensor on the Omnia unit we had last year was flaky, to say the least. Every little movement caused the screen orientation to change. Samsung has done much better on the Jet. It is more stable now, and has also been implemented for “turn to mute” and Motion UI.
If a call comes in when you’d rather not take a call, simply turn the Jet down on its face to mute the call ringer. Neat.
As for Motion UI, this is the craziest thing we have seen on a mobile phone. You can launch media apps, start, fast-forward, pause and stop music playback just by tapping on, or snapping and flipping the phone right or left. Amazingly, the specified tasks get done. We suspect that we will get tired of the novelty after a while, but we sure cannot complain that it doesn’t work! Samsung threw in a brief Motion UI tutorial to help users get the hang of it too.
PS: There is a game called “Thumbing Dice” on the Jet that puts the excellent accelerometer sensor to use in another twist (no pun intended). If you ever lose your dice but need to relax with the family or with friends over a game of Monopoly or Ludo, this is what you need. The main screen displays a pair of dice. Shake the phone and the dice spin, just like real dice. Read and apply your score, then hand the phone to the next player.
If you have kids, try this with them. They’ll swear that they’ve got the coolest dad (or mom) in the world. Plus, at least unlike with physical dice, your dice never fall off the board!
There you are. We have picked the kludges that freaked us out on the Omnia and taken a critical look at the Jet and how it handles those same issues, and the new kid passes in flying colours.
Samsung has come a long way in touchscreen implementation since the Omnia, but then they have had one full year since the release of the Omnia to produce something as fantastic as the Jet. The S8003 Jet is testimony to that.