Earlier today, in the course of exchanging a couple of SMSes with brym, one of our official contributors on MobilityNigeria, I mentioned that I am looking to keep the Samsung S8003 Jet that the Mobility Nigeria team has been reviewing of recent. This obviously came as a surprise to him, because he responded: “You want to use the Jet without a physical keyboard?”
brym clearly knows me: I am all QWERTY – for so many years till now, it has been physical QWERTY or bust.
My first ever attempt at using an onscreen QWERTY keyboard failed in approximately fifteen (15) minutes of picking up the device. That was the Samsung i900 Omnia. I also gave the Nokia 5800 XpressMusic a try. While it was a far better experience than the Omnia, it still was not up to scratch.
With a history of smartphones like Nokia 9210, Nokia 9500, Nokia E61, Palm Treo 700P, Nokia E90 and Sony Ericsson X1, among others, what is it that is drawing me out of my comfort zone into the world of a non-smartphone and an onscreen QWERTY keyboard?
In one sentence:
The Samsung Jet is the only non-smartphone I have ever used without missing smartphone features, it has one of the most gorgeous, most sensitive displays on mobiles (unless you are told, you won’t know that the display is not capacitive), and is the only touchscreen device with an onscreen QWERTY keyboard that has worked for me till date.
That’s a mouthful, but I’ll break it down as much as possible.
1. The display is gorgeous. At 480×800 pixels, the stunning AMOLED display has the best resolution out there. Just to demonstrate that its not just me, everyone who has taken any amount of time to examine the phone has commented on the display even though they are not aware of its technical specifications.
I haven’t done any comparison with the displays of the iPhone or Nokia N97, but Eldar Mutazin claims that the Samsung Jet’s display “wins head-to-head comparisons with the Nokia N97 and Apple iPhone hands down”.
2. The display is responsive. It is as responsive as a capacitive screen, with the added benefit that the user can use anything to interact with it – bare finger, stylus, pencil, gloved finger or a hard object. Capacitive displays suffer from not being usable with anything but the bare finger (and God help you if your fingers are dry!).
3. The onscreen QWERTY keyboard is top-notch. It is the only virtual QWERTY keyboard that I have been able to type on with minimal issues. Inspite of my big fingers, I find that I am able to type fairly long text (emails and blog comments) on the keyboard. The well-implemented haptic-feedback also helps make the typing experience a good one.
Of course, I mis-type a bit every now and then, as I did too on every hardware keyboard I have ever used. But the error margin is so low that I consider the Jet’s virtual keyboard a pleasant surprise.
4. Email. There is a built-in mail client and an Exchange ActiveSync application. Between these two, email management is good and PUSH email (as well as contacts and calendar synchronisation) available
Samsung’s Dolphin browser is better than the built-in Android browser, better than Netfront, and almost as good as Opera Mobile (beats Opera Mobile in flash support) and the iPhone’s Safari.
Dolphin also lets you save images, send current URL as SMS or email, has a built-in RSS reader, supports file uploads, and secure browsing. I can call up a menu to open new windows by simply tapping a button.
6. Muli-tasking. This factor is strong in making this a smartphone replacement for me. Even java applications multi-task. However, Samsung has made it impossible to run both the web browser and camera at the same time. Search me.
7. Comprehensive set of features. The Jet has a very comprehensive set of features (most of which work so well that the need for 3rd party applications is minimised). The feature set on the Jet reminds me of what Ericsson phones used to be like -incredible value for money.
In addition to the extra functionality are little touches here and there that enhance utility and usability (Symbian and company can learn a thing or two from Samsung and Apple about user interface).
Here is a quick rundown of some features that may not have been mentioned in the previous reviews on this site:
The user interface is consistent and has beautiful transition effects (which you can turn off if you wish). All menus are finger-friendly, though you can pretty much use a stylus as well, or anything you wish.
There’s kinetic scrolling in the phonebook, web browser, email, SMS, menus, et al. Volume keys functionality is adapted to whatever menu or application you are in, such that the keys are used to scroll in menus, browser, contacts; and they are also used to adjust sound levels in music player and other menus.
Music player syncs automatically with Windows Media Player once the phone is connected to your PC, and album art and file info are copied accurately as well. Files can be synced to the internal or removable memories.
The Jet has flash drive functionality too – and both the in-built 2GB disk and memory card are recognized by the PC and can be used for file storage. Bluetooth file transfer lets me save incoming files to either the internal or removable memory.
It also sports USB charging, 3.5mm audio jack, TV-out functionality, A2DP Bluetooth, and a built-in call-blocking facility that lets me put numbers on a reject call list.
When the display is locked, using the Gesture Unlock feature I am able to launch applications, as well as call preset numbers from standby mode by scribbling an assigned alphabet on the screen with my finger.
Call quality is good, and the Samsung Jet holds on to weak signals well, especially areas of weak 3G signal. Surprisingly, I haven’t had to worry about battery life either, considering the 800 Mhz processor, the vibrant 3.1-inch display, and always-active 3G connection.
There’s also a fake call function for those times when that pesky neighbour or colleague won’t take a hint and go away. If I want, I can even record my mother’s voice to be played back when the fake call comes in, so my fake conversation sounds more convincing.
The Jet’s speakerphone is automatically turned on when moved away from the head and placed on a flat platform during a call. If a call comes in at a bad moment, I simply turn the phone down on its face to mute the ringer.
The loudspeaker is better than what you find on many media-centric devices, including the Nokia 5800 XpressMusic and the iPhone 3GS, and as good as what obtains on the Nokia N95.
The menu is customisable: items can be moved around and arranged for the user’s convenience: simply tap the orange icon in top-right corner of the menu and re-arrange, then tap it again and you are done.
Need GPS? The Jet adds A-GPS, which works with the pre-installed Google Maps, though I do consider Google Maps limited here in Nigeria. Garmap and Ovi Maps are more detailed far by. The built-in GPS also works with the pre-installed Route66 navigation application (which is quite useless in the Nigerian environment).
This article isn’t a comprehensive review, so I haven’t detailed every feature available on the phone here, but if the Samsung Jet is any indication of the direction that Samsung’s Bada mobile OS is going, Bada devices are going to be a hit.
Also, note that the Jet has its limitations, as has been detailed in previous reviews by our team, but the value it delivers so outweighs those negatives for me that there is no struggle here in declaring it an outstanding device.
Simply put, the Jet is feature-packed and a joy to use. At the end of the day, that’s what sealed the deal for me. I am certainly going to keep the Samsung S8003 Jet. Sale’s closed.