First Looks: Samsung G400

Folding Origami

Folding Origami

The Samsung G400: a phone with a clamshell form factor and a dual screen design. If this sounds oddly similar to the Sony Ericsson W980 Walkman phone, your guess is right. But the G400 comes with some discernible differences from the W980, which we'll be exploring in the next few minutes.

Clamming Up

Sharing the same dimensions as its internal screen at 2.2-inches, the G400's external TFT screen can support 262K colors, and here comes the sweet part: it's a touch screen. Though classified under its Style range of mobile phones, the G400 has a heavier focus on its music and imaging capabilities, and as such, the external touch screen provides easy access to these two features, such as its Music Player, FM Radio, Camera and Album.

Touch sensitivity was decent and with the aid of its haptic feedback, we didn't have much trouble with the navigation of the external touch screen. In case you're wondering if the device can be activated with an accidental touch, there's a dedicated Hold button on its right profile. Moreover, this button is flush with the device and thus is unlikely to be unlocked by accident.

Further up from the Hold button, there's the proprietary port used for USB data and audio connectivity. Frankly, we would have wished for a 3.5mm audio connection, but given for a fact that the G400's dimensions come at a thin 15.2mm, we figured that squeezing in a 3.5mm audio jack along the device would have marred its sleek design. On its opposing side (to the left) are the microSD slot and the volume button. With the device in its closed position, the G400 definitely felt thin and light in one's hands.

Flipping Out

Clamshell phones are meant to be flipped, period. Whilst you might want to be a bit of an exhibitionist and try to flip the device open with just one hand using your thumb and one other finger as the fulcrum, it is usually more prudent to go with both hands. Once we opened the G400, we faced a flat keypad that gave us some problems with text messaging.

Unfortunately, we faced a bigger challenge: the flat five-way navigation pad's unbalanced design such that the Up and Down buttons are given less space than the Left and Right buttons, thus giving rise to accidental hits on the OK button when you're navigating up and down.

What really struck us as an oddity is the positioning of the 5-megapixel camera. Located along the hinge of the device, the camera essentially follows the hinge's movement, and thus, it actually moves with the hinge and will be facing you instead (similar to its secondary camera for video calls), whilst when the phone is closed, the lens would be positioned at the rear of the device. This would probably be well-liked by fans of self-portraits, but for the rest, you'll have to flip the phone into its closed position to utilize the camera for normal shots.

Besides its 5-megapixel resolution, the G400 includes some of the niftier camera features found on its other high-end camera phone siblings, such as Smile Detection, Anti-Shake and Wide Dynamic Range, plus ISO settings of up to 800. With such features, we were expecting images to turn out pretty decent. Truth is, images were of an acceptable range, but you won't be using it for dedicated photography anytime soon due to its high noise level.

The audio fidelity, however is another story. While we bemoan the use of a proprietary connection for its audio jack, we stuck with the bundled inner earpiece, and were pleasantly surprised with its quality. Running the device through various tracks of heavy beats and light tunes on its default equalizer settings, we were returned with sufficient levels on the lows and mids, and for that extra kick, the integrated equalizer settings manage to enhance the audio experience, with its Surround and Dynamic settings.

More importantly, the G400 was able to hit the one and a half day mark, with up to almost 4 hours of music playback and ample amount of calls and messages being sent and received.

Touching Down

As we close the final chapter of the Samsung G400 review, one might ask: have devices evolved to a stage where even the consumer can't catch up to it? That might not be too far away, as we are seeing manufacturers churn out devices at an alarming rate recently. But due consideration will still be given for those who wish for familiar devices, and the G400 did keep to that aspect, with a few added features such as a secondary touch screen and a 5-megapixel camera to top up its basic features. For a phone with its features and above average audio playback support, be prepared to pay a cool S$728 (without contract).