Elegance and functionality rarely stand shoulder to shoulder; it's virtually always either or in most situations. In fact, they are almost exclusive of one another, especially when applied to the engineering of mobile phones. Samsung however, might have hit the sweet spot between these two glaring polarities with the SGH-E900 slider phone.
A quick glance at the E900 will have most people agree that the latest Samsung slider is a beautiful montage of gloss and matte. The functionality aspect is evident by a control pad that is framed by a series of touch-sensitive buttons. The latter features a clever user visual cue that flashes to acknowledge each touch and also exemplifies the attention to detail that Samsung so religiously subscribes to. Embedded above the controls is a generous 30 x 40 mm screen of a maximum resolution of 240 by 320 pixels.
Something we really liked about the E900 was the location of the onboard microSD expansion slot. Instead of building it within the phone to save costs, Samsung has opted to spend a bit more manufacturing dollars to locate the slot on the outside where it would be more accessible to users. This is of course a step on the right track considering that many phones come with internal expansion slots that require users to go through the hassle of first removing the phone’s battery prior to swapping/extracting the card for backup purposes. With quick access to the microSD slot, users will only find it more inviting to use features like the MP3 player and document reader (PDF, Microsoft Word Files, Excel Files). Other features along the side profile of the phone include a power on/off button, a shortcut button for the camera/MP3 player as well as volume controls.
The E900 slides open to reveal a keypad with two silver spacers separating the three columns of keys to break an otherwise ergonomically challenged keypad.
Upon usage, the two spacers quickly proved its partitioning purpose of preventing users from unintentionally pressing the wrong buttons. Good layout aside, the flat keys are surprisingly responsive with sufficient travel for satisfactory tactility.
Found on the rear upper-panel of the E900 is a 2.0-megapixel camera that is more than capable of taking decent photos at 1600 x 1200 pixel resolution. There's even a flash thrown in for night portrait shots and a funky image editor for post-effects that includes adding of text, frames, clipart, emoticons as well as image cropping – it's almost as good as having your own Neo-print machine!
One thing about the E900 that might put off right-handed users is the touch sensitive 'Cancel' button. Much to our dismay, many a time all it took was a slight tap and running application was instantly terminated. Also, because of its glossy surface, the E900 is a magnet of fingerprints and greasy smudges.
Bucking the trend that phones from the looks department are mostly limited in functionality and with limited internal memory, the E900, with its external and easily accessible microSD expansion slot, is a surprising but pleasant package. Desirable features such as a 2-0-megapixel camera with flash, a document reader, built-in MP3 function, and an image editor all add considerable value to the E900, which should strongly appeal to the slider crowd who pledges strongly to style but at the same time wanting a dash of office and multimedia functionality.
With the SGH-E900, Samsung has demonstrated yet again that elegance and sophisticated functions can coexist and the result is an impressive slider that is beautiful to behold as it is to wield in daily applications – though there's no denying that it bears an uncanny resemblance to the LG Chocolate slider phone.