Product Type: Samsung mobile phones
Newest Review: ... not the amazing phone that I thought that I was going to get! First of all it is quite a big and bulky phone which is not exactly what I wa... more
Styling and Profiling with Sammy Jr!
Samsung GT B3410
Member Name: MizzMolko
Samsung GT B3410
Advantages: A great looking phone with many impressive features in the middle price range
Disadvantages: A few niggles like no zoom feature on the camera
Don't you just love it when technology goes wrong? February was full of technological disasters for me but the first of such problems was on a dull Sunday morning when my beloved Samsung C300 started playing up; the battery power was far from consistent and I feared my twenty-pound wonder was about to die on me. Being away from home and using my phone every day to contact friends and family meant that I definitely couldn't be without a mobile phone for any length of time. So, my phone's demise provided me with a good reason to spend the day shopping instead of studying! Instead of going for the either or option of the Samsung Genio, I decided to take a gamble on the Samsung B3410, a phone which offers buyers the best of both a touch screen and QWERTY keypad. I say my purchase was a gamble as I'd only seen the phone once before deciding to buy but Sammy Jr is definitely one of the best consumer decisions I ever made.
When I first opened my new phone's box, I wasn't very surprised at the contents inside as you get the very basics for any phone: you get the device itself, the battery, an instructions manual, a reasonably sized travel charger and earphones which you obviously use to listen to the FM radio and any MP3 tracks you happen to download. The phone's charger itself feels durable and is made of black, chunky plastic, as you'd expect, and the earphones themselves offer a good level of sound quality; they are made out of plastic too which doesn't make them the comfiest of earphones and they aren't that great at staying in the ear but they at least work well enough. The little button on the earphones, when pressed, takes you to the phone's recent call's menu, a feature which I think is easily one of the most simple and user-friendly of all of the phone's features.
DESIGN, EASE OF USE AND THE TOUCH SCREEN: DOES IT ALL COME TOGETHER FOR THIS SAMSUNG MOBILE?
As you may have gathered from my previous technology reviews, I am a sucker for anything that is 'cute'. Sammy Jr I would classify as being very cute; although it's slightly bigger than the LG360 which I was also thinking of purchasing, Sammy still fits comfortably into the palm of my hand and is quite chunky, which allows for a bigger, clearer screen and a larger, easier to type QWERTY keypad. When I bought the B3410, it was only available in a black and metal grey combination but now you can purchase it in a white and pink design which - I have to say - makes the phone look quite tacky and cheap. Both colour combinations are currently available from the Carphone Warehouse and on all major networks.
The black version of the phone comes with silver keys and orange symbols on the keypad and I have to say that this Samsung phone is a very sleek, shiny design and stands alongside pricier models such as the iPhone in terms of appearance. In fact, I'd go as far to say that Samsung have tried to emulate the iPhone appearance-wise with this mobile; my friend who works in Apple owns an iPhone and I'd say that both of our phones are roughly the same size and shape but the main advantage with this Samsung is the fact that it has the QWERTY keyboard as opposed to just a touch screen...and that it's got nothing to do with Apple! I have to say that I wasn't expecting to like the QWERTY keypad as much as I do on the B3410; the rubber keys are a good size, although not massive, and I've always found them to respond very ably. In comparison to normal phone keypads, where you have to press the buttons multiple times in order to find the number, letter or symbol you desire, the QWERTY keypad on this phone allows you to access roughly two characters per key. The one thing that confused me at first was how to access the alternative character on each key: you have to press the orange 'ALT' key at the bottom of the keypad and then the corresponding key again so that the other number or symbol - also listed in orange - will appear. Of course, if I'd bothered to read the instructions manual, this would have been a piece of cake...
My Mum's comment when she met Sammy Jr for the first time was that you wouldn't need very fat fingers in order to use the QWERTY keypad; I have very small hands and fingers so I've never found using the keyboard a problem but if you do happen to purchase this phone and find your fingers aren't nimble enough, if you close the slider that reveals the QWERTY keyboard, you will be able to touch the screen in order to access letters, number and symbols for texting. The touch screen is easy enough to use for texting but I have to say I prefer the QWERTY keyboard; the screen is a lot wider so you can see very clearly exactly what you're typing.
Texting on the touch screen is very similar to how you'd text on a normal candy bar, flip or slider based phones where you have to press the buttons multiple times to get the character you want. The thing I've found about touch screen texting in comparison to QWERTY texting is that the 'buttons' don't seem to be as responsive as those on the QWERTY keypad. Whether it's me being a bit cautious or something but I've often found myself having to press down really hard on the screen to get the letter or number I want. Also, another slight downfall of the touch screen keypad on this phone is that in comparison to the QWERTY keyboard, the symbols such as exclamation marks and pound signs don't seem to be as easy to find. Maybe it's just because I use the QWERTY keypad for the most part when texting someone and I'm not as familiar with the touch screen keyboard but it does seem to be one of the few things that lets the phone down for me personally and the fact that when you use the screen to text, you only get a tiny box to see exactly what you're typing. The QWERTY, therefore, seems to be a lot easier for texting as not only is the keypad laid out very well but you get the entire length of the screen to see what you're writing.
Going back to something that is also quite fundamental about mobile phones, I want to take a moment to discuss the locking feature on the Samsung B3410. The past couple of mobiles I owned didn't need to be locked, as they were either flip phones or regular sliders. However, with this one having a touch screen, I've found it's vital to remember to lock it. If you turn the phone so you can see its left hand side there is a collection of three buttons. The one in the middle has a lock on it and predictably you use that one to both lock and unlock your mobile. However, if you want to be a bit of a flash git, you can unlock the phone using the touch screen by pressing another button on the front of the phone and then by holding down the large, golden lock that comes up on the screen for a couple of beats. If you have the sound turned on, you'll hear it make a beep noise when you lock it and a soft ding when you unlock it. I have to say that whilst the keypad locking is good, it's not great; because I'm a bit of a girl and want to keep the touch screen looking nice for as long as possible without getting scratched, I purchased a 'sock' to keep my phone in. However, I've sometimes found that even when I'm just holding the mobile, I've somehow managed to catch one of the buttons on the front of the screen and then the touch screen lock to unlock the phone! It might not seem like that big of a deal but it's certainly something to be aware of if you do happen to purchase this phone...I once found myself calling my Mum when I didn't mean to!
On the subject of doing things when I didn't mean to, I have to go back to texting on the B3410. Now, I am slightly clumsy by nature but I have been known to send people blank texts at times with this phone. Why, I hear you cry? Well, it's quite simple really: sometimes, your finger only needs to hover over the touch screen 'send' button and you'll have your incomplete message sent to someone yet other times, I have to press the 'send' button for a long time before it'll do as I ask. Strange that and it must be a conspiracy on the part of all major networks to get Pay as you Go customers to spend more money...
One of the best things about the Samsung B3410 is without a doubt the voice recorder. My old phone, predictably, lacked a decent voice recorder and everything I attempted to record sounded incredibly quiet and muffled. The voice recorder, which can be accessed easily via a button directly underneath the keypad locker on this mobile, is stunning; I have used it so far to record my voice when I've been both prating about and preparing presentations and the sound quality has always been crystal clear, if the sound in question is recorded in a quiet environment. Of course, at gigs and whatnot, the feedback of various background noises interferes with the overall quality of a recording. However, I'm delighted to say that in the name of having an ironic choice of ringtone, I decided to record 'Hello Goodbye' from the internet (the official download choice sounded absolute rubbish and nothing like the original) and the quality is superb; it sounds exactly like the song itself and it makes people smile whenever they hear it!
As for the games on the B3410 I have to say they are slightly lacking. On here you get a choice of two incomplete games, one called the Brain Challenge Vol. 2, and the other PyramidBloxx. Call me a bit of a cheapskate here but I don't like the fact that I have to pay to get the rest of these games: you get to a certain point in both of them - perhaps 30 seconds - where a convenient message will pop up from Samsung asking you to connect to the internet and buy the unlocking code. As both games depend severely on the use of the touch screen, which can be a bit flippant when it wants to be, I'm not necessarily sure I want to purchase either game at the moment, even though - for the first half a minute at least - both games are quite neat and addictive.
As I am not on a contract with this mobile phone (i.e. I don't pay a company a certain amount of money each month to get a certain number of texts or airtime minutes) I rarely use the internet (powered by Google) or the Palringo Instant Messaging service that - like the games - is provided by Java. However, whenever I have used either, I have found the phone to be quick and responsive, managing to connect to the internet in a reasonable amount of time, even when I'm out and about and on the move. You can also connect to other phones using the Bluetooth feature (including printers and computers) and whilst I've not used this feature an awful lot, it seems to be pretty good at connecting to other phones and you also have to option of 'hiding' your phone from others so you don't receive any unwanted photographs or sound bites. Why you would switch the Bluetooth on (and run your battery power down) if you didn't want your phone to receive any media from other phones is beyond me...
One of the fun features that I really like on this phone is the radio; I don't use it all that often (well I did have to purchase a new MP3 player too in February...) but on the odd occasion when I have, it's always been fairly quick to connect automatically to the local radio station. The one thing I will say at this point is that if you're listening to the radio, it's perhaps not going to be that convenient to use the other features on your phone: the signal starts to waver and your ears may be deafened by delightful crackling sounds. To switch the sound up and down - either on the radio or MP3 player - you use the long button on the left hand side of the phone - the up button turns the sound up and the bottom button of the two turns the sound down, predictably. If you don't happen to like your local radio station that your phone connects to automatically, you can tune the radio under the 'Applications' folder on the menu screen but I will warn you it can be a bit hit and miss so it's also a case for slender fingers on the touch screen...
The phone's home screen allows you to access something called 'widgets'. Now, being incapable of reading an instruction manual, it took me a good couple of hours to realise that the widgets are menu features you can put on the front screen of your phone and access quickly without searching through several folders. To set this up, you merely go on the main menu and select the 'widget' button at the bottom of the screen and select whatever you'd like on the main page, such as the MP3 player and radio. I have to say that I haven't got rid of the widget feature yet on the phone but I've been tempted to a couple of times; the tab that opens the widget list can be caught accidentally when you're trying to read that 100th text of the day from your buddy, thus stopping you from replying by a whole 30 seconds. Of course, there are worse problems in this world but the widget toolbar is something I doubt I'd miss if Samsung hadn't included it on this phone.
Lastly, I just want to tell you about the camera and camcorder feature on this mobile. Now, many of you may scoff and say that at 2mp, it's barely worth the effort but I have to say that this camera is more reliable and easy to use than my actual camera! I've used it at gigs before and, like the sound recorder, for general messing about, I have to say I'm rather impressed with the image quality and the choice of photography you can use; you can capture a picture in regular colours, black and white images to a sepia, antique effect and - my personal favourite - the sketch pad! Such picture qualities can also be used on the camcorder where you can switch off the audio sounds if you want to but the biggest disadvantage with the camera on this phone is the fact that there is no zoom button. Now, you'd think that if you can morph your friend's face onto a snowman's body, you'd be able to zoom in on the sexy Ville Valo from HIM when he's singing but apparently not. Sadly, whilst the camera on this phone is good, it just isn't great. It would have been nice if Samsung had made the 'take picture' button slightly bigger too; on the right hand side of the phone, you'll see the black button with a etched in camera on (directly below the earphone/charger socket) but if you happen to have the keypad out whilst trying to take a picture, you may find it mightily difficult to take a snap in a hurry due to just how teeny that button is. You can purchase a memory card separately for this phone if you do choose to use the camera a lot in order to store photos.
OK, MOVING ON FROM THE PHONE'S COOL FEATURES: WHAT IS IT LIKE TO MAKE A CALL FROM?
I have to say that for all of its impressive and nifty features, the Samsung B3410 is actually relatively good at making phone calls. Like many phones, it has a button with a 'pick up receiver' type symbol on it and a 'put the phone down' button. Whilst the latter button turns the phone on and off, the receiver button takes you into the 'recent call' menu and you'll be able to find the contacts you've recently, uh, contacted there. From there - and via the little arrow buttons at the top of that menu - you'll be able to go on to missed calls, dialed calls and received calls which you can either select via the touch screen or the arrow buttons on the QWERTY keypad.
In terms of making a call, the phone is relatively simple as long as you remember that the phone goes through two stages before ringing, both dialing and connecting. Now, I didn't know this the first time I used this phone and it sort of make me question if I'd ever make a phone call again! Most of the time, the phone goes on to the connecting stage very quickly but if it doesn't, I always stop the dialing stage and start the call again although this has thankfully only happened to me twice in the past before. The sound quality when you do manage to reach your caller is very good and I've never had a problem with maintaining the signal when on the phone so, overall, the main point of the mobile is well reserved on the B3410. By pressing the key button, either on screen or on the side of the phone, you can also access the speakerphone option (which doesn't offer quite the same, crisp sound quality as the ordinary speaker) as well as conference calls, which I am yet to try...I get confused when just one person is on the phone, let alone two or more!
If you are in a bit of a predicament sometimes, like when you're hearing someone lament mindlessly when you're in the middle of writing an essay, you can access the 'fake calls' option on the Samsung B3410. By simply holding down the lower sound button, you can access the fake phone call so it makes it seem like you need to speak to somebody o so urgently! I wouldn't use this feature too often mind but it's handy to have on those days when you really can't be bothered and is certainly a quirky feature of the phone. You can even voice record a 'response' from the other end of the phone by heading onto the 'Setting's menu and 'Application settings' which makes your phone call seem even more authentic but if you're going to record your own convo, make sure it's longer than five words or else you'll get the message repeated to you over and over again until you hang up!
YEAH BUT WHAT ABOUT THE BATTERY LIFE? HOW OFTEN DO YOU CHARGE YOUR PHONE UP?
When I first purchased the B3410, I have to say I messed about with it endlessly all day on the Monday (again, a great escape from actually doing work) so the battery power went down very quickly. When I first unpacked the phone, the part of the instructions manual I actually bothered to read instructed me to charge the phone up to full before using it and it took roughly an hour for the battery to go from three bars to the full five bar power.
Since then, I've found the phone to be fairly economical: after spending over an hour talking to someone on the phone (thankfully it was their credit going down the drain, not mine!) and sending several text messages, the phone was still on the full battery power. The battery doesn't lose its power ever so quickly which is a good thing but since its first charge, I've often found it to take over an hour to fully charge, even if it only lost one of the battery bars. Whether this is the case with all of the B3410s, I don't know, but I wouldn't brand the slight issue with the battery as a reason not to buy this phone - overall, the battery power does last a long time...it just takes it a little longer to charge, that's all.
OVERALL: SHOULD YOU BUY THE SAMSUNG B3410?
If you're looking for a phone in the middle price bracket which has a host of fun features, is good looking with a respectable battery life than I'd definitely recommend the Samsung B3410. The issues I have with this phone I've found to be only slight niggles that a guy or girl could easily live with and I have to say that I love Sammy Jr as much today as I did when I first purchased it!
Price: £78.95 (currently from the Carphone Warehouse)
Networks: O2, Orange, T Mobile, Talk Mobile, Virgin and Vodafone
Colours: Black/grey or White/pink
Size: 102.3 x 52.4 x 15.9 mm
Standby time: 670 minutes
Durability: difficult to say but Sammy Jr has been dropped several times and is still working fine!
(Please note: this review was previously displayed on Ciao under the same username. All my own work!)
Summary: As if you can't guess, I really like this phone!
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