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I had quite an unfortunate incident with my iPhone 4 quite recently - I dropped it getting out of my car while trying to multitask (unsuccessfully as I am a man - come on!) and the screen got so badly damaged that I needed to use my iPhone insurance. I returned my iPhone 4 to be assessed and received a courtesy phone from my network provider - the Samsung 360 in silver (pictured in the description as black).
Now I only had this phone for a couple of weeks whilst my iPhone 4 was getting fixed/replaced, but I have used the phone enough to be able to write a thorough review of it.
You can read my 5 star review of the iPhone 4 in my archive of reviews so obviously I had high expectations with Smartphones after falling in love(!!!) with my iPhone. Plus I had also had a good experience with the Nokia E72 so I know exactly what I want with a smartphone!!
First off, I really liked the look of the phone. It was slick with a really big touchscreen a la iPhone/UTC. The shape was also very easy on the eyes but I would personally prefer the black version (I received it in silver but had no choice on colour) It has three buttons on the bottom of the phone underneath the touchscreen and these are the main buttons for going to the main menu (on the right) and quick access to the calls record (on the left). I have to say I was impressed before I even switched on the phone!
It is important to note that my next point IS a wee bit irrelevant as I didn't transfer any phone numbers from my iPhone onto my courtesy phone as the SIM cards are different (so I just added the important ones manually) but I really didn't like the main screen layout. It is fairly easy to navigate around MOST sections of the phone yes, but I thought it was quite plain and old fashioned - the iPhone homescreen is slicker. Another problem I had was that I found it extremely difficult to get to the missed calls section with any ease. I had to pull out the instruction manual (which I have never had to do with any phone before!) to find out how to do it. I didn't have many other specific problems per se but I did think that it was a bit of a challenge at times - negative marks in my opinion for not being user friendly. Overall though, once you knew how to do everything then it was ok.
On the plus side, most of the applications were easy to use (text messages very similar to iPhone) The handset has all the usual suspects (camera, samsung apps, games, music, internet browser, e-mail etc.) and I even played around with some of the apps on it. The camera was quite good (at 5 MP the same as the iPhone 4) and you can download MP3 music and apps from Vodafone directly. It also has quite a good internet browser and with 3G capability, it has quite good speed.
Overall, it is not a bad handset. I personally found it quite frustrating but being objective about it, that was probably due to the fact that I was so used to my iPhone and really missed it (!!) It has most, if not all, of the same features of the most popular smartphones. However, I find the iTunes/iPhone software very, very easy to use and this phone will always come second to it but that does mean it is a bad phone by any stretch of the imagination.
This phone would come in considerably cheaper than an iPhone and it does most of all the basic stuff well but i don't think it as user friendly as the iPhone. I think this phone would be a good option for someone wanting a basic smartphone without wanting to shell out too much money because some of newer, more high-profile smartphones can cost quite a lot of money!
When it came to the end of my last contract, I decided I would cancel the contract and start again. By doing this, if going through a company such as Dial a Phone I get cashback. So I wrote to Vodafone asking to cancel my current contract and they called me asking why I wanted to do this. I explained and the man told me he could drop my contract by £10 a month and give me a brand new phone. He asked which phone I would like and to be honest, I had no idea as I hadn't really looked yet. I said I had seen the H1 and it looked quite good. He told me that apparently it is better than the I-Phone and before I knew it I was signed up on a 24 month contract with Vodafone for £25 a month with 600 minutes, unlimited texts and unlimited internet usage.
The phone I have is black but you can also get it in silver. It is a touch screen phone but has a few buttons to the bottom and the side, these buttons are used to access the menu, phonebook, camera and to search. The phone is about 10cm tall and 4 cm wide. It is quite thin and is less than a cm wide. The front of the phone is primarily taken up by the screen and the back has a large Vodafone logo. The back is made from plastic and scratches relatively easily - as does the screen! I have had the phone about 7 months now and it is looking quite tired already although I always try to take care of my phones and keep them looking nice.
*Setting up the phone and Vodafone 360*
The phone arrived in a small, cardboard box. To set up, you obviously need to insert the battery and sim card. I went to do this but was very confused how you got the back of the phone off! Me and my family were trying for a good 20 minutes as we didn't want to break the phone so therefore didn't want to be too rough! Turns out if you pull out the top of the back it pops off but to this day I still find it quite difficult at times!
Turning it on was simple and the phone loaded quickly. When I turned it on for the first time it prompted me to come up with a username and password for Vodafone 360. I hadn't used 360 before but from what I could understand it is the online aspect of Vodafone where you can buy games, music and apps and also if you have friends on 360 you can communicate with them.
It is worth noting that if you would rather not use 360, you will still need to sign up to be able to access the phone (its free) but you can set it to be constantly offline which is what I did for the first 6 months or so.
The phones menu consists of a number of apps. As with the I-Phone you can download new apps which will appear on the menu. You can chop and change the order of the menu meaning therefore that you can put everything that you use together, making it easy to find.
The phone came with a great deal of apps already on it including email, messaging, shop, music, calendar, alarm, weather, you tube and 2 games. If you go onto the shop you have the option to download more apps and a lot of these are free. Free apps I have downloaded include a pub quiz, music quiz, brain training games and a film blog.
I quite like the messaging facility on this phone. I send an awful lot of messages so it is an important feature of the phone. If you click on the message icon, a list will come up of people you have either text or who have text you, you can change this to show each message individually but I prefer to keep it as it is as then it is easy to access what I want to. You then simply click on the person and the messages sent and received come up. It is displayed like a conversation which I love because it makes it easier to read the whole thing rather than having to go back and forth.
Typing a message is easy, though I did struggle at first because I hadn't had much use of a touch screen phone before. It comes with a full qwerty keyboard and the letters are of a good size meaning mistakes are now minimal. There are also a great deal of symbols to use. One thing I have noticed is that there are no smileys on this phone - instead it comes up just with the symbols.
Messaging is where my key issue with the phone comes in. When you click on a new message or go onto the messaging icon, the messages take forever to load. Even if I have just deleted all of my messages, it takes a good 15 seconds to load which is very annoying to me and it is my main problem with the phone.
*Making a phone call*
There are a number of ways to begin a phone call. For example you can go on the recently dialled list or go into messages and select the person or of course, you can access the person via the contacts.
The sound when on the phone is crisp and clear and I have never had a problem hearing anyone or them hearing me. One niggle I do have is when it comes to hanging up. Because it is a touch screen you have to wait for the screen to come back after taking it away from the ear, putting a few more seconds on the phone call. I think it would be better if there was an actual button you could press to hang up.
The camera is 5 megapixels and produces very good quality photos. The zoom is good and pictures are clear and colours are good. There are not too many editing features on the phone which means if you are a keen editor you would probably be better uploading them to a computer.
The flash on the camera makes taking photos in darker conditions really easy. The flash lights everything up really well and leaves the photo looking good. You can also turn the flash off the save battery or to make the picture look more natural.
One of the main things I enjoy about this phone is the ease of internet use. The internet comes up just as it does on a computer and you use it the same (except it is smaller!) I love the ease of using the internet on the move and use it on a daily basis to check the news, my email, lottery numbers etc.
Facebook is also worth a mention - you can download a free facebook app on this phone which allows you to control your facebook on the move. I use this 10+ times a day and think it is invaluable! It is not as good as the real thing and sometimes things go wrong (for example you cannot see who 'likes' you status' but nevertheless I think this is a great feature to the phone).
I don't have a great deal of music on the phone as I cannot figure out how to connect it to my computer! However, what I have bought via the 360 shop on the phone goes directly into my MP3 player (the music app on the phone) and I can listen to it there and also select it as ringtones etc. The sound is crisp and clear and it is easy to pause the music, turn the volume up etc.
*Ease of use and Battery Life*
To begin with, I found this phone really difficult to use because of the touch screen. However, I soon got the hang of it and now navigate my way around it with ease. The phone usually deals with my demands well however, a month or so ago it did go through a phase of freezing every now and again which was very annoying.
I wouldn't recommend this phone to people with big fingers as I think it would be too difficult to press buttons (especially in text mode), however if you do not send a lot of texts I doubt this would be a problem. Another thing you could do would be to get a stylus, though I have never tried using one of these with the phone.
One thing that isn't very good is the battery life. I do use my phone a lot and this is probably why it doesn't last too long but I would say at a push this phone lasts 48 hours without dying. However, I imagine if you didn't send 100+ text messages a day and check facebook and emails numerous times it would last a lot longer!
As far as I am aware this phone is only available on Vodafone because it was designed for Vodafone 360. It is available for free on their 24 month contracts, please check the website for their current price plans as they vary and I got mine tailored to my needs as I was already a customer. I don't think the phone can be bought on pay as you go.
I like this phone and would recommend it. It does everything I want it to do and it is perfect for my needs. I use my phone an awful lot and this is perfect for that as it has a large message memory and also has apps which support my internet needs (eg. Facebook and email).
Overall, I think the phone is very good and I only have a few slight niggles with it such as the messages taking ages to load and there not being a physical button to hang up the call. I am happy with the phone and when my contract is up I will look into having another Samsung.
But is it as good as the I-Phone? No! My mum has an I-Phone and I do not think it is quite as good. Although it does the same sort of things I think the I-Phone is a tiny bit better.
Thank you for reading :)