Review by Sunetra Chakravati,
12/12/2011 3:54:24 PM
A sturdy phone with a feature set that outdoes the other ruggedised phones on the market.
Despite sporting 3G data speeds, the internet experience was not as smooth as we might have hoped.
Last month we reviewed the Sonim XP3 Enduro, concluding that it was the “hardest” phone we had ever encountered. Having survived being thrown out of a window, dropped in a pint of water for half an hour and even driven over with a double decker bus (this did finally destroy it although you could still make and receive calls) it certainly warranted its toughphone kudos. Yet like the big kid at school, there’s always someone who wants to have a pop thus claiming their title as the one not to mess with. Say hello to the Samsung B2700, also known as the Samsung Bound.
This is not the first time Samsung has unveiled a ruggedised phone. Last year, we tried and tested the Samsung Solid. Unfortunately for Samsung, Sonim had also just released their own JCB-endorsed toughphone which outdid the Solid on nearly all fronts. It’s somewhat unfair to make another direct comparison between the Samsung Bound and the Sonim XP3 Enduro, for the very reason that while Sonim openly encourages you to try and destroy it, the Bound simply markets itself as being able to withstand more than the usual array of bumps and knocks. That said.........
The Samsung Bound is made primarily of a rubber plasticy casing that we assume helps cushion any untoward blows. The keypad is meticulously sealed which is a relief as the Bound does claim to be water resistant. The keys themselves are on the large side which is a good thing if you take into account that an outdoorsy type, who the phone is predominately aimed at, will often be wearing a pair of gloves at the time of use. While the central navigation pad felt good under the thumbs, the middle command key did feel a bit slippery and was also too raised so as you may accidentally hit it when using the navigation pad.
The screen is superior to the Sonim XP3 Enduro both in terms of size and resolution and makes for a far more vibrant display. However, the screen does not feel as protective as the Enduro. At the top of the phone, above the screen is a hook that allows you to clip the phone onto a belt or alike, again another useful factor for a ruggedised handset.
Samsung claims that the Bound is not only water resistant, but also shock and dust. It’s important to distinguish between water resistant and waterproof, which Sonim’s XP3 Enduro was for up to half an hour in a depth of one meter. Rather than give the Bound a real soaking we diligently poured some water over the handset, much akin to if you dropped it in a shallow puddle for a brief instant. We’re happy to say that it was unaffected and remained so. We also gave the phone a good hammering by repeatedly dropping it on the floor and giving it a stamping for good measure. It survived without so much as a scuff on it. Granted it’s not the same as dropping it out a first floor window or running over it with a double decker bus, but we can confirm that it’s more robust than most.
Where the Samsung Bound does supersede the Sonim XP3 Enduro is with its features, including a couple of quirky additions. For example, the built-in compass is a great feature that is sure to appeal to the target audience. Calibration is achieved by simply turning the phone over on itself, which once done so will display the direction your phone is pointing in along with what altitude you’re at.
The Pedometer counts the number of steps you make, calculating, approximately it should be added, the distance you’ve travelled and how many calories you will have burned. What’s clever about it is that it remains counting even if you’re not directly in the application. It works by recording the shock waves caused by each step you make, though unless you are, how do we put this politely, heavy footed, steps were only recorded when we took the phone jogging or climbing stairs. Like the Sonim’s model, there’s also a powerful flashlight built into the phone.
For a toughphone, the Bound is big on multimedia. The two-megapixel camera is competent at achieving some sound shots, though the lack of lens cover for a phone that is built to withstand the odd rough and tumble is a slight concern. Once you have taken your snap, you can actually see more of the shot than first appears in the screen by scrolling up and down. A neat little touch we think. The built-in video camera is capable of recording at 15 frames per second, which while not the DVD-quality you’ll find in hero handsets, is good enough to watch back your climbing and mountain biking exploits. Though there’s no accelerometer, you can manually switch the screen to horizontal so you can view your videos in landscape format.
With 3G data speeds, you won’t have to suffer the same lethargic internet experience as found with the Enduro. However, scrolling down pages was rather jumpy with your eyes taking a few seconds to adjust to the display.
While the Samsung Bound only houses 26MB on internal memory, there is a microSD card slot that is capable of housing a memory card of up to 8GB - though this will have to be purchased separately - meaning there’s plenty of room to store your music. Tracks can be divided into a variety of categories including artists, genres, albums, composers, and podcasts. You can even create your own playlists. Although there’s no 3.5mm headset port, there is stereo Bluetooth (A2DP). We paired up our Bluetooth headphones at the first time of asking with the music quality crisp and seamless.
The Samsung B2700 Bound is a vast improvement on the wimpy Samsung Solid. However, it’s still knocked out by the prowess of the hard hitting Sonim XP3 Enduro. That said, the Bound offers far more in terms of features, all of which function at a decent standard. If you’re in the market for a ruggedised toughphone but are a keen internet user or like the option of being able to take the occasional photograph, then we’d recommend the Samsung Bound. Yet if you want a phone that can survive pretty much anything you throw, drop or fire at it, then the Sonim XP3 Enduro is still the heavyweight champ of the mobile phone world.