Review by Sunetra Chakravati,
12/12/2011 3:58:06 PM
Its innovative design means the Samsung B3310 will stand out from the crowd.
The 40MB of internal memory is rather miserly and although you?ll be able to top it up with a microSD card you?ll have to invest in this yourself.
Phones that sport novel designs can be hit and miss. While they may offer a certain novelty value, if their usability suffers as a result then any quirkiness is quickly replaced with disappointment. So it was with somewhat baited breath that we got to grips with the Samsung B3310, that not only showcases said novelty value, but also falls under that affordable social networking banner that is so often thrown about.
So what of this novel design? Well basically it all stems down to the fact that the numeric keys lie in a straight line down the left hand side of the front fascia. It certainly looks odd, but there is method to the madness, at least in theory. The Samsung B3310 houses a slide-out QWERTY keyboard and the idea is that when you have slid the keyboard out, the numeric keys will sit just below the screen a la an actual keyboard found on a PC or laptop. Fair enough, but we have two gripes with this. Firstly, you won't always want to slide the keyboard out, especially when making a quick call. Though you can use the phone when closed, pressing the numeric keys in this lined fashion felt very unnatural and ultimately slow paced. Secondly, even when the keyboard is slid out, the numbers are painted onto the keys at an angle that doesn't make it that easy to decipher them individually.
The QWERTY keyboard itself is also on the fiddly side. We don't think we're making any presumptions that the B3310 is aimed at the teeny bopper generation - the fact that the spacebar has a smiley face emblazoned across it was a bit of a giveaway - so the small keys maybe fine for the youth of today, but we struggled with our fatter thumbs. On the plus side the transformation of the screen from portrait to landscape when the keyboard has been slid out is impressively smooth and quick.
At the bottom of the screen is a thin tool bar that has shortcuts to a variety of features, all of which can be accessed by scrolling with the D-pad. Here you can reach your inbox for example, compose a new SMS or access your Facebook and MySpace accounts. MySpace seems a strange inclusion, especially as Twitter appears to be the social networking platform of choice these days, but perhaps we're just out of touch. The internet experience is geared towards every so often, rather than the hardened web surfer. There's no 3G so loading websites can be a frustrating experience, while the screen size (two-inch) means the pages often look squashed and requires a lot of scrolling.
The Camera is also lacking both in terms of megapixels (a solitary two) and a flash (of any description). What you do get is a tiny mirror on the back of the phone. We've never really understood the purpose of these - it's too small and too cloudy for you to check out your hair - though we're told it helps line up any portrait shots you're taking of yourself. The volume keys which double up as the zoom are well positioned for easy access with your left thumb when holding the phone in a horizontal position, and the B3310 does have something of a DSLR feel to it. Settings can be altered manually or simply rely on the auto settings. However, we found that our best results were achieved by changing the settings ourselves. For example, when taking snaps indoors, the white balance auto setting left our pics drained of colour. Far better results were achieved when we switched to fluorescent.
Fair play to Samsung for trying something new. Its novel approach to the numeric keys is applaudable, but ultimately it fails to cut the mustard with an irksome user experience. The Samsung B3310 may find some love among those shopping on a shoestring, but beyond that we don't see this particular style catching on.