The F700 sports a large touch-screen and slide-out QWERTY keypad. It may be on the chunky side, but it still looks and feels great - even if it is something of a poor man's iPhone.
The touch-screen interface is somewhat unresponsive, so the QWERTY keypad will come in useful. When the keypad is pulled out, the screen automatically transforms into landscape view. A virtual shortcut button in the centre of the screen leads to a host of different functions.
A speedy HSDPA connection, full slide-out QWERTY keypad and a three-megapixel camera, complete with auto-focus, makes the F700 a beast of a phone. It also boasts Google Maps and YouTube, found under the Applications section of the Entertainment menu button.
While there's no built-in GPS, Google Maps should get you close enough to your destination to ask for directions. Built-in HSDPA means speedy downloads and the camera is more than capable. The QWERTY keypad is a joy to use, but the touch-screen can prove a tad frustrating.
With a talktime of 270 minutes and a standby time of 300 hours, the F700's battery life is more middle distance than marathon.
Review by Sunetra Chakravati,12/12/2011 3:51:16 PM
Look and feel
Ease of use
The F700 houses a strong music player, a decent camera, comfortable keyboard, and the HSDPA connection is great for downloading music.
The lack of Wi-Fi is disappointing, as is the touch-screen.
There's no going back. We're now living in a world with the iPhone. It's going to influence every phone from now on; in fact, it already makes a lot of handsets look out of date.
Such is the case with Samsung's new smartphone, the F700. If we had seen it a few months back, the Mobile Choice verdict would have been, ‘an impressive, powerful smartphone'. Now, in comparison to the iPhone, the touch-screen user interface is unresponsive and awkward.
The F700 is a great-looking phone, but it does look a little like a low-rent iPhone. The screen is large, but although it's as tall as the iPhone's, it's not as wide and the resolution is significantly lower.
The F700 is also chunkier due to the additional slide-out QWERTY keyboard. However, this is where the F700 trumps the iPhone. You see, the iPhone's small virtual keyboard is not ideal for typing messages and emails. Touch-screens are tricky for typing because there's no physical travel, and with the iPhone there's a further restriction because you can only type text messages in portrait format, instead of landscape where the keypad is bigger. On the F700, the small but exceptionally comfortable QWERTY keyboard comes into its own and is ideal for typing lengthy messages and emails.
If you do want to use the F700's virtual phone keypad to dial a number, it vibrates when you touch the screen which makes for a more satisfying press, although you'll probably find you prefer to use the QWERTY keyboard for faster typing.
Although the F700's interface isn't poor, it doesn't feel particularly intuitive. When the screen is on standby, you press the physical button just under the screen to wake it up. There are four icons along the top of the screen; one indicates whether the ringer is on or off, then there are icons for menu, keypad and call records. In the centre of the screen is a virtual shortcut button that leads you to the music player, messaging, internet functions and the keypad and menu. Slide the keyboard open and the same icons twist to landscape format - although there's no capability for the phone to know when you tip it on its side, unlike the iPhone.
The F700 is available on Vodafone contracts, which includes the operator's MusicStation service, which for £1.99 per week gives you unlimited access to 1.2 million music tracks. And here we come to one of the areas where the F700 beats the iPhone hands down - because it's a 3G, HSDPA device, the fast connection means you can easily download music over the air. And with MusicStation, you can download tracks on demand and create playlists. It's simple to use and the graphic realisation of the track you're playing, with pause, play, and skip track is effective. The sound quality is impressive and the HSDPA connection means tracks download fast. Eat your heart out, iPhone. Although, stop your subscription and your music will disappear.
As well as using MusicStation, you can buy tracks over the air from Vodafone Live! and transfer music from your PC. Music playback also sound good enough through the supplied headphones.
The F700 comes with Google Maps software built-in. There's no GPS receiver in the phone, but it uses the mobile phone network to ascertain where you are on the map. In practice, it didn't find exactly where I was, but I was close enough to ask for directions.
Google Maps is found under the Applications section of the Entertainment menu button, alongside YouTube, allowing you to stream content from the site. The speedy HSDPA connection makes this a doddle. Our one grip, however, is that there is no Wi-Fi on the F700, which is a strange and disappointing omission. Something for the next version perhaps, Samsung?
As the F700 is a Vodafone 3G handset, it includes Mobile TV and the various Sky and BBC channels, which looks pretty impressive on the handset's large screen. Accessing and surfing the internet is also a pleasure, especially when you slide open the keyboard, although occasionally a double-tap on the desired link went unnoticed.
On the back of the F700 is a three-megapixel camera. This is no great surprise, as Samsung has been putting excellent cameras into its handsets for ages now. And of course, it is more powerful than the iPhone's two-megapixel camera.
Welcome additional camera features on the F700 are auto-focus, instead of the usual fixed focus lens, and a bright LED light (not a flash) that comes on if needed. In fact, the results are pretty impressive, although not quite up to the standard of Samsung's G800 snapper, of course.
The F700 has a decent battery life, which needs to be charged about every other day. But, of course, if you use the HSDPA connection often this will drain the battery more quickly.
The F700 is a great addition to Samsung's range of smartphones, with its neat camera, Vodafone's simple MusicStation software, and an excellent QWERTY keyboard hidden behind a slide mechanism. But the touch-screen at the centre of it all is unresponsive and unreliable, and it takes care and patience to use it successfully. Although, slide out the keyboard and things improve hugely.
Overall, the HSDPA connectivity makes speedy downloads a cinch, although the lack of Wi-Fi is puzzling and, of course, there's no getting away from the fact that, since the iPhone launched, we know how wonderful touch-screen interfaces can be. And, in comparison, the F700 is a little fiddly, which takes the gilt off an otherwise interesting and handsome phone.