A chic looking phone, it ain't. But the point here is something reliable and tough enough to survive knocks, dust and splashes. It looks the part
The big keys are easy to use under any circumstances, though the navigation pad is a touch more fiddly
It's no smartphone but there are plenty of outdoors-related extras like compass, torch and GPS
Browsing isn't fast but the rest of this phone works well enough
It'll last a day or two, or an extensive hike or rock climb without trouble
Review by Sunetra Chakravati,12/12/2011 4:01:01 PM
Look and feel
Ease of use
Unusual features and strong rugged capabilities
Dull look and feel. No 3.5mm headphone jack
What's your type? Do you fancy rugged or pretty? Tough beefcake or willowy brainbox? The latest Samsung ruggedised phone is, frankly, no cutie though it's certainly tough and, as its name suggests, solid. And like almost every ruggedised phone, it's no clever clogs, either.
So far only one rugged phone has had much grey matter - the excellent Motorola Defy, which combined Android smarts with decent strength. The Solid Immerse seems stronger but doesn't quite match the Defy for smartphone skills, though it's certainly more sophisticated than its rugged rivals.
Previous phones in the Samsung Solid range have been mostly aimed at builders or the exceptionally clumsy. This phone, however, is aimed at those with an active lifestyle, who want a phone that won't shatter if it falls from a pocket when they're rock-climbing. And Samsung has absolutely got the active customer in mind throughout - including adding GPS. It's not designed as a TomTom replacement, but it is there to make sure you know which direction you're heading.
The menu includes an Apps icon and here you'll find a wealth of options that may be helpful if you're in the great outdoors, including a pedometer, compass, stopwatch and - for those more laidback rambling moments - an FM radio.
The keypad buttons are big and slightly domed so that they're easy to use even if you're wearing gloves. The keys may not look sexy but they're highly accessible. The navigation pad is less successful, sitting lower in the frame than I'd have liked so it's easy to accidentally press the adjacent select button when navigating sideways. This is a shame, as the handy carousel of shortcuts at the top of the screen for messaging, camera, music playback and more is mostly accessed via the pad. It's usable but not quite as nimble as it could have been.
We can't really complain about the low-resolution screen or how puny it looks sitting so far from the front of the phone - it has to be buried far from the lens to keep it safe. The screen quality is further reduced by the fact that the lens is scratchproof, so extreme clarity isn't its first priority. And any phone where the screen isn't scratched to death after five minutes accidentally spent in a pocket with keys is worth considering.
As you'll guess from the name, this phone is big on waterproofing. It'll work when it's a metre down in liquid and survive underwater for up to 30 minutes. Even changing the battery involves turning a clasp with a penny to get the case open or closed. It feels secure and reliable. Water was no problem to the phone in our tests, and with loudspeaker engaged it even transmitted the caller's voice from the bottom of the sink. There's a big hook for a lanyard at the top, so you shouldn't be dropping it too much anyway.
The Immerse also has Facebook and Twitter apps - log on to get your updates. It's not an integrated option like on many phones but it's a quick way to keep up with your friends.
The camera is basic (two megapixels, no flash) but enough for snaps. There's no 3.5mm headphone jack - the covered connector is a micro USB one. Oh, and there's no Wi-Fi, but where would you be getting coverage outdoors anyway?
This is not a phone you'd want to show off on a night out, but at least it can help you find your way home, thanks to the GPS and a torchlight that shines out of the top of the handset.