Samsung Blue Earth – Review

As I posted earlier, I bought a Samsung Blue Earth. You will find out that it is also known as S-7550 and GT-7550. When trying to know its specification, try any site in the web, but run from Samsung website. Its website specifications for this mobile phone are wrong. As a simple example, they state it doesn’t have WiFi, while it has.

The box contains the minimum. A quick manual (after looking at Samsung website, found out it is the short guide, as there is an expanded guide you can download), the warranty document, the mobile phone, the battery, a USB microphone and a earphone (standard earphone that you can use anywhere else, or plugging it into the microphone adapter, that is, you can’t connect them directly to the phone, and that is a shame). What is missing, it the standard USB cable to connect it to a computer, and a CD with software to interact with the phone. Talking about the software, it is available to download in the Samsung website, but it isn’t available for Mac OS X.

The phone, itself, has a dark blue color that can be both appealing or repelling. It is one of the details that mark it, for the good or the bad. Another interesting detail is the solar panel in the rear. More on that later.

Operating System and User Interface

Nowadays, geeks are fascinated by Android or iOS. Unfortunately S-7550 operating system is none of these. It is a Samsung proprietary system. While the interface is clean, it is not as intuitive as I would like.

S-7550 has a dashboard-like space, with three virtual desktops. This means you can add widgets to each desktop, and cycle through them when needed. This is great as it does not limit the widget area for a single screen. But I do not like the idea of having this value hard coded. In the other hand, being hard coded, means one can have a wide image background that moves correctly when you cycle through desktops. More on the widgets later.

To use any application you need to switch from the dashboard to the menu. This is a typical menu with small icons, and different tabs (or different menus, or different desktops, as you prefer). It is easy to move icons along, and cycle through the menus.

Regarding input: the touch screen sometimes can be insensitive. The virtual keyboard is based on a mobile phone keyboard, meaning that you need T9 input to type faster. Fortunately it includes dictionaries for different languages, making it easier to write messages and e-mails in different languages.

Connectivity

My current tariff does not include data connection, and therefore I will not comment on that type of connections. Regarding the others:

  • Bluetooth works quite easily for document sharing. It uses the mobile phone PIN for handshaking. I do not own any other kind of bluetooth device, and therefore I can’t test much regarding this. I would love to have bluetooth to sync address book with something in the Mac, but it doesn’t seem to exist. I can send files to the phone from my Mac, but when browsing files on the phone, none is shown. I just see the folder names, not the files. Fortunately there is an option to send file by Bluetooth that can be used when browsing the files directly on the phone.
  • WiFi configuration is similar to the Bluetooth one. The fact of using a similar interface makes it easier to get used to. Also, as soon as one of this connectivity protocols is activated a clear icon appears in the top of the display.

Web

My experiments with the Web browser were using WiFi. The pages load relatively fast, and render correctly. Unfortunately, the interface to navigate (zoom and pan) in the webpage is not easy to control. When using the mobile websites (like mobile interface for Gmail) things get more usable.

Some times some links get unresponsive. While trying to follow the link, the browser does not move. That’s infuriating.

To fill in forms, there is the need to click in the input element, and another screen to input the text will show up. In this screen you will use the phone keyboard to input your text, and then return to the browser.

GPS

Accordingly with Samsung, this mobile phone does not have a GPS. But it has. By default there is a configuration option where S-7550 shows the satellites and your coordinates. Or I am lost, or it doesn’t work, as they do not change from 0, 0, 0. The phone also includes a Java application to navigate in Google maps. Unfortunately, as far as I can tell at the moment, it doesn’t in Portugal. The error message redirects the user to http://www.google.co.uk/mobile/gmm/configure.html where Portugal is not listed. I might try to install some other applications but report the result on other post, as it is not a built-in feature.

Also curious is that the manual redirects the user to http://www.66.com/samsung/ where this model is not listed.

Widgets

I did not test all widgets yet. But you can expect the usual calendar, digital or analogous clock, world clock, shortcuts to read or send messages, information on the current selected communications courier, weather information, notes, etc. It also includes two multimedia widgets, the MP3 player and a FM Radio.

Solar Panel

You do not need to put the phone in full solar light. As far as you are outside, and some sunlight is lighting part of the panel, a small light near the panel will lit, and the charging from solar energy icon will show up. As you might guess, this is just to help and delaying the usual electricity based charging procedure.

Pushing E-mail

There is an option to push e-mail to the phone. Unfortunately and as far as I can tell, it does not work using WiFi, only 3G. That sucks.

NOTE: I might add more notes to this review, including pictures, but I think I should make this text available now.