Samsung L700 review: Cool as Metal
Samsung L700 is a lower midrange fella and its main selling points are solid construction, metal body and fast 3G speeds. Before you frown at the shortish specs list do remember that it's not aiming high. It's set instead to address a chronic shortage of style in this price range.
We are yet to see what kind of difference Samsung L700 will make, but you can bet it's going to be a tough fight against some pretty popular handsets there already. When we pick cell phones to review we rarely go down to this market segment, but our experience tells us the L700 will probably win its share of content customers.
While certainly not the hottest looker there is, we rarely see such commendable build quality and freehanded use of metal in the competition. We hit the pedal to the metal without much further ado to see how the L700 handles the race track.
- Metallic body and solid construction
- Quad-band GSM support plus GPRS and EDGE
- UMTS 2100Mhz with video calls
- 2.1" display with a resolution of 176 x 220 pixels
- 2 megapixel fixed focus camera with LED flash
- microSD card slot (up to 8GB)
- Stereo Bluetooth (A2DP)
- FM radio with RDS
- Office document viewer
- Smart dialing
- ShoZu integration (direct image and video uploads)
- Basic Google integration
- Relatively low display resolution
- Trimmed down user interface as compared to Samsung seniors
- Video recording tops out at QCIF resolution
- Poor web browser
There's a handful of paintjobs for Samsung L700 but, knowing how things work, we doubt it all of them will see the mass market. Samsung usually sell the more interesting color versions to large retail chains or carriers so they can benefit from exclusivity.
Our review deals with the garden variety, a.k.a. Titan Silver. A pre-release unit it is, so bear in mind that some of the stuff in this review may be subject to change before the actual handsets start shipping.
Samsung L700 is heading full tilt to some tough and fierce competition at a starting retail price of around 150 euro (220 US dollars). That kind of cash opens up plenty of choice of similarly equipped devices. Of course, we do expect the price to start leveling off by Christmas.
First off, there are Sony Ericsson W660 (about 140 euro) and Sony Ericsson K530 (about 110 euro). These two are practically identical and match the L700 to the smallest detail, except for the metal casing, slightly slimmer waistline and quad-band functionality. However we must note that the M2 memory cards they use are also slightly more expensive than the microSD variety the L700 supports.
Next up in the QVGA segment are the similarly equipped Sony Ericsson G502 (about 130 euro) and Sony Ericsson K660 (about 150 euro). They still don't offer quad-band GSM support, but top the L700 with HSDPA and higher-res screens. The Sony Ericsson G502 even takes a go at the slim girth and just misses it by less than a millimeter. The Sony Ericsson K770 Cyber-shot (about 150 euro) also offers similar specs and price tag but impresses with a much better 3 megapixel autofocus camera.
The Nokia offer in this segment is without doubt the now elderly and 3G-less Nokia 6300 (about 110 euro) and Nokia 3120 classic (about 130 euro). Nokia 6300 has a similar design and is slimmer. The QVGA display resolution is also a plus. The Nokia 3120 classic however matches the L700 with quad-band GSM functionality and slim silhouette and too outpaces it with the higher-res QVGA screen. Still, the 3120 classic is way too plastic to stand up to the full-metal jacket of Samsung L700.
If you really dig the metallic body of Samsung L700, you may go ahead and check out the slightly more expensive Sony Ericsson W890 (about 210 euro) and Samsung U800 Soul b (about 240 euro), which offer slimmer profile, HSDPA, higher-res screens and 3 megapixel cameras. Having taken the step up to that price bracket, you might as well have a look at the Nokia E51 (about 180 euro) - a Symbian smartphone with excellent build quality and Wi-Fi.
But enough on other phones - let's not steal the show from Samsung L700. The shiny brushed steel surface and excellent ergonomics are a short jump away.