The first thing you'll notice about the P510 is that it has an auto-opening feature for the ultra-lazy. A press of the side button and the phone will open and close automatically, through a smooth motor driven action. While such automation may seem twee, until you have experienced the sweet sound the motor makes, or felt the adoration of inspired onlookers, you shouldn't be too hasty to write it off as a novelty gimmick.
Apart from the opening function, the P510 is a well-rounded phone with a 65k colour display. The external OLED display is excellent. Icons are displayed in two colours, with a retro styling and choice of clock displays. As Samsung made such an impact with the rotating camera spindle on the classic V200, comparisons to this and other models are unavoidable. The industrial style chrome shell is still evident, but with softer curves. Those annoying rubber plugs are replaced (for the headphone socket at least) , by a hard flip/twist cover. The plug for the charger socket is made of hard plastic, but still likely to be lost in the carpet after the first couple of charges.
In general, the menus are less childish on the colour display and the OLED adds a professional touch to the exterior. Additionally an outbox for SMS, missing from the V200 has been added, suggesting a better allocation of onboard memory.
The camera is front-mounted, making it awkward for self-portraits, but helped along by the flash LED and we found in tests this really does makes the difference for indoor shots. The quality of video capture is great and there are several effects for stills. Choose from frames, tints and split screen arrangements. There is even an option to shoot a series of 15 quick shots and choose the best results to save.
Supporting tri-band GSM as well as boasting GPRS, a v2.0 WAP browser, the usual awful polyphonic ringtones, and plenty of twists to the still image capture the phone is a light weight, distinctly Samsung-looking handset, weighing just 92 grams and measuring 84x48x24mm.
Battery consumption is increased by the auto flip, but not by any noticeable amount. Our fingers have hardly left that magic button in a week and the battery held up pretty well. As usual, Samsung honours you with a slim and standard battery. Replenish these in a nifty 200-minute charge time and expect 4 hours talk and 10 days/240hours standby from the larger of the two.
Despite the obvious gimmick, this is solid camera phone from Samsung. Some glitches of the Samsung OS have been overcome, yet the rotating camera of the V200 and the elegance of the stunning Samsung E710 are lost. The LG U8810 has set the course with the central rotating camera and it’s a shame their Korean rivals couldn’t use similar design here.
Probably the one thing holding back the SGH-P510, and others in the genre, is the lack of memory. Without Bluetooth or a memory card, there is a certain limitation on the interactivity of a multimedia phone. If you are looking for a fun phone, this will appeal to the kid in all of us. Plenty of thought has been put in here and shines through the novelty flip however be warned once the automated flip feature wears thin - this phone will soon become the same as the rest.