Samsung Jet - First Look review

"Smarter than a smartphone", declares Samsung about its new flagship handset. But exactly how brainy is it? Pocket-lint took a closer look at the Unpacked launch event in Battersea, London.

Samsung is shouting about three major features of the Jet. First is the display, second is the processor, and third is the proprietary operating system.

Let's start with the display. It's a 3.1-inch AMOLED, which translates in non-technical terms to being big and pretty. AMOLED displays are able to achieve incredible contrast ratios while consuming very little power (and therefore extending battery life).

While not quite as vast as the iPhone's 3.5-inch display or the company's own new Omnia II at 3.7-inches, we found the 3.1-inches of real estate more than enough for watching video content, especially when distracted by the quality of the picture.

In fact, you'll find the picture sharper than many other phones, because its resolution is WVGA. Many other phones operate in WQVGA, and Samsung claims that the resolution on the Jet is four times higher than that. More pixels are packed into a smaller space.

Next up is the processor. It's clocked at 800MHz, leading to Samsung's claim that it's fastest smartphone on the market. For comparison, the iPhone's processor recently doubled in speed but the 3G S still only runs at 600MHz. Of course it won't hold this mantle for long, the Toshiba TG01 will be 1GHz (thanks to Snapdragon), however that isn't out yet.

We could really feel the snappiness of that processor in action when using the touchscreen. In contrast to some other Samsung handsets, the taps felt responsive and speedy. Of course, this was a fresh handset - after a year's use, you'll be running a bit slower.

Don't expect wonders on this front - it's still just a phone, and shifting from portrait to landscape or opening the camera does take a moment or two. But it is noticeably faster than its predecessors.

Then there's the interface. Samsung claims that the operating system is totally proprietary and that they've built it from the ground up. The thing is, it's not terribly different from any other OS you've used. It's certainly not any better.

On the bright side, that means that you won't have too much trouble finding things. On the other hand, though, isn't that a bit of a waste of energy - designing an OS from the ground up to be very similar to everyone else's?

There are a lot of things you can say about the Jet's OS, but "it's fun to use" isn't one of them. "It's pretty" isn't one, either. If you're going to put your phone in the same ballpark as the iPhone, HTC Magic and Palm Pre, then you have to have the interface to compete.

But the real kicker is that the proprietary OS on the Jet doesn't have any app support. No Google Mail, Maps or Search. No Twitter client. No nothing that Samsung doesn't build internally. Very limiting. Going with Android instead would have been a much better move. Samsung says it's got "something in the works" here, but we're reviewing as seen, and at present there's zilcho app support.

Now we've covered what Samsung's been shouting about, there's the bits that Samsung isn't shouting about. It isn't shouting about the 3.5mm headphone jack, the HSDPA access, the support for a zillion media file formats and the Micro-USB charger.

Samsung should be shouting about those - because although those things aren't standard on every phone, they damn well should be. A small, 5-second round of applause for Samsung for including the obvious. It often goes unappreciated, but not here.

The other benefit of the Jet is that it's pushing a very aggressive price point. Free on a 2-year £20 a month contract is very low, especially while there's a recession on and everyone is complaining about the iPhone being expensive. Samsung could do rather well with the Jet if only for that reason.

Verdict

Samsung hasn't made a phone that can beat the iPhone, the HTC Magic, or any of the other smartphones out this summer. Its closest rival is probably the N97, but the N97's whopping storage (only 2GB on the Jet) means that it too outclasses the Samsung handset.

A superfast processor is all well and good, but if it's not driving a sophisticated and intuitive operating system then what's the point?

From our brief time with the phone, its clear that while it's a smartphone, it's probably not as smart as Samsung might have us believe.