Samsung Diva GT-S7070 review

2.5 out of 5
Dependent on contract

For

Camera is reasonably good, design differentiates it from your regular black handset

Against

No 3.5mm jack, widgets vanished off home page, low resolution screen, uncomfortable for making calls

The Samsung Diva, GT-S7070 to use the number you'll never hear again, is a phone that is targeted straight at women. No, it isn't some red-blooded horn dog of a phone, but one that's been designed to cater to the needs of girlies.

Well the Diva isn't pink, but it's the next best things: pearly white, with a quilt effect back. It's instantly recognisable as a Samsung handset, fitting many of the design cues set out by the Jet last year – now you have a central button which is shaped like a diamond. It's a plastic diamond, but it is shiny, none the less.

The phone itself is compact, measuring 101.0 x 54.8 x 13.4mm, so you'll be able to fling it into your clutch bag with ease. The construction is all plastic, coming in at the affordable end of the market, but the build quality doesn't throw up any surprises.

On the front of the phone you'll find a 2.8-inch, 320 x 240 pixel resolution display. That's rather a low resolution and although the user interface fits it without too many dramas, once you start diving out online, you'll find that it isn't a great experience. Surprisingly for this type of phone, it features a capacitive touchscreen display.

Across the bottom of the screen you'll find the central diamond button, which serves as a back button, and the normal calling buttons. On the left-hand side are volume controls, and flap-covered Micro-USB hole for syncing and charging. On the right-hand side you get a lock and dedicated camera button.

The phone runs Samsung's TouchWiz interface, with homepages that you can swipe from side to side, adding widgets from a pop-out bar on the left-hand side. It's simple and easy to use: drag what you want from the side and position it on the screen. All the usual widget suspects are here, giving you media controls, weather, photos, a Facebook app, and so on.

Menus are based on a grid system, which again swipes from side to side, offering up more than it would first appear. There are some quirky applications that have been added to the Samsung Diva to cater specifically to the female market: you can make a wish list, price things up then dump them in shopping bags. You can setup a fake call, so if you secretly hate your friends and don't have the cojones to just walk away, you can pretend to ring yourself so you have an excuse to leave.

In terms of connectivity you don't get much. There is no GPS, 3G or Wi-Fi, so fast browsing online is out of the question. The low resolution screen and cumbersome browser make it an uncomfortable internet experience. You get Bluetooth to hook-up to wireless headphones or speakers.

The applications set out to make your life easier, but don't really offer a fully integrated experience. The Twitter application will let you compose and send tweets, but doesn't contain live links or let you post photos. You get Facebook, Bebo and MySpace apps too.

We fired up the Facebook app, which gives you access to status updates and messages, as well as adding photos, but is a little too cumbersome - you're better off using the mobile site. The widgets themselves will give you scrolling updates, but not much more. Frustratingly, we found that the Diva was forever removing the widgets we put on the homescreens and thereby losing the login details.

There is no 3.5mm jack, which seems like a crime on this type of phone, so you are left to tackle that flap-covered Micro-USB hole with the supplied headphones, which are fairly poor. Playing music will throw up the media player widget though, which we like, so you can pause and skip tracks without having to dig into the menus.

The haptics feel like someone dragging a rasp across your fingers, they actually seem to inhabit that operation of the device, so you might want to turn them off. We often found that we'd press things in passing too, diving off into a menu or application by mistake, especially when swiping the homescreens from side to side.

Text entry is reasonable, but lacks the satisfying speed and reliability you get from more advanced handsets. You are limited to T9 or multi-press to bash out those text messages, with no QWERTY keyboard on offer. Amongst the customisation to make the Diva more Diva-ish, fonts have been changed to something more dramatic. It doesn't help clarity and we can't help feeling that Samsung has opted for form over function.

Around the back of the phone is a 3.2-megapixel camera, which gives typically good results, something Samsung seem to have done well with. In good light it will capture reasonable pictures, but there is obvious shutter lag when pressing the button. Beauty and smile shot modes are on offer amongst other settings.

Video comes in at a rather lacklustre 320 x 240 pixels, at 15fps and stored as MPEG4. Moving subjects are juddery, but the quality isn't too bad given the low resolution. It will be fine for sharing online, although with that slow data connection, you might find it better through your PC connection at home.

Internal memory gives you 50MB of space, but a microSD card slot under the back cover will let you expand it up to 8GB. You can dump music directly on to this card, or use Samsung's PC Studio, although we found it only supported Windows XP and Vista, so wouldn't run on our Windows 7 machine.

As a phone we found that top edge made long calls uncomfortable, although call quality was good. The battery life is impressive, and we managed to get a couple of days from it.

Verdict

Overall the Samsung Diva it a typical entry-level phone. Some design and software tweaks have been made to make it female specific, but we suspect that many will see past this superficial tinkering and opt for a solid alternative, perhaps another from Samsung's line. The changes don't get over the fact that the day-to-day operation isn't the most intuitive.

We were disappointed that the widgets seemed to have a mind of their own, too, and when working, didn't really integrate social networking services as much as we'd like. The lack of a 3.5mm headphone jack is a real pain too, but you do get an FM radio.

For some the design may appeal and if your requirements from a phone are making calls and texting friends, then it will suit you fine, with the bonus of a half-decent camera. But then, so will many other devices at this price point.