Samsung knows how to pack small handsets with lots of features and the E720 clamshell phone is no exception. It is one of the few new handsets to offer extra features without a penalty when it comes to size.
The stylish, two-tone phone weighs a tiny 90g and measures 90x45x23mm. It fits well in the hand and is perfect for slipping into your pocket. The E720 doesn't have quite everything, but first let's look at what it does have.
As a mobile for entertainment, the E720 includes a superior MP3 player, a megapixel camera and an excellent video camera. Samsung has pitched the E720 as a mobile jukebox-cum-phone, like Motorola's E398. The two companies have approached the addition of MP3 differently. Whereas Motorola has a removable storage card and stereo speakers, Samsung has gone for MP3 controls on the front of the phone and 88.5mb of built in memory.
Motorola's approach seems to make more sense to us and Samsung is rumoured to have a handset similar to the E720 but with a removable card slot in the offing. There is no shortage of options for putting tracks on your phone with both USB and Bluetooth for connecting to your computer. The phone plays MP3 files, not WMA.
Songs can be set as ringtones, which is difficult to resist although the Crazy Frog may invite murder by a stranger and Samsung's excellent one stop button for quiet mode helps if you need to silence the phone quickly. Buttons on the front of the phone enable you to play, pause, forward and rewind without opening the handset but only once you have selected MP3 mode. Once started, you can operate the MP3 with your phone in your pocket using the external controls. We liked this a lot. Music plays either through the phone's loudspeaker or supplied stereo headphones. We preferred the headphones as music on the loudspeaker didn't sound too good to us.
Samsung rounds off its entertainment package with four games, including Freekick, which take advantage of the excellent screen. It's not as big as the screen on Samsung's D500, but matches it for quality.
What is missing from the E720 is speakerphone and voice recognition. If you are in the habit of talking to your phone and using it set down on a desktop, Samsung phones are not for you. It does have a voice recorder, which records voice memos up to an hour.
As far as the basics go, we had no problems using the keypad. Menus and controls were logical although with so many functions in such a small space, there are a lot of sub-menus to find. Samsung does manage to keep the most useful functions to a single press of a button and it's no surprise that the company has brought us the easiest phone to operate as an MP3 player to date.
The camera operates by pressing a button on the side of the handset and volume control stays on the side of the phone too. Samsung's antenna technology gave us good call quality for incoming and outgoing voice calls.
Samsung will probably find better ways of integrating MP3 in the future, but for the time being this is still a great phone, packed with features in an attractive, small and slim handset.
The company's success in Europe, where it is second only to Nokia, is largely down to phones like the E720, which fit so well into the replacement handset market.
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