Samsung Blue Earth mobile phone
The first ecofriendly touchscreen phone succeeds at Web browsing and videos, but falters at other multimedia tasks
- Smooth browser interface, made from recycled materials, uses solar energy
- Small display, little documentation or equipment included
The first ecofriendly touchscreen phone, Samsung's Blue Earth succeeds at Web browsing and videos, but falters at other multimedia tasks.
The Samsung Blue Earth (unlocked GSM world phone; U.S. pricing not available) is the latest in a new batch of ecofriendly phones, including Samsung's own Reclaim handset. However, the Blue Earth--available in Western Europe for 300 euros now, and in Asia by year's end--is the first green phone with a touchscreen. It is pretty compact and powerful, but a few limitations keep it from shining.
Measuring 4 by 2 inches, and just over a half inch thick, the Blue Earth is one of the smaller touchscreen phones available. The 3-inch touchscreen takes up most of the face. Below the screen are three keys: a green confirm button, a red power/cancel button, and a royal-blue home button that matches the hue of the rest of the device. A quad-band phone, the Blue Earth uses the EDGE/GPRS network but does not support U.S. 3G networks. It weighs 4 ounces and unobtrusively fits in a pocket.
The touchscreen is nice and responsive. When touched, the Blue Earth vibrates, but it also emits a corresponding beep. As annoying as the noise could be, it creates a kind of certainty for the user; pressing a number prompts one type of beep, starting a program produces another, and so on.
The real selling point here, of course, is the environment-oriented design. The phone is made from post-consumer materials, more specifically recycled water bottles. The box is also made of recyclable materials. Finally, on the back of the phone is a solar panel that will slowly charge the battery.
Even Earth-sensitive techies will be surprised at the lack of support inside the box, however. The Blue Earth comes with no instructions and no mini-USB connector. A wall plug and headphones are included, but learning how to use the smartphone requires a trip online. The package offers nothing to highlight the Blue Earth Web page for further information, and the site doesn't provide a downloadable manual. We're hoping that Samsung will correct this shortcoming in the very near future.
The main Blue Earth screen, divided into three areas, uses Samsung's TouchWiz widget user interface (as seen on the Impression, the Omnia, and other Samsung phones). With TouchWiz, you slide a widget to a particular area, and, within that spot, you can have the program running. Along the bottom are keypad, phone book, and menu icons. Tap a little tab in the bottom-left corner, and a thin column shows all of your multimedia information and programs. Filled with time-zone indicators, social networking services, and other items, the program list is overwhelming and terribly crowded--especially on such a small screen.
Music on the Blue Earth is below average, for a few reasons. The music player supports all major formats, such as AAC, MP3, and WMA; but, as mentioned earlier, Samsung doesn't include a mini-USB cord for you to transfer your own tunes. If you want to play music immediately, you'll need to use the built-in FM player or get songs from the proprietary service. The player itself is basic and easy to use, though the sound is heavy on the treble and rather tinny.
The most impressive Blue Earth multimedia functions are the Web browsing, the video playback, and the camera/camcorder. Surfing the Web is butter smooth, even on more complex sites, and the Blue Earth's accelerometer makes reading horizontally or vertically easy. YouTube and other video sites load up quickly, and look and sound great. I also liked the videos and pictures captured with the 3.2-megapixel camera. In camera mode, the lens area is surrounded with self-explanatory icons to help you improve the shot. The camcorder records at 15 frames per second and, surprisingly, replays at a higher sound quality than the music player.
In light of the impressive online setup, it is unfortunate that the Samsung Blue Earth doesn't support a full virtual QWERTY keyboard--even in horizontal mode. Instead, users must perform classic cell phone tapping, with "abc" on key 2 and so forth. With a 3-inch touch display, it seems so unnecessary.
Call quality and reception, on the other hand, are great. My only criticism is that voices tended to sound high-pitched--again, that's mostly an issue with Blue Earth's treble-heavy sound system. Expect to turn conversation volume down, lower than normal.
The Samsung Blue Earth proves that a solid, ecofriendly touchscreen phone can work. Ironically, the problems with the phone, such as the limited music player, the lack of support, and the puzzling on-screen keyboard, have nothing to do with being green.
Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!
Epson EcoTank Expression ET-2500
Microsoft L5V-00027 Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard Desktop
Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive
Samsung portable 1TB T3 drive
Linksys AC5400 MU-MIMO Gigabit router
Smart LED Bulb LB130
Everki ContemPRO Roll Top Laptop Backpack
Lexar® JumpDrive® S45 USB 3.0 flash drive
Belkin MIXIT Metallic Lightning to USB Cable
Logitech G403 Prodigy mouse
Google Daydream VR headset
3SIXT Ultra HD Sports Action Camera
Lexar® Portable SSD
Huawei Mate 9
Acer Swift 7
Lexar® JumpDrive® C20c USB Type-C flash drive
HP Pavilion x360 13”
Dell Inspiron 5000 series 2-in-1
Garmin Fenix Chronos smartwatch
Dell XPS 13 laptop
Surface Pro 4
HD Pan/Tilt Wi-Fi Camera with Night Vision NC450
Lexar® Professional 1800x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards
Blade 28 backpack by Arc’teryx
Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 Noise Cancelling Headphones
Most Popular Reviews
- 1 Star Wars Death Star Bluetooth levitating rotating speaker review
- 2 Finally! LG OLED TV 2016 range review
- 3 Fetch TV Mighty review: Better than Foxtel
- 4 Fetch TV Mini review: Make your TV a smart TV
- 5 Panasonic Viera DX900U UHD 4K smart TV review
Latest News Articles
- This $450 Core i5 laptop from HP costs less new than used
- AMD bundles Ashes of the Singularity with FX processors ahead of Ryzen's launch
- AT&T jumps on the unlimited data bandwagon with $100 per month plan
- Corsair Dominator Platinum DDR4-3000 RAM review
- Village Roadshow aims to block 40 pirate sites
GGG Evaluation Team
I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.
First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.
For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.
The Fujitsu LifeBook UH574 allowed for great mobility without being obnoxiously heavy or clunky. Its twelve hours of battery life did not disappoint.
The screen was particularly good. It is bright and visible from most angles, however heat is an issue, particularly around the Windows button on the front, and on the back where the battery housing is located.
- How to quit Pokemon Go (or to start enjoying it again)
- Japan's pop culture, anime-friendly, J-Pop shrine, Kanda Myojin
- The top 10 best and worst tech gadgets and products of 2016
- Which flagship TV is best? Sony 4K HDR Bravia 2016 versus LG 4K HDR OLED 2016
- 10 Blu-ray movies / Best looking Blu-ray movies
- FTDatabase DeveloperACT
- FTData Conversion LeadNSW
- FTBusiness Development Executive - Queensland Public SectorQLD
- CCSenior Storage System Engineer -NetApp & TSMNSW
- CCBusiness AnalystQLD
- CCTest AnalystQLD
- TPICT Project CoordinatorQLD
- FTBid ManagerVIC
- FTSoftware DeveloperVIC
- FTHead of ApplicationsVIC
- CCUser Experience Designer - Part time - Short contractACT
- CCTest AnalystQLD
- CCSenior .NET DeveloperNSW
- CCContract - System Access Administrator - major Telco in MelbourneVIC
- FTDynamics AX Functional Consultant (Supply Chain Modules)QLD
- FTSenior Java EngineerACT
- CCDeployment EngineerSA
- TPInformation Management SpecialistVIC
- FTMicrosoft Dynamics AX Technical ArchitectVIC
- FTMicrosoft ProgrammerSA
- TPe-Learning Developer (Captivate 8)VIC
- CCArcSight Security Engineer - Contract - IT Services - SydneyNSW
- CCDevops EngineerNSW
- TPIT Project ManagerNSW
- CCSenior Business Analyst - AgileQLD