Samsung E590

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Samsung E590
  • Samsung E590
  • Samsung E590
  • Samsung E590

Pros

  • Small, Compact and Lightweight, Solid features list, 3 megapixel camera with autofocus, Excellent user interface

Cons

  • Plain design, Small display, Navigation Joystick a little short

Bottom Line

The E590 is without doubt one of the most compact and lightweight handsets currently available on the market. But its plain, matte plastic design means you'll either love it, or hate it.

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Weighing a mere 66g, the candybar-style Samsung E590 is one of the smallest and most compact phones currently available on the market. It's a basic-to-mid range handset boasting an impressive feature set, which includes a 3 megapixel camera with autofocus, a music player with an FM radio and Bluetooth. To give it some added prestige the E590 has been designed by Jasper Morisson - a leading industrial designer.

Features

The E590 is a standard tri-band GSM handset. It has reasonable call clarity, with strong volume. The hands-free speakerphone is also loud and clear, and it's easily switched on during a phone call by pressing the joystick when on a call.

The E590 is equipped with a 3 megapixel camera that features auto focus, macro mode and a new feature Samsung dubs Rapid Focus, designed to improve shutter speed. The camera also captures video in MPEG4 format. Performance is average; the shots produced naturally aren't good enough for any sort of serious photography, but they are more than adequate to use as background wallpaper or basic happy snaps. The camera has plenty of options including multi, mosaic and panorama shot modes, effects such as black and white, sepia and negative, 29 picture frames and a three, five or 10 second self-timer.

As is a common trait among Samsung handsets, the E590's user interface is excellent. Despite the joystick being a bit short, navigation is speedy and the menus are well laid out. The 'uPlus' feature remains, offering intuitive navigation that responds to your environment. For example, when you dial a phone number, a small image of Sydney appears in the corner of the screen. This picture changes depending on your location. It also responds to the time of day and changes accordingly; at night the sky will be dark, while during the day it appears blue. Another cool feature occurs when dialling a phone number; upon pressing a number key a paper and pen animation appears and begins to write the numbers as you press them, even including sound effects.

The E590 allows you to create a personalised menu of shortcuts that sits on the main screen. This enables quick access to frequently used menu items, such as calendar, SMS messaging and email. The interface also highlights each selected menu item with a different colour scheme, creating a contrast with the rest of the phone. For security, Samsung's mobile tracker feature is present. When a SIM card in the E590 is replaced, the mobile tracker sends an SMS message to an earlier nominated phone number, revealing the mobile phone number of the new SIM card.

The E590 has Bluetooth and USB 2.0, and the A2DP profile for wireless music streaming. The MP3 player is compatible with MP3, AAC, AAC+ and WMA files, and features basic play list support, repeat and shuffle play modes, a preset equaliser and 3D sound effects - and there is also an FM radio. Sound quality is average and a proprietary headphone jack hinders its use as an MP3 player. Files can be stored on the phone's 85MB internal memory, or a microSD card (not included).

Standard POP3 and IMAP4 email access is offered, as is SMS and MMS messaging with T9 predictive text input, polyphonic and MP3 ring tones and a voice recorder. PIM features are plentiful, with alarm, calendar, memo, world clock, calculator, converter, timer and stopwatch all present.

Design

We didn't know what to think when we first picked up the E590. Measuring 94mm x 42.5mm x 13.5mm, it's certainly light and compact, and it cups beautifully in your hands. It's one of the smallest phones we've reviewed, and weighing in at just 66g is light enough to slide into your pocket and forget about. However, its design is contentious. Finished in a plain, matte-black plastic casing, the E590 looks as minimalist as a piece of paper. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, depending on what your tastes are; it certainly manages to stand out from the competition, but for different reasons than usual. We have mixed feelings about the E590's design; on one hand the plain casing adds a touch of subtle class, but on the other hand the plastic finish doesn't quite justify this phone's asking price.

The good news is, despite the small size of the unit, the controls are relatively well laid out. We would have appreciated a longer five-way navigational joystick, but the rest of the controls (and keypad) feature slightly raised keys that have enough space between them to ensure you don't accidentally press the wrong buttons. The 1.79in display does feel a little cramped though, and it isn't the brightest or clearest display we've seen. It suffers from a poor viewing angle and is difficult to read in direct sunlight.

Battery life is a little below average, with just four hours talk time and up to 200 hours standby time. With moderate use, you'll need to charge the E590 every two nights.

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