Sometimes an excellent operating system can be made even better
A basic introduction to Next G
- Build quality, 3.6Mbps HSDPA, A2DP Bluetooth, camera can be rotated
- No outstanding features, poor display resolution, tactile feedback of controls, sluggish interface
The A561 is a basic handset. It has a few issues that are sure to make many people look elsewhere.
Price$ 589.00 (AUD)
The latest Samsung handset available for Telstra's high-speed Next G network, the A561 is a solid but largely unremarkable device. This flip phone will do the job, but isn't anything to get excited about and it does suffer from a few niggling issues that may make you want to look elsewhere for a handset.
As far as designs go, the A561 is a fairly standard flip phone. It feels well built and has a stylish brushed steel finish on the front and a metallic blue surface on the back. The flip mechanism feels sturdy and solid, although it's tricky to open with one hand.
The large 2.2in display is reasonable, but it's let down by a slightly low resolution of 176x220. The small external display is convenient and displays handy information such as battery life and caller ID.
The A561's flat keypad and controls may look stylish, but they cause some issues when messaging. Although the individual keys are large and well separated, tactile feedback could be improved; the keys require a firm press to activate. A five-way navigational pad does the bulk of the work during general browsing, and there are also plenty of convenient shortcuts, including e-mail, messaging, video calling and an application switcher.
Unfortunately, the A561 suffers from a sluggish user interface. The UI is well designed and fairly easy to use, but scrolling through lists and trying to select menu items results in a slight delay that rapidly becomes frustrating. Thankfully, messaging doesn't suffer the same issues.
The A561 offers HSDPA speeds of up to 3.6Mbps, and we were generally impressed with the results. The handset offers full access to the Next G portal, as well as Telstra's Mobile FOXTEL service. The large display works well for multimedia content, although the lower resolution impacts on videos. The music player application supports most common file formats, but Samsung's insistence on a proprietary headphone jack is frustrating. Thankfully, A2DP Bluetooth provides an alternative to using the included headphones. A microSD card slot allows users to add extra storage. Despite access to Next G services, this isn't a handset that we'd recommend for extensive multimedia use.
These features aside, the A561 is fairly standard. A 2-megapixel camera isn't fantastic for photos, but its placement on a rotating hinge that can be adjusted with the flick of a thumb means it doubles for video calling. Also present are a voice recorder and a reasonable number of PIM features, including alarms, calendar, memo, tasks, calculator, converter, timer and a stopwatch.
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