Samsung has fused elements of both the Genio Touch and the Genio QWERTY to come up with a hybrid device – the Genio Slide.
The Samsung Genio Slide combines a 2.8-inch touchscreen display and a slide-out QWERTY keyboard, and sports the colourful swappable back panels and youth-targeted features – with an emphasis on social networking – that mark the previous Genio models.
However, the Genio Slide packs a far more powerful feature punch than its Genio mates – and consequently has much wider appeal.
Unlike its predecessors, the Genio Slide is a 3G-enabled handset, with high-speed HSDPA mobile data support (up to 7.2Mbps) and Wi-Fi connectivity built in.
It also has A-GPS satellite-based location finding onboard.
Cranking up the downloading and uploading speeds opens up the Genio Slide’s potential for a quicker and more enjoyable online media experience than the EDGE/GPRS-only Genio Touch and Genio QWERTY.
For instance, as well as faster applications such as Facebook, Bebo and MySpace, in the UK the Genio Slide comes with a BBC iPlayer app already installed, offering live and catch-up TV and radio programmes.
It also has pre-loaded links to mobile TV streaming services.
Onboard 3G also allows for video calling on this model, with a front-facing camera complementing the main 3.2-megapixel camera on the back of the phone.
In addition, Samsung aims to keep mobile music listeners happy by providing a standard 3.5mm headphone socket on top of the bodywork.
The review sample we tested also arrived with a 2GB MicroSD card included in the box, and memory cards up to 16GB are supported.
Initially, the Samsung Genio Slide is debuting in the UK for free on contract deals and £120 on pay as you go, where it’s currently being offered by Vodafone and Tesco Mobile.
The Genio Slide has a broader girth, thanks to the sliding keyboard tucked away behind the screen, but the phone’s dimensions – at 105(h) x 56.9(w) x 15.68(d) mm and 135g – give it a compact and solid feel.
It’s impressive that despite it bringing a full QWERTY keyboard, it’s no pocket bulger, so you won’t get anyone asking if you’re pleased to see them.
Pitching for the youth vote, the Samsung Genio Slide comes with swappable ‘Fashion Jacket’ back panels, adding a bit of customisation potential for would-be buyers.
Three of the clip-on covers are included in-box – with our sample we got a business-like black cover, plus two white ones, one with a retro swirly pattern on it.
It’s hardly a deal-maker, but some users may welcome the chance to get away from the normal black touchscreen look and go a bit funk-a-delic.
From the front, though, the Samsung Genio Slide does have an archetypal Samsung touchscreen design – it’s glossy black minimalist, with just Call, End and a central Menu button under the display.
The 2.8-inch QVGA (240×320 pixels) touchscreen display is a resistive type rather than a higher-end iPhone 3GS-like capacitive one, so doesn’t have multi-touch and the smooth flowing action of Apple’s headliner.
The 2.8-inch screen isn’t as lengthy as some we’ve seen and its wider dimensions are similar to those of the Samsung Blade.
Around the sides is a familiar combination of camera, screen lock/unlock and volume/zoom controls, plus a Micro-USB port and that useful 3.5mm headphone socket on the top of the phone.
The slide-out QWERTY keyboard is the real design eye-catcher though. While not exactly novel for a touchscreen phone, it’s still quite rare at this sort of price point.
The sprung slider action is smooth and easy but feels firm in place ready for twin-thumb tapping.
Slipping it out immediately switches the screen orientation from portrait to landscape. The metallic red keypad uses almost the length of the slider tray, so despite minimal gaps between them, the 42 buttons on the keypad have sufficient room.
Keys are slightly contoured to differentiate between them as you’re typing away, and the key action is responsive.
It’s possible for finger tapping messages while resting on a desk, though we expect thumb-typing in-hand will be the favoured input method for most people.
We found the keypad accurate enough for brisk, fluent typing of messages, and generally we had no major gripes about its user-friendliness.
Keys are sensibly arranged and labelled well enough, and the Samsung Genio Slide also contains a couple of keys for quickly opening up new messages or launching the browser.
As with any phone keyboard, it takes a little getting used to if you want to improve your speed.
Initially we didn’t find it quite as comfortable as the larger (and much more expensive) Nokia N97 Mini, for instance and the Samsung text input system occasionally doesn’t feel as intuitive when you’re adding punctuation. But very quickly we got decent thumb-typing speeds up on it.
The Samsung Genio Slide uses a version of the TouchWiz user interface Samsung has rolled out on many of its touchscreen models, which incorporates onscreen widgets for the phone’s home screen.
Brought up onscreen by a tap of the central menu button or one of three onscreen buttons at the foot of the display (marked Keypad, Phonebook and Menu), the main menu system is arranged in familiar grid formation.
Rather than one menu screen, however, there are three main menu screens, with up to 12 icons on each screen representing applications and features (again similar to the Samsung Jet).
Users can slide between screens with a sideways finger stroke, bringing a nicely usable spread of features to hand without having to delve too deeply into sub-menus to find useful apps.
As well as being visually attractive, it’s more intuitive to see key apps laid out like this.
The main menu icons can easily be rearranged to suit how you use the phone, so you can cluster certain applications together if you prefer.
Four buttons remain consistently at the base of the display as you swipe through the main menu – Keypad, Phonebook, Messages and Exit – giving handy access to core functions.
The resistive touchscreen responds well enough to finger action. The user interface allows enough room for fingers to select and scroll without any major mis-pressing issues.
The screen isn’t as slick to the touch as the iPhone 3GS or the HTC Legend or other higher end models, and doesn’t gave the kinetic scrolling feel of such devices, but it isn’t noticeably laggy, and haptic feedback acknowledges presses.
It feels comfortable enough to use without being particularly whizzy. We’d have preferred visible scroll bars in some sub-menu lists (these appear only when you’re scrolling) so that you don’t miss options as you flick through, but otherwise the menu system was straightforward to handle in a functional way.
Users can choose whether to install widgets on the home screen or not. A variety of widgets can be selected from a pop-out toolbar on the side of the display (or bottom if the phone’s held sideways with the keyboard out).
They can be dragged onto the main area of the screen, enabling users to open up and use plenty of applications and services directly from the home screen.
As many widgets as are available can be placed on the home screen – though practically, users will probably limit these to avoid clutter.
Like other Samsung touchscreen phones, the home screen set-up actually comprises three linked home screen pages that can be flicked between using a simple swipe of the finger.
This allows users enough screen space to arrange as many widgets as they fancy without the compact screen looking too busy – and users can choose to arrange home screen widgets under the three pages as effectively separate ‘categories’.
It adds a bit of flexibility, although you can’t copy the same widgets to more than one of the home screen pages at any one time.
Out of the box, there are around 30 application widgets you can bring up onscreen. These range from functional features such as various clocks, calendar, memo and profile functions to music player, Wi-Fi, FM radio and photo viewer controls.
In addition, there’s a range of widgets for online apps. These range from the BBC’s iPlayer service to a host of social network and content sharing services – including Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, Flickr, Photobucket, Picasa, Bebo and so on.
These provide fast access to services for uploading content, managing accounts and updating profiles.
Other online services include an AccuWeather.com weather forecasting app, Bloomberg news, and a More Widgets app to help you find and download additional widgets for free directly from Samsung.
The widget interface is very intuitive and easy to operate.
A tap of the screen opens up the widgets toolbar, from which you can drag and drop any number of widgets with a finger stroke, swap them around in seconds and re-do any time you fancy.
They can provide regular updates on the home screen from social networking sites and enable you to manage accounts and profiles quickly and easily using the native applications.
Other widgets provide access to useful information and shortcuts to activate or control functions (such as music, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth activation) straight from the home screen, potentially reducing finger work for many functions you regularly use.
From the home screen or main menu, it’s simple to make calls either by tapping the onscreen phonebook or keypad buttons, as appropriate, or selecting your recent call log by tapping the Call button beneath the display.
You can dial using the slide-out keyboard too, tapping the top row number buttons in standby.
The phonebook can be browsed with a speed-scrolling tab that enables you to jump through contacts by initial letter, or you can tap in names using the (real or soft) keyboard in a similar way to the LG Intouch Max GW620.
There are multiple fields for contact details in the phonebook which provide for a variety of work and personal information to be added.
Doing the basics of making and taking calls, the Samsung Genio Slide delivers an assured performance, providing good quality audio reception at a consistently high level.
We had no issues or complaints from those receiving calls during our tests. Network reliability on our Vodafone-optimised sample was as good as we needed – it connected when needed without problems.
Naturally, with a sizeable QWERTY keyboard slipping out from the side, messaging ability is one of the key selling points of the Genio Slide.
As mentioned previously, the smooth keyboard action and sensibly sized layout make it a comfortable, accurate and speedy text tapping experience.
Directional arrow keys also aid corrections to text or inserting words rather than having to rely on accurate touchscreen pressing mid-word.
You can type out messages without sliding out the keyboard. Instead, a soft phone-style numberpad appears onscreen, which works pretty efficiently.
Unlike on some longer screen handsets, the number keys don’t spread the full width of the screen – a row of control buttons are on the right of the 3, 6 and 9 keys – but there is still adequate finger space to avoid mis-hitting buttons. We found it easy enough to operate.
Predictive text guesses what you’re typing and presents options to complete words, though you can switch this off if you prefer.
Samsung addresses the correction/word insertion issue for touchscreen phone by using a directional arrow option among the control keys – so users can position the cursor quickly and accurately without requiring pinpoint finger pressing accuracy on the touchscreen.
It’s a decent system – maybe not as quick for speed texters as a regular phone, but it’s good for a touchscreen phone with this 2.8-inch screen size.
Also included are two onscreen handwriting input options, which work reasonably well if not effortlessly smoothly; as usual, a bit of practice helps pin down accuracy.
Email is supported on the phone, although the email wizard on our review sample didn’t provide fully automatic settings installation – we still had to input POP3 and SMTP server details as well as email account name, password and username.
We were also very impressed that Microsoft Exchange, via ActiveSync, was supported on the phone as well; work emails for £120 is a pretty good value offering.
The email user interface is fairly standard issue for a mid-level Samsung touchscreen phone.
It’s no replacement for a BlackBerry and isn’t as sophisticated as some smartphone offerings, but it does enable you to view emails, create your own and manage your account.
Account and messaging options are mainly menu-based though there are onscreen buttons for the basics of operating the messaging system.
Email attachments are supported, with onboard document viewer software enabling you to look at PDFs, Word documents, PowerPoint and Excel documents.
This viewer app also allows documents sideloaded to the phone or slipped in on a memory card to be viewed onscreen (although editing isn’t possible).
The Genio Slide supports instant messaging too, with a Palringo IM software client pre-installed that works with all the major IM services, enabling you to keep contacts all on one list, get updates on status, share content and location information.
The Genio Slide is stocked with a good helping of online applications, with its bundle of social networking applications complemented by some useful additional applications such as BBC iPlayer.
The iPlayer works very tidily over Wi-Fi connections, enabling users to view live TV and listen to radio shows online, and to catch up with radio and TV shows via its streaming service, with decent quality video playback.
The Genio Slide uses Samsung’s Webkit-based Dolfin Browser v1.5, and with both HSDPA 3G connectivity (up to 7.2Mbps) and Wi-Fi onboard, users can enjoy a swift browsing experience.
The touchscreen control button presents an intuitive user interface for a mobile phone browser.
It doesn’t match up to the iPhone in terms of slick usability, but it does better than most browsers of its budget touchscreen class, and it does support Flash Lite.
Occasionally, however, we did get ‘memory full’ messages when loading larger webpages – irritating and harking back to the earlier, darker days of touchscreen phones when breathing on the device would send it into a RAM-crushing frenzy.
Its controls include an address bar, forward and back buttons plus reload and bookmark buttons, while you can scroll with a finger movement or zoom in and out with a long finger press onscreen, then moving up or down.
It’s not pinch-to-zoom smooth but does the job in an unfussy way. As you’d expect, the browser can be viewed in full landscape mode too, plus there’s an RSS reader function in the software (accessible by the menu).
The Samsung Genio Slide’s 3.2-megapixel camera has a very user-friendly touchscreen user interface – consistent with Samsung’s higher-grade cameraphones – but its fixed focus shooter is a middle of the range shooter in terms of overall image quality.
The camera takes only a couple of seconds to fire up from standby, with a press of the side-mounted camera button. The camera automatically switches into landscape view, with eight control icons dotted either side of the display.
The camera has a reasonable set of function options for this grade of snapper – it incorporates functions such as a Smile Shot (when engaged it waits to spot a smile before the snap is taken), multi-shot shooting, and a rather neat motion sensor accelerometer-aided panorama shooting mode that stitches together shots with barely any effort from the user.
A bunch of modes are available for different kinds of lighting environments or shooting situations including a night mode and sports mode for fast moving objects.
Timer and brightness controls are included, plus regular settings adjustments for white balance and a series of colour-tint effects.
You can use image editing software to tweak snaps and add post-shooting effects, text, captions, clip art and so on, with easy to use onscreen tools
OUTDOORS: The Samsung Genio Slide has a fixed focus 3.2-megapixel camera that offers a decent user interface but limited shooting performance. Images are reasonable for this sort of camera but detail and quality are limited
TONES: Colour reproduction is rich for snaps, and it handles tones reasonably well, though the shot appears slightly soft
NATURAL LIGHT: Again, it produces colourful snaps with a decent tonal range, but it is somewhat soft where you may be expecting crisper detail
CLOUDY DAY: It takes reasonable shots in murky conditions, dealing effectively with changing contrast and lighting conditions
FOLIAGE: The lack of focus control means you have to shoot and hope when it comes to getting objects in focus. Here, the colours look acceptably vivid, but it’s not capable of selecting the foreground branches to be in focus
OVERCAST: Taken in subdued overcast conditions, colours look fine, though there is a bit of burn out of the trees against the sky in the background
ARTIFICIAL LIGHT: Without any sort of flash or LED illumination shots taken inside in artificial light are soft and unsatisfactory
LOW LIGHT: In darker conditions, like this shot in the early evening, the camera is unable to produce more than a basic low quality shooting performance with grainy images
PANORAMA: The panorama shooting mode works really well – using the automatic motion sensor inside, the camera can quickly match up frames and stitch them together for easy panoramas. You can’t get full the highest quality images in this mode, however
SPORTS MODE: There is a sports mode for capturing moving subjects
As is common on mid-tier Samsungs, it’s also possible to upload images straight to online services and social networking sites – all you have to do is select which you want from a pre-defined list of services.
With a 3.2-megapixel camera with a fixed focus lens, you can’t expect superb shooting results, but for this grade of cameraphone, the Genio Slide puts in a respectable performance.
Of course, with no focus control you can’t get beautifully focused compositions, but the camera is able to take decent snaps with naturally rich colour rendition, competent automatic handling of exposure and contrast plus a reasonable level of detail for this sort of camera.
With no flash or photo light of any description, however, low light shooting isn’t great, and in dark environments results are poor.
The Genio Slide can also capture video, although shooting at maximum QVGA quality (320×240 pixels) at 15 frames per second, it is limited in terms of playback quality. It’ll do for online uploads perhaps, but it’s pretty lacklustre low-grade phone level.
Video playback on the Samsung Genio Slide’s large screen is acceptable. Of course, anyone who wants a richer media experience may prefer a larger, higher-grade touchscreen model, but it does an adequate job within its 2.8-inch QVGA limitations.
It supports H.263, MPEG4, WMV, WAV and DivX file formats, and the media player user interface is very straightforward and simple to work.
The BBC iPlayer application provides a pleasing entertainment extra too. It delivers radio and TV programmes from the BBC’s excellent online service direct to the handset via Wi-Fi (although sadly nothing from 3G).
Streamed content from the online iPlayer service looks pretty good on the screen, although the Genio Slide’s screen ratio means the playback is slightly letterboxed.
However, it’s another useful source of free online entertainment for Genio Slide buyers. Its user interface is simple to follow and operate, while a Widget option for the home screen allows you to access it quickly from standby.
The music player’s controls are uncomplicated too. It supports MP3, AAC, AAC+ and WMA formats, and tracks can be downloaded over the air or sideloaded onto the phone, using supplied Samsung Kies software or synced with Windows Media Player on a PC using the in-box data cable.
Alternatively, you can load tracks straight on to a MicroSD card and slip it in – the music player software automatically adds tunes to its list of tracks.
The 2GB MicroSD card supplied with the handset is particularly welcome, boosting the phone’s 100MB of onboard storage.
MicroSDs of up to 16GB can be used with the handset. Bluetooth is also supported and can be used to transfer tracks.
The music player doesn’t do anything particularly novel or eye-catching. Its UI is simple but is functional and works efficiently enough. Tracks are listed in familiar categories and the control includes large touch buttons plus a draggable timeline and cover art support for easy choon navigation.
As with the Genio QWERTY and Genio Touch, Samsung has included a 3.5mm standard headphone socket on top of the phone, so users can easily plug in their own headphones if they want to upgrade the supplied earwear.
Samsung has boxed a decent quality in-ear set of earphones with the Genio Slide, however, so you can get a very acceptable performance out of the box.
Through the in-box ear-wear – which comes as a two-piece headset with snug fitting plastic earbuds – audio quality is pretty good, with a well-balanced range with good mid and high frequencies plus a substantial bass presence giving a decently rounded sound with plenty of dynamism.
The phone also comes with a built in FM radio function; again it delivers a solid performance and is easy to tune and operate with an easy to follow touch user interface.
It can also record sound clips from the radio as files you can listen back to later. A song identification application is also included which will sample tracks you hear on the radio and deliver details over the air back to the phone.
This Find Music application can also be used with songs you hear around you, with the app slotted into one of the Main Menu screens.
We got a decent battery performance out of the Genio Slide. It has plenty of functionality inside that can sap battery power, but it delivered an acceptable amount of juice during our tests.
The 960mAh battery back is expected by Samsung to deliver up to 390 hours of standby time on 3G networks (or 560 hours in GSM-only coverage), or up to 230 minutes of talktime on 3G (490 minutes on GSM-only networks).
We managed 2-3 days between charges with minimal Wi-Fi usage, though with more online activity we did find ourselves charging more frequently; how exactly you use the phone will determine what mileage you get before a refill is required.
However, the Samsung Genio Slide outperformed much more expensive smartphones with nearly 40% larger batteries, so on that aspect alone it can’t be faulted.
The Samsung Genio Slide packs a standard set of organiser tools for a Samsung mid-tier model.
These include calendar, memo, voice recorder, task, calculator, convertor, world clock, calculator and world clock functions.
There aren’t many gimmicky elements to the organiser tools; they’re generally functional and work effectively with the touchscreen interface, without much graphical eye-candy to distract.
The Samsung Genio Slide is a dual-band (900/2100 MHz) 3G handset, utilising HSDPA mobile data connectivity boasting data download of up to 7.2Mbps (although average real life speeds are always lower on any phone).
Operating outside of 3G coverage, the phone is a quad-band GSM model (850/900/1800/1900 MHz), supporting lower speed EDGE and GPRS data connectivity.
Higher speed 3G data connectivity may make the Genio Slide a much more attractive proposition than the Genio QWERTY or Genio Touch for those that want to use its online-focused services.
But the addition of Wi-Fi really seals the deal on that score, providing high speed connectivity on home Wi-Fi networks, on office WLANs or via public Wi-Fi hotspots.
It makes it a more versatile device than others in the Genio range, and can deliver a far more satisfactory experience and better services than those handsets.
Bluetooth 2.1, featuring wireless stereo streaming A2DP for wireless headphones, speakers, etc., is included.
The phone also supports USB 2.0 connectivity, using a microUSB port multi-connector socket and there’s a USB data cable packaged in-box.
Exchange ActiveSync is supported for over the air syncing of contacts, calendar events, email, and tasks with a remote Microsoft Exchange server.
Samsung Kies software suite is supplied on CD, enabling back up and transfer of personal information management data with a Windows PC plus content management and sharing of content. Over the air online backup using ActiveSync is supported too.
For the price, Samsung Genio Slide users get a very attractive set of features. Among these is A-GPS satellite positioning technology built in.
Google Maps v3.0.2 is pre-loaded as part of a suite of Google services which include Google Search and Google Mail applications.
Google Maps provides the usual mapping information, over the air route planning and navigation, plus search options for local information on businesses and services.
The software works effectively with the touchscreen interface and is intuitive to operate, while the A-GPS works smartly enough at locating positions.
It’s an extremely useful app to have to hand, and you can get Street View and opt into Google Latitude from the handset.
In addition, if you get a Vodafone-branded Genio Slide, it comes with Telmap application pre-loaded that enables you to get online Sat Nav capability on the handset. Unfortunately our review sample wasn’t recognised so we couldn’t trial it.
In addition to the BBC iPlayer software mentioned previously, the Genio Slide’s array of native social networking services mention earlier give this device plenty of appeal for its target audience looking for a touchscreen experience on a budget.
Other features include a raft of control options familiar to mid-tier Samsung handsets, including etiquette pause (you turn over the phone and the current sound of an incoming call alert or alarm is muted) and its quirky Fake Call feature (at the press of a button you can initiate a fake incoming call with a recorded message).
Samsung’s Smart Unlock system, which uses pre-defined character strokes onscreen to unlock the display or launch specific features, is included too, while a batch of games – mostly trial versions – are pre-loaded.
The Samsung Genio Slide is the most attractive of Samsung’s Genio clan to date, packed with the sort of features you wouldn’t normally expect of a phone at this price.
With 3G HSDPA and Wi-Fi, its collection of social networking options are decent enough to use. A-GPS is a welcome bonus, while its entertainment options – including a fine-sounding music player and native BBC iPlayer application – add to the appeal.
You also get a fair amount of in-box memory card storage and good earphones as standard.
The slide-out QWERTY keyboard has a finger-friendly action that’s good enough for a device of this sort, while this touchscreen phone package is compact enough to carry around without overloading your pocket.
Sure, its resistive touchscreen won’t give you the enjoyably slick finger-flicking pleasures of an iPhone or other capacitive screen-equipped high-enders.
The control set-up is more functional than flash, although there are some useful touches like the TouchWiz home screen widgets.
At this sort of price point, though, the Genio Slide offers a terrific amount of functionality.
The amount of features you get for your money makes the Genio Slide stand out. The slide-out QWERTY keyboard combined with the touchscreen control are the immediate headline grabbers, and we were pretty happy with the keyboard action.
But high-speed connectivity using Wi-Fi or HSDPA and the addition of A-GPS give this handset a significant edge over it range mates and other rivals in the price bracket.
The online functionality of the handset – including a reasonable touchscreen browser, Google Maps, a crop of social networking apps and an easy to use BBC iPlayer app – provide the phone with plenty to entertain.
It also sports a pleasing music player (and a 3.5mm headphone jack socket!), and comes with a 2GB memory card in-box… and let’s not forget you can swap back panels if customisation is your thing.
It would have been good to have had a capacitive multi-touchscreen, but you can’t get everything at this sort of price point.
The 2.8-inch screen isn’t the biggest either. The dimensions affect some control elements, such as the space available for widgets and the text numberpad layout– although the QWERTY keyboard deals with the latter issue.
Generally, though, there was a reasonable amount of space to work fingers onscreen.
We occasionally found the multi-screen home screen swiping trying, as we attempted to avoid dabbing widgets as we stroked our way through the busy screens.
We’d have preferred a better email wizard for automatic settings installation, too, on a messaging-centric device.
The 3.2-megapixel camera has a decent interface, but image results were limited by its fixed focus lens and lack of additional flash illumination.
Although we found the browser easy to operate, it felt underpowered sometimes when rendering large rich pages.
Pitched at the youth market, the Samsung Genio Slide certainly delivers a terrific feature package for a low-cost touchscreen handset, with a roll-call of functionality you’d expect of a higher-end model.
It’s miles cheaper than the similarly-specified LG Intouch Max GW620 Android phone, and manages to offer similar functionality in most places.
Its slide out QWERTY keypad and social apps mark it out as a messaging and social networking heavy-hitter but it also delivers plenty of entertainment and loads of useful gadgetry for your bucks.