A quick review of the Samsung Star phone

Summary: could have used a little more testing

As I wrote earlier, I bought me a Samsung s5230 Star mobile phone. My needs were extremely modest:

  • A long standby time
  • A built-in camera of at least 1 megapixel

The Star’s aspirations are far from modest: it tries to emulate far more expensive phones by providing a similar but toned down feature set. So it’s got a medium sized touch screen, a photo and video camera, a media player, an organiser, FM radio, voice recorder and widgets galore.

When you have got to cut costs, you had better come up with clever solutions, and the Star has some of those. Rather than putting in a second camera so that you can see yourself when taking a picture of yourself, it’s got a tiny mirror underneath the lens of its single camera. That sort of stuff.

Unfortunately the Star has too little of that sort of stuff, and lacks polish in general. It has an untested feel. For instance, the lock (activated by pressing a handy little button on the side of the phone that doubles as a camera lock) sometimes switches off spontaneously.

Also, the screen is completely useless outdoors. When I tried to make a call when it was overcast, I could barely see what I dialed. When I tried to look at the time during sunset (nice big clock), I could see nothing at all. I would hate to think what would happen in full sunlight at noon. Presumably the entire phone will render itself invisible.

I already expressed my satisfaction with the camera in a previous post, but to spare you the trouble of clicking a link I will repeat what I said: I love it because it is such a limited camera. That means that whenever I take a good picture it is all because of my skills, baby!

Does the battery last 800 hours on a single charge, as advertised? I would not know. I have been playing the free games that came shipped with the Star a lot lately (mostly while waiting for trains), and they drain the battery like you wouldn’t believe.

Finally, an anecdote. The other day a friend who owns one of these iPhones or HTC Android shiny wonder thingies lamented that he thought his T9 (word prediction) was unusable, because switching between languages was so hard. Ha! Not only will Samsung’s T9 implementation let you switch between languages easily, but it will let you do this while you are typing your message. Just tap the language symbol and switch languages on the fly and to your hearts content.

I don’t know how common any of these features are, but they are light years ahead of what my previous phone offered.

If you make 99.5% of your calls indoors, this phone comes mostly recommended. But do check other reviews to see if it meets your needs.

My rating: 2.5 stars
**1/2

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