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E730 p2

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Interface & Features: 5.5
Now this is the part where the phone kinda takes a huge dive. Most phone manufacturers do their best to minimize the number of button taps for you to press when performing the phone's function ... right? Samsung kinda had that in mind, but greatly relied on their "numbered" menu formula w/c IMO isn't always that helpful.
First thing's first, my firmware version is E730DXI1 w/c seems to be higher than most of the firmware versions that were used on some review websites I've checked out before. You can check your version by typing this on the main screen: *#1234#
Now for the good (and the bad) stuff... On the main screen you'll find the "menu" (for the upper left button) and "contacts" (for the upper right button). That menu kinda reminded me of Nokia but .. behold .. pressing the "ok/i" button will open the GPRS browser. Now that reminded me of my previous SE K700i w/c has a dedicated "online" button, that at least have 'proper' labeling, Samsung's "i" that stands for "Internet" IMO is not. I just can't tell you guys how many people who checked out my phone accidentally went online (w/c bdway in my case eats up money). I know its not rocket science since the "menu" is not sitting on top of the "ok/i" button, but moving the internet button to a different location would have been a better idea.
Call/Voice quality is very clear even while using the speaker phone. Its only effective if the phone is only around 2 feet away from your mouth. Place the phone any further away than the said distance will cause you to shout a bit to the phone so the other party will be able to hear you clearly. The packaged headset works well, no need to hold the receiver near your mouth like with other cellphone headsets. Recording of conversations is not an option, since multi-tasking is a pretty weak point of this phone as you'll later discover with its audio player.

Once you're in the main menu, you'll be greeted with 9 icons. Having limited number of icons on the main menu means more browsing on sub-menus .. right? This is sadly the case with this phone. Although the sub-menu's are properly labeled with a number beside them for easy access, they could have made it a lot more easier by adding up more icons on the main menu.
The phonebook will at first look like any other phonebook wherein you can add multiple phone numbers (home, office, work, fax, etc), add an email address, a specific ringtone, caller ID picture, group, and additional notes. But try editing an entry, you'll be surprised to find out that there's no direct option to edit the info. You first have to open up the entry, before you'll be able to select the option to edit via the menu. You also cannot append to an already existing phonebook entry if you type in a number on the screen and use the "save" option. Even if you input an already existing name and last name, you will just end up having an identical phonebook entry. Another bummer for some folks is that this phone does not support voice dialling. Although I personally don't use this feature, some folks who does might find this as a huge turn off.
One thing that might be interesting for some folks is that there are a couple of pre-installed icons (or drawings) for caller ID's and groups. They look pretty cheap IMO though. For me its better to set a blank picture and have a 3d looking handset appear rather than have a picture pop-up that looks like it was drawn by a 3yr old.
Call Records is basically a summary (or categorized list) of all your outgoing, incoming, missed, and cancelled calls.
**Possible bug: I've read numerous reports with other Samsung phones (ex: D600) that there are times wherein the call lists will display outgoing calls or numbers that they do not know of. I myself saw a phone number that I can't remember dialling. Its not saved in my phonebook either. The only possible reasons I could think of is that I might already deleted the entry or its the Samsung phonebook bug that caused the issue.
Applications: This is where the common mobile phone tools are located. Here we have the MP3 player, Voice Recorder, Java, FM Radio, World Time, Alarm, Calculator, Converter (length, weight, volume, area, temp), Timer, Stopwatch, and Sim Tools.
**Calculator bug/limitation: entering this: x*.x will result to a "syntax error". The phone will only allow this format to be used: .x*x
**Bug: trying to set an alarm while vibra-mode is enabled will automatically ask the user if you want to enable sound in silent mode. Selecting yes will grant access to the alarm options. But once the phone hits the time for the alarm to go off, it will not play music, but rather vibrate. If you think that should have been the default setting for selecting "no" (w/c should have been in the first place) when asked if you want to enable sound in silent mode, think again, because selecting "no" is like telling the phone that you do not want to set an alarm because it will just boot you back to the main alarm menu.
The Audio Player works pretty much as the external one but here you can use the arrow keys to play, pause, stop etc. You can also create a playlist, the sad part is, you can only create one. As for the visualization, you have 2 options here, along with 4 colors to choose from (orange, green, blue, and purple). There's a repeat and shuffle options as well. Just when everything is starting to sound great for this feature, there is yet another down-side. You cannot minimize or perform other things while the audio player is open. You will be forced to close the player if you want to do some other things. Multi-tasking while listening to audio is not possible with this phone. As for the all important sound quality, well as usual I'm aware its subjective. Personally I think its better than most phones though. The integrated speakers can produce MP4 audio format up to 48kbps. Any bitrate higher than that IMO is a waste of memory space unless of course you can notice the difference. Take note however that this is a mono speaker, playing stereo audio will cause you to miss one of the 2 channels. Playback while the phone is open produces a slightly louder sound compared to when its closed. The bass is a bit more noticeable when the phone is closed though.
The rest are the basic stuff like the voice recorder wherein you can record up to a max of 1hr. An alarm wherein you can have 3 separate entries with a the option to snooze. While the rest are self-explanatory.
Messages: creating SMS w/c is the most used feature of cellphones here in our country is a bit of a pain. You cannot use the down arrow key to move the cursor down. You can do that by accessing the "symbol" function, scroll down the list for an "enter" function, and press the "ok" button. Why did they opt for that approach instead of just letting us press the down arrow key is beyond me. You can however freely use the up/down keys if there are already existing text's on the upper/lower part where you're typing. The starting letter for your 2nd (up to the last) sentence will not be automatically capitalized unless you tap on the "*" key once every after sentence. As for the characters that are not available by tapping on "1" numerous times, you can access a numbered "symbol" list. IMO having the characters numbered is easier than tapping on the arrow keys to select your option. This is one of the few cases wherein Samsung's numbered menu/list pays off.
As for editing what you already typed in, everything is a breeze unless you just need to delete a sentence because holding the "C" button down clears the entire screen instead of just the words one by one. And its a pain to tap the clear button numerous times just to delete a short sentence.
The phone supports animations but its way too cartoony when compared to SE's. The animations looks more like a dressed stick people. You actually need a few days to get used to them because you'll often times find yourself trying to search for the description of a said animation because it looks pretty ugly. Smileys are not supported here w/c is pretty odd because most phones that support animations already have support for smileys. Not a real biggie though.
When you're ready to send the message, you will have numerous "to" (or send to) boxes waiting for you to enter a phone number. Of course most of us will go ahead and access the phonebook or the recently used number right? With this phone, you actually have to access the menu, select the "recent recipient" menu, and put a check mark beside the recent recipients box w/c oddly default on an "all" box instead of highligting the most recent recipients name. The chance of using the "all" option is very slim. That is what "user groups" are for right? Well if you try to access the user group, non of the users inside the group is selected by default. You have to painfully put a check mark one-by-one on their boxes ... and no, there's no option to select them all. But oh, when you're sending a message, the progress per user is seperated from the overall progress for all users w/c IMO is pretty neat.
There's however some neat features here, one of w/c is the phones capability to block 10 phone numbers w/c will delete automatically the SMS for you. Pretty useful for folks that are sick of spam from some of their friends etc. You can also "protect" your messages (same goes with your files) to prevent accidental deletion. The only problem with that feature though is that there's no option to protect multiple files. So if you want to protect 30 messages or files, well ... you have to put aside a good few minutes of your time for the said operation. Take note however that ringtones and wallpapers gets "protected" automatically.
Bug: closing the lid while the "message sent" message is displayed will cause the phone to save the message inside the "Draft" folder. The only fix is to either wait for the message to close or cancel out of the message by pressing the "c" or "end call" button before closing the flip.
File Manager is another tumble for this phone IMO. You are limited only to the number of folders the phone has given you (no option to create a folder). You have the default folder where all your captured photos/videos will be placed at. A "downloaded" video for transferred files. And an extra "favourite" folder where you can transfer ... well, your fave files. All those apply to the photo, video, and sounds folder. The "music" (for music files) folder doesn't have any sub-directory. Categorizing or organizing your files with limited folders is pretty tough.
Here you can view the pictures, videos, and sounds/music. Another sad part in this section is the fact that you cannot view anything in full screen mode. That feature IMO is a must for a phone with a small screen. There is a "slideshow" option for pictures but it seems like it will only be available on pictures that were taken by the phone. Same goes with the picture zoom option (pressing the volume + key).
The phone has 92mb of memory capacity with no option for expansion. The said amount IMO is enough for typical users like me. It would have helped though if all of the extra stuff that Samsung added on the phone can be deleted since some doesn't have that option or is hidden from the user (eg: alarm tones and MMS templates).
Bug 1: there are times that you'll get a "not supported content" error message when trying to set a downloaded picture to become your main display wallpaper and its saved inside the favourites folder. Transferring the file back to the "downloaded" folder, then setting it as your wallpaper, and transferring it back inside the favourites folder will oddly enough fix the issue.
Bug 2: try and delete your current generic ringtone (non group or caller specific) and your wallpaper will automatically switch to the default (brown dog) wallpaper.
Bug 3: if you take a picture at 1280x1024 and set it as the main display wallpaper while inside the "photos" folder, the phone will automatically zoom it the picture. You will end up with a zoomed fullscreen version of the picture. But try moving the picture inside the "favourites" folder, you will end up having the full picture centered on your screen.
Possible bug: some pictures taken by SE K700i (in panorama mode) and W800i will not be opened up by the phone. It will just give you a picture icon with a butterfly on the middle and the "not supported content" error if you try and open the file. This could however just be an incompatibility or phone limitation rather than a bug because I've noticed that even large GIF files (400kb and up) displays the same issue.
**non of these were mentioned or explained on the instructions manual
The Calendar enables you to set events (etc) on a given date. You will be given a heads-up for those specified events and an icon for every missed events. Typical stuff that are bundled with most phones.

Check out the spotlight reflections. Purple issue galore there!

The Camera section enables you to take pics and vids that only limits you depending on the amount of memory the phone has left. The camera has spot focus w/c helps increasing the picture quality up a bit. You have a couple of other options like fullscreen viewer, shutter sound enable/disable, compression settings wherein superfine being the highest option etc. At max settings the quality is pretty good. Given the right lighting conditions, some might mistake the quality from being one of those taken by a point-and-shoot type digicam. Most photos will look excellent when viewed or used as a wallpaper for the phone. There are still the usual problems with CMOS camera's though like the purple fringing on bright areas (often times only seen when viewed on a computer monitor). Skin tone turns a bit greenish on a highly lit or outdoor setting w/c could be a bit irritating especially if it ruins what should have been a good looking photo. The perfect lighting condition with this phone based from my experience is either an outdoor shot or a well fluorescent lighted environment. Moving objects or an unsteady hand can cause blurring on the photo w/c is expected since this is afterall still just a camera phone. Noise on low lighting conditions is surprisingly low with this phone though w/c is a big plus because this is one of the main weakness of a CMOS equipped camera.

Balanced lighting vs Overly lit setting

Result: Perfect (left)/ Greenish (right) Skintone

Same cannot be said however for the video quality because it demands more ambient light. Looks fine with minimal pixelation (when viewed on the phone) for high lit areas though. The video also has the option for the phone to automatically stop filming after approx 30secs for MMS sized videos.
There are some minor cool stuff that you can do after taking some photos. You can add effects, borders (w/c automatically reduces the picture size to 176x144), etc. You however do not have even the basic option to rotate the picture.
As for the Settings section, most of the stuff seen here resembles those that can be found with typical handsets so I will not go into full details and just mention those that are worth taking note of:
**Bug: generic ringtone will automatically switch to a caller specific ringtone after a given caller gives you around 3 consecutive calls. It was bugging me for a while because even if you try to switch it back to your preferred generic ringtone, and try going back immediately to the ringtone menu after saving it, you'll discover that the tone just switched back again to whatever caller specific ringtone (who just recently called you up) you have set. Turning the phone off-on fixes the problem ... temporarily. Same thing happens when you use a group-specific ringtone.
This phone allows you to enable a feature called "voice clarity" w/c is said to enhance the sensitivity of the mic when making calls. This doesn't give any improvement with my experience though.
You can change the position and color of the operator logo. As well as completely remove it if you find it too intrusive.
There are only 4 skin colors to choose from w/c is a joke when compared to other phones, or phones with a software that enables you to change the color of the theme down to the text shadows (ex: Sony-Ericsson). This phone however comes bundled with a software for editing or creating a theme. Weirdly enough, that software doesn't allow you to create full screen wallpapers. All it does is give you options for borders and picture effects. Pretty useful for some folks, but you'll probably better off editing one yourself so you can have a fullscreen wallpaper. Alternatively, you can download fullscreen animated wallpapers (or screensavers) on some websites. One of my main gripes here is that the clock cannot be moved to a different location and is eating up the top 45 (or so) pixels of the screen. If you have a picture of yourself in fullscreen, chances are, the clock will be positioned right on top of your face. That's probably the reason why the Samsung's software itself doesn't give you the option to create a wallpaper in fullscreen.
Bluetooth works very well with my dongle and with my friends Nokia and SE phones. You can select multiple files for easier file transfer. You also have the option to hide some of your files if you dont' want those folks who are authorized to browse your folders to download your private stuff.
There are a couple of "folder tones" to select from. What are folder tones you say? Well, this phone gives you the option of playing a sound when you open and/or close the flip. I personally like the idea but I keep it set on a low volume so as not to make it look like I'm trying to get people's attention when I want to use my phone.
There's a "privacy" feature that allow you to add a password for one or all of the ff folders: messages, music, photos, videos, and sounds. Pretty neat stuff!
The phone sadly (how many times have I already said that?) doesn't support profile creation. On top of that, the phone doesn't give you the option to set the ringtone and vibrate at the same time. The best it gives you is for the phone to vibrate first, then play the ringtone afterwads. This is unacceptable IMO with newer phones.
There are 5 levels of backlight strength. Highest level is pretty useful if you're outdoors but eats up the battery faster than the other levels.
Speaking of battery life, this phone usually last for only a day and a half, to maybe a max of 2 with regular use. Regular use meaning ... more or less an hour of call, quite a number SMS's, and few audio playback. The phone doesn't have an accurate battery level indicator though. The bars has only 3 divisions but it seems like the full charge indicator (all 3 bars displayed) signify the 60% of the charge. While the remaining 2 indicates that you only have 20% and 15% charge left respectively. Having an empty batt indicator indicates that you only have approx 5% of the charge left and the phone will start shutting down some of its features. At this state you can no longer watch videos or listen to music. The backlight will be disabled as well. As good as this sounds, the phone will bug you every 2mins with a "low battery" indicator that also flashes on the external screen. Doing this pretty much kills their "battery conservation" plan because turning on the ext display every 2mins doesn't translate really help conserve the battery charge.
Charging time takes approx an hour and 45mins. The phone's main LCD doesn't shut off while its being charged (backlight does go out though). The phone doesn't give you an idea on how much long it will take for the phone to fully charge unless you turn the phone off. The battery drawing serves as a progress bar indicator when the phone is off. The battery heats up a lot while charging which extends up to the number pad and heats up even the upper portion of the LCD (when closed). And since this one is equipped with a Li-Ion battery, you do not need to prime charge or completely drain the battery before using/charging. That only applies to Nimh or older battery models.
Signal strength bdway is slightly (but noticeably) better when compared to phones like SE.

Overall / Value: 7.25
The phone is good overall IMO. The features and user-friendliness however killed the phones potential and value. It's still a very good all around phone but I cannot easily recommend this phone to anyone. It will greatly depend on how you will use the phone. This will probably serve as a good phone for professionals who perform calls most of the time and are not bothered by the phones lack of customization options. Fashion conscious peeps will not be disappointed as well because its one of the strong points of this phone. If not for that, and the fact that I know I cannot fully give Samsung the full beating for the bugs that I discovered because that's what firmware updates are for (although this is the very first time I have seen so many bugs on a single phone ... more bugs that my previous 5 phones combined!!!), this phone might have ended up with an overall score of 7 or lower. I still might consider purchasing another Samsung in the future, if, and only if they will be able to address the problems that I have with this phone. The likehood of me purchasing another one right now due to this experience with this phone is pretty dim at best.
Last Updated: 072806 (added 3 new bugs ... can you believe it?!!)
Adjusted overall rating from 8 down to 7.25
=closed to future updates=

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