'Anything you can do, I can do better' -- a fitting expression for the relationship between Samsung and LG, particularly when it comes to mobile phones. Last year, we saw LG team up with Prada to create the Prada KE850 phone and this year it's Samsung's turn to walk the catwalk with the Samsung Armani phone.
It's currently available from Orange for £50 on a monthly contract and free with a monthly contract from phones4u.
It's always worrying when fashion houses team up with mobile manufacturers as the results can be quite disturbing. As we gently popped open the Samsung Armani's posh box, we breathed a sigh of relief upon seeing the Armani phone -- it's small, attractive and most importantly, it doesn't look tacky.
The Armani phone feels solid and definitely looks the part. On the front, there's a relatively large touchscreen with mechanical end and send keys at the bottom. The casing is made out of metal, which adds to the solid feel and it's weighted just right -- not to heavy and not too light.
Using the Armani's touchscreen is a relatively enjoyable experience because it's easy enough to navigate. Plus, it features vibrating feedback that lets you know when you've tapped an on-screen key, which seems to work better than certain other phones with a similar feature.
Our only issue with the Armani's screen is that scrolling is very fiddly. Scrolling through contacts or a Web site should be easy to do, which is why we're bothered that it's not. If you're expecting a touchscreen that responds to touch control as well as the iPhone, you'll be very disappointed. A combination of the hardware and software lets the phone down and we're not convinced that Samsung have cracked touchscreen phones just yet.
Turn it on and you're presented with the Croix user interface that's also found on the Samsung F700. It's an attractive UI but it lacks depth and doesn't allow you to do many of things you can do on certain other Samsung phones, such as install Java apps like Google Maps and Opera Mini.
Fashion phones don't always have to be under-featured but this one is. While you do get a 3-megapixel camera with LED photo light, an MP3 player, an Internet browser and EDGE (2.75G), that's about it in terms of headline features. We're disappointed given the association with a fancy fashion brand.
Even the features that it did have didn't leave us very impressed. The Internet browser, for example, felt clunky to use due to the poor navigation options. Not having the best features might not be a problem for everyone, though, especially if you're just looking for an attractive phone that fits in your pocket.
Audio quality during calls was loud and clear without any noticeable distortion or mumbling. The loudspeaker worked well. Audio quality from the music player is sufficient but because you can't use your own headphones, we really didn't like using it that much -- the proprietary headphones don't give out a great sound.
Picture quality from the 3-megapixel camera was good for MMS messages and small prints but when we viewed pictures at a larger size they seemed blurry. Pictures in low light didn't come out well because the LED photo light will not illuminate your area of focus that well, especially compared to phones with xenon flashes.
Battery life was good, lasting for over two days before needing to be recharged. It's quoted at 220 hours on standby and 6 hours talk time.
If you're looking to squeeze an attractive phone into your skinny jeans, the Samsung Armani fits the bill. It's sturdy enough that you won't need to worry about it snapping it in half when you sit down. If you're looking for a super phone that does it all and lets you easily access the Internet on the fly, then we don't recommend buying the Armani phone.
Edited by Jason Jenkins
Additional editing by Shannon Doubleday