You don't have to be a Genio to work out who Samsung's new touchscreen phone is aimed at. Bright colours, interchangeable back covers and built-in Facebook support are all dead giveaways that the Genio Touch is intended for the younger generation. It's also cheap. You can pick one up for free on a £20-per-month contract, £100 on a pay-as-you-go deal, and £130 SIM-free.
Young at heart
The Touch is small for a touchscreen phone and pretty light too. The interchangeable back cover may seem like a gimmick, but it actually has a fairly major impact on the look of the device. A slick white back cover gives it a more grown-up, Apple-type feel, whereas a bright orange or pink cover with a swirly pattern makes a more rambunctious statement.
The Touch is comfortable to hold, and hard to fault in terms of build quality, with only a couple of tiny niggles spoiling an otherwise well-engineered handset. The microSD card slot, for example, is underneath the back cover. Unlike some phones, however, the slot isn't hidden beneath the battery, so it's not too difficult to get at, particularly since the clip-on cover is so easy to remove.
The interface has also been designed well. There are three different home screens and a pop-up sidebar that hosts a selection of widgets, for easy access to your favourite applications -- Facebook, YouTube and Twitter all come pre-loaded. The handset also gives vibrating feedback with every finger swipe or button press, which is a pleasing touch. A clever 'smart unlock' feature allows you to use your own personalised finger gesture to access the phone's home screen or launch apps when it's locked.
All the usual tools can be found in the main menu, such as a calendar, file browser and so on. We particularly like the visual 'photo contacts' phone book. Add all of its features up and you have a handset that's beginning to look rather like a smart phone.
The Touch isn't quite as slick, however, when it comes to actual operation. We found the touchscreen somewhat less responsive than those of other devices of this type, and it can be frustrating to use. Scrolling through a list of options can often result in one of the choices being selected accidentally, for example.
Worst of all is that the Touch doesn't have an on-screen Qwerty keyboard. Any texts, instant messages, Facebook updates or tweets need to be typed the old-fashioned way, using an on-screen number pad. The Touch's 71mm (2.8-inch) display is smaller than those on some other touchscreen handsets, but it seems like it wouldn't have been too difficult to implement a Qwerty keyboard nevertheless.
It's also a shame that the Touch has no 3G or Wi-Fi support. A couple of years ago, this probably would have been fine, but it seems strange in this day and age that a handset with so many online and social-networking features has to rely on Edge-only data access.
The 2-megapixel camera is also something of a letdown. As well as having a low resolution, the camera has no flash, and indoor shots look very grainy. Video recording is possible but, again, the quality isn't up to much.
On the other hand, the Touch's media-playback capability is fairly good. Add up to 8GB of microSD storage, and you have yourself a pretty decent portable music and movie player. Sound quality is better than average, although the headphones provided aren't especially great, and you'll need to use an adaptor if you want to listen to music through your own cans. You can create playlists on the go or, if you invest in the optional data cable, synchronise the device with Windows Media Player. An FM radio is also available.
The Samsung Genio Touch is a mixed bag. With a slender, attractive design and solid set of media-playback features, it's let down by some frustrating usability issues and its lack of 3G and Wi-Fi support. But, in terms of budget handsets, the Touch is certainly one of the smarter phones out there.
Edited by Charles Kloet