There's no doubt that handsets like Nokia's 6500 Classic and Sony Ericsson's W880i have proved immensely popular. Samsung is looking to tackle these handsets head-on with the U800 and at first glance, it seems like a seriously stylish attempt. You can pick it up for free on a £30 contract with O2 or it'll set you back around £140 as a pay as you go.
Samsung has produced some great-looking phones in the past and the U800 is right up there with the best of them. These days the company may be best know for its slider phones, but this one shows that it can turn out a sleek candybar phone in the mould of Nokia's 6500 Classic when it puts its mind to it. Certainly the U800's metallic finish gives it a distinct air of class and we love the both phone's slim lines and its weighty feel.
Samsung has decked it out with an etched metal keypad similar to the ones found on Motorola's Razr handsets. We're not always keen on these, but the one used here feels very responsive, and as the keys are quite large it's very easy to use for texting.
The phone is built around Samsung's usual grid-based menu system, which is pretty easy to navigate. A neat touch is the way it highlights the last used menu item every time you open up the main menu screen.
As well as supporting HSDPA for fast downloads at speeds of up to 3.6Mbps, the U800 also has dual cameras so you can use it for video calling. The camera on the back is the main snapper and has a 3-megapixel resolution. It takes decent shots with good colour reproduction and there's an LED flash so you can shoot snaps of your mates down the local without the photos looking like they were shot in a coal mine.
The phone's call quality is first rate, with crisp and clear reception, as well as its battery life. You'll get around 5 hours of talk time from it and it'll tick over on standby for up to 13 days.
Music players are becoming increasingly important to the latest handsets, and although Samsung supplies a decent pair of in-ear headphones with this phone, the on-board music player is a bit basic. It's got a very tired looking interface and is not as easy to use as it could be. Next to the offerings on the latest Nokia and Sony Ericsson phones, it looks decidedly old-fashioned.
If we were to be picky, we'd say that the camera could be improved with better optics and an autofocus feature. But this is a mid-range phone and if you really want those features you can always pay a bit more for one of Samsung's higher-end models.
We're impressed with the U800's blend of stylish good looks, no-nonsense menu system and powerful features, such as the HSDPA support. If you were considering Nokia's 6500 Classic then we'd seriously advise you to look at this Samsung, as it trumps the Nokia on a number of counts.
Edited by Marian Smith