Overview



What’s good: Inexpensive phone with all the features you need – physical keyboard, camera, 3.5 mm headphone jack (remember when that wasn’t standard?). It’s small and cute, making it great for teenagers.

What’s bad: Not the best web browser. It’s slow and the screen is too small. Interface similar to that of the Samsung Instinct, which may take some getting used to.

Introduction



It took me a while to catch on to the Seeks UI, until I realized it was exactly the same as the Samsung Instinct. Then I knew I had a job in front of me because I never truly adopted the mindset required to use an Instinct. At first glance, it doesn’t seem like that big of a change, but once you start using it, you realize how programmed we are to use a phone a certain way and when one phone goes against that, it’s hard to adapt to. We’ll get into the user interface a few paragraphs down, but just know that this device will take some getting used to, at least it did for me. Design & Features The box the Samsung Seek comes in is very eco-friendly. Everything is made from recyclable material and the paper comes from sustainable forests. The box can be emptied and used to send back your old phone for recycling. A shipping label is included. Aside from that, you’ll find the usual accessories in the box along with the phone – the battery, AC phone charger, and Getting Started/Basics guides.

Design & Features

The box the Samsung Seek comes in is very eco-friendly. Everything is made from recyclable material and the paper comes from sustainable forests. The box can be emptied and used to send back your old phone for recycling. A shipping label is included. Aside from that, you’ll find the usual accessories in the box along with the phone – the battery, AC phone charger, and Getting Started/Basics guides.



The Seek is very small and compact. It fits nicely in the hand and feels solid. The phone measures 4.12” x 2.08” x .58” and weighs 3.85 ounces. It’s probably the smallest and shortest phone I’ve used, unless you count the Lotus, which doesn’t really count because of its strange design. Because the phone is so small, the screen is likewise smaller than usual, measuring 2.6 inches diagonally. The left side of the phone contains the volume rocker button and microSD card slot (there is no card included). The right side contains the lock/power button, charging port, and dedicated camera key. The top of the phone is where you’ll find the 3.5 mm audio jack along with the lanyard port on the corner of the device. The front panel contains only the screen and three keys – back, home, and a phone function key. The screen is of course a resistive touchscreen.

Usability & Performance

As stated earlier, the Seek functions nearly exactly like the Instinct series. Basically, there is no main menu button. Rather, the home screen has four tabs - Favs, Main, Fun, and Web. Each of your menu options is divided between these four categories. In order to get to phone functions or your contacts, you push the phone button. This takes you to another “home screen” that also has four tabs - Favorite Contacts, Contacts, Recent, and Dialer. There is a slight learning curve. I found myself instinctively using the phone button as the end and clear key as I could on other phones, only to get no reaction from the phone. Also, the unlock screen can only be pulled up by pressing the unlock button, not by pressing any button on the front panel. This was slightly annoying, but easy to get used to. You will have to adapt to not having the luxury of just going to a main menu to see all of your programs or apps, but instead having to remember which category that particular app or program is in.



As far as overall performance, the screen worked just fine and also gives you haptic feedback each time you touch it. This can, of course, be turned off if you don’t like it. Moving on to the keyboard, I had few problems with it. Because the phone is so small, this means that the keyboard is not as wide as most, though it isn’t cramped. With my small, girlish hands, I was able to use the keyboard very well without having to stretch my thumbs across a wide space, something that bothers me when I’m using a larger phone. The keys are nice and rubbery, giving you a good grip, and the space bar is on its own row instead of being squeezed in the bottom row of letters. The keyboard also has directional arrows, and emoticon shortcut key, and a number grid integrated within the letter keys.



The Seek has a 1.3 megapixel camera with no autofocus, zoom, or flash. There are some pretty cool shooting modes though, including some interesting mosaic shot presets. The Seek has a 1000 mAh battery and will give you about a day of heavy use, perhaps two days of standard to light use.



The phone comes with a music player as well as preinstalled individual apps for Twitter, MySpace, and Facebook, which is pretty cool and not very common. There are also shortcuts to weather, e-mail, and movie info.

I said in the outset that one of the downsides to this device is the web browser, and it really is. The Phonedog website took what seemed like an eternity to fully load, a full three minutes! I had better results when testing other sites, most of them taking 30 to 40 seconds to load. However, the screen is so small, which means the fonts are so small that you can’t hardly read anything. And the zooming feature hardly works at all. My overall browsing experience was not good.

Conclusion

The Samsung Seek is small and cute, has a great QWERTY keyboard, and was definitely made for social networking and sending text messages. I had problems with the web browser and I’ve never been a fan of the UI that the Seek and the Instinct uses. That may not be a problem for you. If not, then the fact that it comes preloaded with all the apps and shortcuts you’ll need to keep it touch with the world makes it a pretty cool little device, though I personally would prefer a device like the LG Rumor Touch which also has a touchscreen, QWERTY keyboard and was made for social networking. The Samsung Seek retails for $29.99 after a mail-in rebate and a new 2-year agreement. It is available in Cool Blue, Scarlet Red, and Fantasy Pink. Pick it up at your local Sprint store today.


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eBay prices for the Samsung Seek M350 Cool Blue


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