If you want me to describe Samsung’s Star in a few words, that would be “a touchscreen phone for the masses.” Today, touchscreen phones are not a novelty as it was used to be a few years back and Samsung is only trying to give a touchscreen experience at an affordable price. We had a chance to test out the device for a few days and here is our verdict.
We can’t say Samsung Star is an eye-turner but considering a moderate price tag attached to it, it doesn’t disappoint either. The front sports a nice 3.2-inch QVGA screen along with Call/End buttons and the centre one acting as a back button. The sides are taken by the volume controls, charging/headphone slot on one side while the other side has a camera and a key lock button. The plastic battery cover is however, a downer that slides down pretty easily (on the loose side) to reveal the battery and the SIM card slot.
One thing you’ll notice when you hold it is its weight. It is just 92grams and with the use of plastic body, some users may feel it cheap and not classy.
Star has a 3-inch screen supporting a WQVGA resolution and 262K colors. As you would expect, the screen is decent enough to keep you hooked to watch movies or play games.
Star runs Samsung’s proprietary OS overlaid with the TouchWiz UI. TouchWiz, in simple words is a user interface developed by Samsung to combat HTC’s TouchFLO and the likes. Though initially, Samsung kept TouchWiz exclusively for Windows Mobile phones, now they have extended to non-WinMo but touchscreen phones. TouchWiz with widgets on the side may sound exciting and it is if you haven’t used TouchWiz before but over a period of time you’ll be bored of the UI. One good thing of the UI is that it allows to keep three different homescreens (three small squares denote it) which supports different wallpapers and widgets to spread between them.
It is a quad-band GSM phone that supports EDGE connectivity and no 3G. This actually shouldn’t not a problem in India since 3G is yet to roll out completely but Star’s lack of 3G may ire some users in countries where 3G is common. Call quality is not topnotch but it is at par for the phones in this range.
Many of you must be waiting for this, so here it is – the camera. Star possesses a 3.2MP sensor, digital zoom, lots of different shot modes, white balance and of course, a dedicated camera button. While it may sound good on the surface, the camera is a real disappointment. Let’s forget the fact that it does not have a flash or ISO settings but not having autofocus is surely going to cause a pain in the a** for many. No autofocus means you really have to be a pro to not shake your hands while clicking a picture, which otherwise can turn a beautiful moment into a blurry one. The video recording is not exemplary but it is able to record 15fps at QVGA resolution.
Star also comes with a music player that can be activated from inside the menu or can be accessed quickly via a widget. In fact, music player is the only thing that works in tandem with other things, say while composing messages, surfing the web etc. The phone supports a variety of formats like MP3, AAC, AAC+,WMA, AMR, WAV and integrates Samsung’s proprietary audio technology DNSe to enhance the quality of the music. Regarding the audio playback quality, it’s above par then you would expect from a sub-10k phone. The playback from the loudspeaker is crisp and easily audible in a small room while the earphone outputs the same quality but the lack of a 3.5mm audio jack may leave some users unhappy as you need ones that work with Samsung only.
Other notable features it has are FM Radio, games, accelerometer and Smart Unlock. Star supports MIDP 2.0 and since there are tons of apps and games supporting MIDP 2.0, finding and installing content won’t be that difficult. Few games effectively use the integrated accelerometer and apart from that, the accelerometer is only used to change the screen orientation.
One thing that impressed me was the Smart (Gesture) Unlock feature. The functioning of this unlock is simple – just write an alphabet on the screen in locked mode and the phone will directly take you to the desired menu. Smart Unlock supports unlocking of the phone, speed dial or launching an app.
S5230 comes with a powerful battery rated at 1000mAh and though, it is does not come close to the Samsung claims, it did give me a 1.5-2 days on a single charge from my normal usage. The usage included about 4-5 hours of calls, around 3 hours of music and an hour for other things.
On an ending note, I would like to say again that Star is not about the high-end features but it tries to deliver touchscreen experience which the consumers can get at an inexpensive price. If price is your concern but still need a good looking touchscreen phone, Star is the phone that won’t disappoint. It is selling in India at a price hovering around Rs. 9,500 mark.