When you take the Samsung FlipShot out from the box, you're greeted with a bevy of phone mysteries. How can a device so tiny function as both a phone and a digital camera? Will both photo and call quality be up to par? And, perhaps most importantly, just where does the battery go?
The first question is left up to the experts and the second question to the rest of the review. As for the third question, the entire front panel lifts off in order to provide access to the battery slot without interrupting the seamless design of the camera face. With even this smallest of details taken care of, the FlipShot promises to be, at the very least, an excellent entry into the field of design.
With an innovative design and an excellent 3-megapixel camera, the FlipShot should please photography enthusiasts. Others, especially those who enjoy watching phone video, will most likely enjoy the high-quality 262,000 color screen. The remainder of users should be satisfied with a nice-looking phone that offers the standard Verizon experience, including organizational apps, 500-entry Contacts list and a wide variety of messaging options.
The "flip-and-twist" design is, of course, its big selling point. This design feature is explored in further detail in the Camera section of this review. In this section, it is enough to say that this aspect of the design is both easy and fun to use, and certainly stands out as the outstanding feature of this phone. The rest design is more than satisfactory, combining a simple black and silver color scheme with a compact functionality.
The phone is a little bulkier than some of its ultra-slim contemporaries. However, it's in no way bulky, and for what is essentially a two-in-one device -- it packs a whole lot of functionality into a small package. It's average in size for a phone, but it's certainly on the smaller end of the digital camera size range. The device fits easily into hand in either vertical phone mode or horizontal camera mode.
The front of the closed phone, which is flipped towards the inside in camera mode, offers no design surprises. The sleek blackness of the front panel is interrupted only by the small external display and by silver lettering heralding the names of Samsung and Verizon. As an added fun bonus, hidden keys below the external screen control the music player.
A touch of the glassy black panel illuminates a small red play/pause button, while touches to the left and right illuminate the back and forward buttons. When not lit up, the buttons leave behind no trace that they ever existed. With its mix of black, silver, and glassy smoothness, the front panel looks cool, and the screen and hidden buttons add to its usefulness.
The back doubles as the front of the camera. Other phones have pulled off this trick before, but usually using the smaller external screen as the viewfinder instead of twisting around the larger internal screen. The battery is stored under this panel, but there's no battery case seam. Instead, the back offers a smooth black plate with the Samsung and Verizon logos engraved into two separate corners. There is no special embossing or painting of the logos, making them blend unnoticeably into the jet black continuity of the panel. Meanwhile, the lens hovers off to the right and top, trailed by a floating translucent flash. Since the lens and flash are on the top when the phone is oriented vertically, you don't need to worry about them awkwardly interfering with your phone-gripping. Functional and simple, the back panel gets the job done with a little bit of class.
The clamshell flips open to reveal the standard format of screen-on-top and keyboard-on-bottom. There's nothing out of the ordinary here, and if you've used a Samsung or Verizon clamshell before, you should be right at home. In addition to number pad, the keyboard features a 5-way navigation button, the standard assortment of Send, Clear, and End/Power buttons and two dedicated soft keys. To the left of the 5-way key is a button that summons the camera, and to the right is one that controls speakerphone. The zoom key -- along the side -- doubles as a volume controller as well. And headphones and the battery adapter connect to ports along the side.
With its much-touted "flip-and-twist" camera screen, the FlipShot offers something new to the phone scene. The design is both sleek and functional, offering dual functionality of phone and digital camera in a small, compact package. Out of the box, the FlipShot comes with a battery, power cable, wrist strap, quick reference guide and user manual.
As not-so-subtly hinted at in its name, the emphasis is on the camera. Fortunately, the phone presents a solid photographic experience that lives up to the hype. At 3-megapixels, the camera is not up to the standards of a stand-alone digital camera, but it remains on the cutting-edge for camera phones. Of course, the most exciting aspect is its design -- a flip-around top screen that allows what looks like a phone to transform into what looks like a digital camera. Offering video and static photography, a variety of functions, and a sleek design, the camera introduces phone aficionados to a whole new level of photography.
The "flip-and-twist" design is incredibly intuitive and ergonomic. You simply flips open the phone as if you're making a call -- gently twist the screen -- and flip the lid shut again. In a fraction of a second, you're holding a completely different device -- the phone has transformed into a camera almost instantaneously. This feature is the big sell point, and it's wonderfully executed. Not only is the transformation simple and fast, but the resulting camera looks great.
The entire front panel comes off as a unit for access to the battery case, removing the need for a separate panel and the unsightly seams. Innovative design is all well and good, but only if it is equally matched by quality function. Fortunately, the FlipShot is up to the challenge on the functional level as well. The 3-megapixel lens is state-of-the-art for camera phone technology. Furthermore, the features cover all the bases -- a variety of settings, automatic modes, and handy functions, ranging from multi-shot to auto-focus and everything in between.
Under the settings menu, you can set color effects (normal, black and white, sketch, antique, negative and emboss), white balance (auto, sunny, cloudy, tungsten and fluorescent), brightness (+/-4), ISO (auto, 100, 200 and 400) and metering (average, center and spot). The combination of these features let you capture clear, well-lit images with optional special effects. For further convenience, you may set the memory function to save to either the phone or a separate memory card -- sold separately.
A handful of other options allow you to add some personal touches to your photography. Icon Display offers a variety of display options, including guidelines often found on stand-alone digital cameras. The "ready sound" option caters to you if you're too busy, forgetful or self-conscious to warn your subjects of an impending photo. Once the shutter is pressed, a perky young female voice will say either "1... 2... 3," "Look here" or the classic "Say Cheese." If you like to issue your own message or no warnings at all, you can turn off the option.
The shutter sound can be turned off, or set to a standard "shutter" sound effect, in addition to the options "okay" and "ding-dong," the former of which sounds like it's being spoken by a disinterested party in someone else's conversation, and the former of which sounds exactly how one would expect it to. The auto-shot feature lets you to take pictures with one light tap of the shutter instead of two.
Other handy features include picture mode (auto, portrait, landscape, macro, night, daylight and backlight), flash (off, on, only this shot and auto) and auto-focus. Photo quality can be further regulated by the options (fine, normal and economy), and by a veritable host of resolutions, beginning at 2,048-by-1,536 pixels and working all the way down to 160-by-120 pixels, with six stages in between. The self-timer lets you participate in a group shot -- or if you're a lone photographer, capture pensive self-portraits. If you're out to have some fun or make some art, you should also enjoy multi-shot, which allows a series shot (three, five or 10 rapid-fire photos), divided shot (2-by-2, 3-by-3 or 4-by-4 grids of rapid-fire photos) and panorama shot.
The settings for the video camera are largely the same as those for the regular camera, with the exception of some differing sound and color effects. The camcorder also gives you the convenient option to allow or disallow calls from interrupting filming. Another convenient function optionally limits the size of a video to that which can fit in a video message. Like the camera, the camcorder also offers a self-timer for amateur filmmakers without an extra pair of hands to hold the camera. Camcorder resolutions are 320-by-240 or 176-by-144 pixels for video messaging. In addition to its innovative design, the camera offers a full range of photographic options to support you in the quest for the perfect phone photo.
An aggravating feature is the shutter button. Someone at Samsung decided that it would be a good idea -- if completely pressing down the shutter button -- to switch the camera between regular and camcorder mode. Unwitting, or simply hard-pressing, you'll accidentally shift between modes when simply trying to take a picture. In order to take a picture with the regular camera, you need to press the shutter button lightly once until the focus guidelines appear on the screen, and then lightly again to secure the shot -- the auto-shot feature allows one light press to take a shot. So depending on how quickly you get used to this feature, it may be either irrelevant or maddening. If you love to switch rapidly between video and static imaging, you'll rejoice.
Other than the shutter button problem, the functionality is smooth and coherent. One button triggers the options menu, one button both zooms and toggles through options on the menu, and the third takes pictures and selects options. Upon taking a picture, you merely have to flip the screen back into standard "phone" position in order to send the picture in a message.
The FlipShot's very name spotlights its intuitive new camera design, which certainly lives up to expectations. In addition to great design, the camera offers a large range of settings, options, and features that enhance your phone photography experience. Aside from the potential shutter button issue, the camera functions as smoothly as any stand-alone digital camera. While stand-alone cameras are, of course, years ahead in terms of photo quality, the FlipShot offers an excellent, cutting-edge entry to the world of mobile phone photography.
It's all well and good that the FlipShot has a nifty camera, but how does it fare in the realm of basic phone functionality? The basic feature package doesn't differ greatly from the standard Verizon fare, but even this is certainly satisfactory for daily phone purposes.
The contacts database stores name, two mobile numbers, home and work numbers, two email addresses and a fax number. You can also assign each contact with a personalized ringtone and photo, as well as lump them into groups. A notes function should come in handy if you add indiscriminately to your contacts list and consequently end up unsure as to just how you met this guy named "Biff" who suddenly seems to be in your phonebook. A handy feature allows you to store passwords or codes for phone numbers that lead to an automated system. Businesspeople and others in need of a serious contacts database will still have to rely on a BlackBerry or Smartphone, but the contacts list should more than meet basic needs.
As with most phones nowadays, voicemail and speakerphone are both available for times when you want to avoid communication or share it with the world at large. Many phones nowadays offer another, more recent, feature: an "in case of emergency" number in the contacts list. You can plug in the name of a close family member or friend to be contacted should you be found in distress or should a lost phone be recovered by a Good Samaritan hoping to make contact. A few more handy features round out the standard features package, including speed dial, and a timer recording the length of all calls.
The FlipShot is not here to revolutionize Verizon's software package, and it doesn't. What it does do is offer a satisfactory list of standard call features, including a more-than-adequate contacts list, storage of emergency numbers, speed dial and more.
The FlipShot offers a 240-by-320 pixel 262,000 color internal screen and a 128-by-96 pixel 65,000 color external display, which, of course, twist around in camera mode so that the larger screen becomes the camera viewing window. The external display shows the usual stats: time, date, signal strength, battery level, etc. Options include a choice between an analog and a digital clock, including the option to turn off the clock completely. With 65,000 colors, the external screen matches the standard for many internal screens, and can display user photos or other images as wallpaper.
The internal display shows images at a beautiful 262,000 color resolution. Large and bright, the screen is certainly specialized for its camera-related functions. Display options include a choice between three themes (VZW Classic, Camera, and Espresso), though the latter two rely heavily on brown, and the first displays a rainbow of primary colors worthy of a toddler's bedroom. Still, you're welcome to choose between three evils, and if you're a fan of light brown, you should be more than satisfied. Dial fonts may be set to normal or large, while the font style may be set to normal, rainbow, sticky note, or the ever-classy "quill pen." If you're tired of strained eyes, you'll be happy to discover that the menu font size may also be changed from normal to large. Additional options let you set contrast, backlight brightness and duration, and customize the banner.
With two high-quality screens, the FlipShot is ready, willing, and able to display an entire array of digital imagery. The quality of the internal screen is up to its double function of camera display. Furthermore, a wealth of display options let you to customize to your hearts' content.
Need a phone that doubles as an MP3 player? Even if the answer is no, chances are that it won't matter. Most phones nowadays offer MP3 capabilities, and the FlipShot is no exception. Of course, MP3 means strictly MP3 or WMA files -- don't expect to be able to play iTunes files here.
You can upload files by synching with a PC, or by downloading from VCast Music. VCast Music, of course, requires extra fees. Once files have been transferred to the phone, they are added to Verizon's standard My Music jukebox app, which organizes songs by genre, artist, album, track title or playlist. A shuffle feature is also included. In addition to MP3 files, you can download addition ringtones -- for a fee -- to supplement the preloaded offerings. Preloaded are seven ringtones, with such memorable names as "Melody 2" or "Bell 3." As an added perk, the FlipShot plays its songs loud -- speakers on either edge deliver a powerful audio experience.
The FlipShot offers a standard audio experience, with the My Music MP3 jukebox, VCast Music, and the option of downloading extra ringtones -- the latter two for additional fees. The ample speakers give the FlipShot something special in the audio department, allowing you to start up a party anytime, anywhere, with the touch of a button.
The FlipShot offers a wide range of messaging options, largely in accordance with its emphasis on camera functionality. In addition to standard text messaging, you can send pictures, videos, sketches and postcard messages. Even a simple text brings with it a large options menu. You can add preloaded graphics, which include everything from smiley faces to clowns to what appear to be nine distinct types of sushi. Need to add a bikini icon to a text message? The FlipShot has got it covered.
Just in case this random assortment of preloaded images has left out something vital, you can download additional graphics -- as always, for a fee. You can also add a preloaded or downloaded animated icon, although the variety of the preloaded animations is hardly up to par with that of the static images.
In the more practical field, you can add quick text or a name card to a message. If you want to utilize a more subtle personal touch than surprise sound effect or icons shaped like bottles of beer, you should enjoy the edit text format tool, which lets you set font and background color, as well as font size, style and alignment.
Those capitalizing on the camera capabilities will no doubt make ample use of the picture and video messaging, which allows you to share your photos and self-directed video with friends, family, acquaintances and others. The special sketch message option lets you send a "sketch" style photo, which redraws a photo with black lines and shading. Perhaps the most unusual -- although not unique -- is the postcard, which superimposing a picture of handwritten text over another photo.
With a large selection of message options, and a large selection of options, the messaging system will not only keep you in touch with friends and family, but also allow for a whole deal of fun.
With a state-of-the-art camera, fun messaging and a built-in MP3 player, the FlipShot virtually guarantees you'll be happy and entertained. But just in case the latter three features aren't enough to do the trick, it also offers two modern entertainment standards -- video and games. Of course, these standards are accompanied by another modern standard: extra fees. You can download video from VCast Videos, and BREW games must also be downloaded via Verizon's "Get it Now" service. The 262,000 colors and slightly-larger-than-average screen should enhance the video and gaming experience.
Offering a standard package of video clips and games from Verizon's storehouse, the FlipShot should keep you entertained for a small fee. Again, the FlipShot is not a smartphone, nor does it claim to be. Accordingly, its app functions are nothing more than standard. That being said, the apps offered should keep you satisfied. A quick peak into the tools folder reveals the following: voice command, calculator, calendar, alarm clock, stop watch, world clock and notepad.
The calculator tool is rather fancy -- in addition to the regular calculator, it also offers a tip calculator and a converter that switches between standard and metric for temperature, length, weight, area and volume. An excellent addition, almost hidden at the bottom of the list, is the currency converter, which switches between the U.S. Dollar and a host of other commonly-used currencies.
Other than the calculator, the tools aren't particularly exciting. The calendar should be familiar to anyone who's used a Verizon phone before. The alarm clock, stop watch, world clock and notepad functions also fail to add anything new to the game. Voice command, powered by VoiceSignal, allows you to call a name in the contacts list or any random phone number by speaking into the phone. You can also use voice command to send messages, lookup names, select an MP3 playlist, go to a menu, check phone stats such as battery level or check out their account or the help guide. It's standard stuff, but a nice addition if you enjoy these kinds of functions.
The FlipShot doesn't offer anything special in terms of apps, but it certainly gets the job done with a standard set of tools, including a rather spiffy calculator. Note that Verizon offers "Tools on the Go," which allows you to download -- for a fee, of course -- additional apps.
In terms of internet, the FlipShot doesn't offer any surprises, utilizing Verizon's micro-browser through the Get It Now news and information service. Featuring Ev-Do technology, the FlipShot offers a solid, if not innovative, Internet experience.
The storage capacity may be supplemented by a microSD card, which should be useful if you're expecting to make ample use of the camera.
Infrared ports are becoming a thing of the past, while Wi-Fi is usually only found on phones aspiring to be a PDA. It's therefore no surprise that the FlipShot, which is fairly advanced but emphasizes camera over other functions, doesn't sport either of these connectivity options. However, the phone does offer USB and a host of Bluetooth profiles to take care of connectivity needs.
The USB port is pretty standard, but, as is often the case, plugs into the same slot as the power adapter. Fortunately, this shouldn't be a problem, since there is a separate, standard headphone jack, so you can listen to music while powering up.
The Bluetooth package features headset, handsfree, dial-up networking, stereo, phonebook access, basic printing, basic imaging, object push and serial port. While most people who use these features already know what they are, non-experts will probably be most concerned with the headset and handsfree profiles, which allow the phone to connect wirelessly to an earpiece or a handsfree car kit. Basic printing lets you send images from the phone directly to a Bluetooth compatible printer, while basic images sends photos directly to another compatible device. Stereo allows MP3 files stored on the phone to be played on compatible wireless speakers. Dial-up networking lets the phone be used as a modem with a PDA or laptop over Verizon's broadband system. And phonebook access and object push let you share stored data with another device, while serial port lets the phone be used as a "virtual serial port."
With USB and a robust Bluetooth package, the FlipShot should meet all the connectivity needs of phone amateurs, as well as satisfy you if you regularly adapt your phone into an all-purpose connectivity device.
The design puts the emphasis on photography, and rises to its own challenge with a high-end 3-megapixel camera and a score of photo options. The photography is further supported by the large, 262,000 color internal screen, which should come in useful even if you don't frequently use the camera function. Video and picture messaging round out the camera-based package.
In addition to the camera, the FlipShot also offers all of the standard features: MP3 capabilities, video downloads, web browsing, Bluetooth, apps and text messaging. The software package is pretty standard for Verizon, but while it's nothing out of the ordinary, the ordinary is still pretty good. The FlipShot is an excellent option if you're looking for a great camera phone, and still a decent choice for everyone else. ♦
This phone is Samsung's upgrade for the A990. I bought this after deciding it was time to replace my Motorola E815. I have only had this phone a few days, so this is a preliminary review. Some of the features I can't comment on yet as I haven't tried them.
1. Great camera -- This is truly the best camera I've had on a cell, but make no mistake -- it cannot replace a true digital camera. This is great for taking spur of the moment shots and you'll get really nice quality (but only if the camera isn't in motion when you shoot -- there's also a somewhat annoying shutter delay), but this just can't compare to a true camera. To be fair, no cell camera can, and of all the ones currently out there, I'm pretty sure this is the best. It has a flash, optional auto-focus, and several other nice options. Camcorder is average for a cell phone -- some blurriness, sound quality so-so.
2. Great reception, no problem yet with dropped calls.
3. Headset volume is good and loud if you have problems understanding the person on the other end of the call, as I often do.
4. Beautiful display screen, displays colors vividly.
5. Stereo Bluetooth.
6. Supports VZ Navigator.
1. Ringer often isn't loud enough even on the loudest setting. You may have to download a very loud ringtone if you have trouble hearing your phone ring when it's in a pocket or purse (undoubtedly you'll download at least one anyway, as the ones that come pre-loaded are terrible).
2. Holding down the pound button will switch vibrate on and off, but if you want to change from ringer only to ringer plus vibrate (or vice versa); you have to go through the menus to the sound settings.
3. Battery life is not that great if you use your cell often or play games / download stuff often. For more infrequent users, it'll probably be fine. I haven't gotten around to noting specific talk times yet.
4. Front cover smudges easily.
5. Styling is too boxy for my taste -- far from creative or sleek.
6. Games are still quite limited for this phone. I'm hoping that changes soon as I LOVE playing games on my cell. The 2 poker games available for this phone have displays that are WAY too small, making them extremely frustrating to play.
7. The most annoying drawback: the navigation controls. The OK button is FAR too small and the left and right controls are placed way too closely to the soft touch buttons next to them, making it quite difficult at times to hit the right button. The times you'll notice this most are when you are navigating between menus (once you are already in a menu, you can use a number key to select the option you want), and when playing games. If you play games a lot on your cell phone, think really hard before you get this phone. I have average size fingers and often end up hitting the wrong button if I'm not very careful. It's actually for this reason alone that I've been thinking of returning the phone -- it's just that annoying. For now I'll see if I can live with it, as I do generally like the phone otherwise.
Features I can't comment on:
1. Music player -- Apparently this model can play both MP3 and WAV files (unlike the A-990 which could only play WAV), although I can't verify that for certain and can't speak to quality of the music, as you have to purchase a separate music essentials kit before you can transfer music files onto the cell. Note -- if you will be listening a lot to music, you are most likely going to have to invest in an extended battery and be prepared to charge the phone often. The battery drains pretty quickly just using Get It Now, so I can only imagine what listening to music for extended periods would do.
2. Speakerphone -- Haven't tried it yet (I very rarely use speakerphone).
Was this review helpful to you?
I paid $200 for this phone. Is it worth it? I really don't know. The main drawbacks for me are the not so great battery life and the horrible, horrible navigational buttons (and the very plain, boxy styling). If just the navigational controls were improved, I'd probably feel better about the phone, but as it is, I can't say I'm very enthusiastic yet.
As it turns out, I returned this phone. For the price, I just didn't feel it was worth the hassle. Unfortunately, before I did, I wasted $30 on the music essentials kit. So, for all those wondering what the music quality is like: not good when listening on the external speakers, pretty good when listening through my headphones -- not the ones that came with the kit -- (although the volume wasn't always as loud as I wanted, even on the loudest setting).
Can it replace an MP3 player (assuming you pay for a microSD card)? No, although it's not really because of the phone. Rather, the fault lies in Verizon's horrid Music Manager software. Once you sync your files from your PC to your phone through Music Manager, you can only group your files by album, song title, artist name, or genre. You can't create folders (only playlists). I'd even be willing to put up with that, except that I prefer to search by genre, and MM didn't recognize a lot of my songs' genres, even though I made sure each one was carefully tagged before synching. There is also no repeat function, something I found very annoying. If they can manage a shuffle option (which they did), there should be no problems with a repeat function.
Again, that isn't specific to the phone, but Verizon's terrible music software. Which, by the way, would often stop synching songs -- it would give an error saying it was unable to transfer the files. Turns out, you have to unplug the USB cable, close out MM, reopen it and plug the cable back in, then it will work. Except that this happened many times (it also happened when I was synching music with a different cable on an LG phone -- the software is extremely buggy).
Until Verizon fixes these problems and limitations, their phones just can't take the place of an MP3 player, no matter how much extra memory you add. So, considering that the phone can't really substitute as an MP3 player or a digital camera, and the battery life without an extended battery is poor (especially if you play games or use Get it Now a lot) and the navigation button is atrocious, I just couldn't justify $200 on it (plus the extra $50 I would have needed to spend on an extended battery).
I switched it for the LG VX8350, which came to $50 (plus an extra $50 for the extended battery -- it seems poor battery life is rampant among all Verizon phones now). It does what I need it to do, for substantially less.
Too bad I can't stop thinking about the LG Venus.Was this review helpful to you?
I traded up from a Samsung A640 to the Flipshot. I wanted the camera feature. I don't use the phone for music.
To go from a 0.3-megapixel to a 3-megapixel phone camera -- wow! Absolutely great photos -- in focus from up close to afar. What previous says is true: you have to hold the phone still while taking the shot; the shutter delay is irritatingly long. Landscapes -- no problem. People -- adults holding still for the photo -- no problem. Candids? Not going to get the shot. Pets? Only if they are sleeping or obey a 'stay' command.
It takes a bit to figure out the camera controls, but after reading the fine print, no problem. Quality of phone -- I think the A640 is better for audio quality on phone calls. Flipshot is tinny. The speakerphone -- very poor.Was this review helpful to you?
About a month and a half ago I purchased the Samsung Flipshot phone. When I attempted to store significant dates, both weekly and yearly, I noticed the phone altered the information irreparably. Some data was wiped out altogether, but most dates were changed nonsensically. Believing this was a problem with my particular phone, I returned it for an exchange only to realize it is a programming bug that is applicable to every Samsung Flipshot.
I notified both the Verizon store and Samsung but to date this issue has not been corrected. If you depend on your calendar as heavily as I do (for all appointments and reminders) you may want to wait until this programming issue has been corrected before purchasing this phone. Please note this information was submitted to Samsung a month and a half ago, though I was told the problem would have been fixed two weeks from submission. To date the problem remains.Was this review helpful to you?
Write a review and share you thoughts.