Before we got our mitts on this much-hyped, 5-megapixel Korean import, we were slightly skeptical. Sure, we got to play with it a little at CTIA (when it was just called the Soul) and were instantly cast under a spell of gadget lust. But really, anytime a manufacturer dubs a product “Magic” we’re secretly hoping it has the ability to turn PCs into Macs and make Edge networks disappear.
The Samsung U900, aka Soul, aka Magical Touch, doesn’t really have any supernatural abilities. What it does have is a tiny, touch-sensitive OLED nav-pad that is one of the coolest, most efficient touch interfaces we’ve seen on a handset. The small display (situated below the main 2.2-inch QVGA screen) features icons that morph based on whatever application is currently on the screen. Switch to camera mode and controls for snapping pictures appear. Toggle to the music player and buttons for fast forward, rewind, pause and play pop up.
But unlike David Blaine or (shudder) Criss Angel, this genteel stainless-steel slider boasts more than just a handful of cheap tricks.
The big selling point is the phone’s pocketability. The picture quality and dynamic range could be better (LED flash, we’re talking about you) but at 0.5 inches thick and 7 ounces, this slider is more svelte than just every 5MP cam we’ve tested.
Ultimately, our biggest complaint is that you cannot use the camera without sliding open the phone first. This design protects the lens from dust bunnies and pocket grime, yes, but shooting with a fully-open device was a tad awkward at times. And you know, sometimes that just ruins the magic.