The Samsung Impression, one of the latest from AT&T, has a large touch-screen display and a spacious keyboard, along with an excellent camera. It's a quad-band GSM world phone with Bluetooth and GPS functionality, plus fun polyphonic ringtones and highly customizable vibrating alerts.
It's an exceptional device that might make you decide you need a new phone -- even if you like your current one.
DESIGN & BUILD
My first impression of this device was a good one; it's a substantial phone that nevertheless doesn't feel heavy. It's nicely designed in almost every respect -- rounded in all the right places, with a slide-out keyboard that functions well.
At 4.48 inches it's just a bit taller than other phones, but it's also a little narrower at just a hair under 2.25 inches, and it feels great in my relatively small hand. It's a bit large in the pocket, but it works.
Most of the buttons are located on the sides of the device, and they're large enough to manipulate easily while still being small and unobtrusive as far as aesthetics are concerned. The call, back, and disconnect buttons underneath the screen are flush with the front of the device, but well designed and still easy to use -- my fingers don't have any trouble finding them.
I have only one small complaint about the overall physical design of the Impression, and that's the location and use of the Lock key. It's located on the right side of the device, on the lower portion (the keyboard slider, not the display). You have to press and hold it for a couple of seconds to unlock the device, and both my test subjects and I had the same problem with it.
When you try to press the button with your thumb, you tend to also press on the left side of the device as well, which can start opening the slider and causing the display to slide over to the right, making it harder to keep pressure on that lock button. I could be making way too much of this point, but I still find it annoying after using the device for a week now, and it's the only real problem with the physical design of the Impression. I'm learning to adjust for it and hold the phone slightly differently, but I felt this should still be mentioned.
Display: The front of the phone is dominated by the 3.2-inch AMOLED (active-matrix organic light-emitting diode) display. It's gorgeous, with vivid, bright colors and true blacks, and the new technology promises to save battery consumption as compared to traditional LCD screens. The Impression has one of the nicest displays I've seen, though it still tends to wash out in direct sunlight. It's more usable than a lot of the phones I've seen, but I was hoping for an even better performance.
You can use either a stylus or your finger on the display, and every time you touch the device it gives you a bit of vibrating feedback. It's very responsive to your touch, so you don't have to hold your finger down hard or for a specific amount of time, which is nice. There were a couple of times that it was hard to select a specific control along the extreme edge of the screen, but after I got a bit more used to the device that wasn't really an issue.
Keyboard: The QWERTY keyboard is surprisingly roomy, and I really enjoyed using it. The individual keys are larger than many, and I especially appreciate the fact that the identifying labels were very large and easy to read. Even when it came to the secondary punctuation on each one I was able to find exactly what I was looking for very quickly, which is a welcome relief for my aging eyes. The keys are illuminated for nighttime use, and the Impression is the easiest phone to use in dim conditions so far, thanks to the exceptionally clear key labels.
The keys are nicely spaced horizontally and vertically, and are very slightly convex. The space bar is double-wide, which is great, along with the dedicated arrow keys for faster navigation. In short, it's just about the best physical QWERTY keyboard I've ever used, and if you do a lot of messaging, the Impression would be a great choice if you're tired of trying to use the tiny, thumb-cramping keyboards found on most phones these days.
Extras: The Impression comes with a wall charger, USB cable, and a software CD that includes the user manual.
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