Functional rather than pretty, the Samsung Solid Extreme manages to maintain reasonable bodyweight (103g) and proportions (113(h) x 49(w) x 17.1(d)mm), so it's sturdy rather than overly chunky.
It's available in all black or with some metallic red trim down the curvy front and back edges – the latter offsetting the austere look slighty.
It's very similar in looks to the Bound, and also has a curvy lanyard loop built into the rear panel – though there's no lanyard or hook in-box. The back panel and sides also have slight grooves to help you grip the phone.
The rubber-feel casing gives the phone good handling characteristics for using in the wet or cold weather. It fits nicely in the hand and is well weighted too.
Waterproofing requirements demand a lockable back panel, which can be opened or closed by turning a screw, using a coin or similar object. The sealed back panel is trickier to wedge open and remove than on an average handset – though in this case, that's a good thing.
Samsung has hidden away the phone's MicroSD card slot under the 1000mAh battery pack, which is not ideal for access – you have to power down the phone to switch cards – but is perhaps more forgivable because of the structural requirements needed to seal the phone.
The phone can handle MicroSD cards up to 8GB, though no card is provided in-box. With only 10MB of internal storage you'll certainly have to get one if you want to make use of the music player.
Around the sides of the phone, there's a regular Samsung multi-connector socket, protected under a plastic bung, plus a trio of curved buttons.
These offer a tactile, easy-to-feel way of controlling the volume – and also of activating the phone's built-in flashlight. This is located at the top of the casing, and provides a powerful beam that will be welcome out in the wilds at night.
On the front, the 1.77-inch, 128x160 pixel display is disappointingly small and has a low resolution. Compared to other more mid-range Samsung handsets, the Solid Extreme's 262K-colour display lacks detail for imaging, and the user interface graphics look a little blocky. It certainly gives the handset a more budget feel than its protective shell might suggest.
Like the more highly-specced Bound, the numberpad comprises a single plastic sheet of keys. This maintains the integrity of the waterproofing but doesn't do a lot for the texting action. It's a bit spongy for fast message tapping, though the numbers are large enough and adequately defined to avoid mispressing. Speedy texters may not enjoy it, though it's chunky enough for cold or wet fingers to press.
It'll probably pass muster for texting with light gloves on too, though it was too awkward for our thicker ski gloves to negotiate.