It may not have the style of its immediate rivals, but this is a dependable and capable multimedia phone
5-megapixel camera in slim body
Lack of innovation in design
Flash could be improved
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Samsung has been there, done that and bought the T-shirt as far as ultra-thin mobiles go. But the introduction of a 5-megapixel slimline snapper signifies a move into a new market for the fashion-conscious Koreans.
Pitched headlong into an elite group of two, the G600 knocks spots off its Nokia and LG 5-megapixel competitors in terms of sleek looks, fitting its impressive tech-spec into a familiarly sleek, sliding form.
Admittedly, it's not on a par with LG's Prada Phone (and forthcoming Viewty 5-megapixel newcomer) or even Samsung's own U600 in terms of panache, but there's something about the G600's unassuming looks and supreme build-quality that hold a definite appeal. At around 15mm, the handset is more than pocketable, and there's a certain weightyness that is reassuring in the hand.
Like most of Samsung's recent offerings, the G600 is a slider with minimal external styling and a two-tone black look that immediately states the handset's more serious pretensions. The circular, chrome-trimmed navigation pad has become a common feature of late, but while the layout looks familiar Samsung has abandoned its predisposition to tricksy touch-sensitive controls for this model.
Slide the handset smoothly into action and the call/end keys revert from white to their usual green and red colouring, while the generously spaced keypad bears a white backlight. In use, Samsung has spruced up the interface - again adding a more serious air while sticking to the tried-and-tested arrangement of menus and sub-menus.
The eagle-eyed will immediately spot a new addition to the options in the form of Google Search, activated using the down hotkey without having to go to the browser. Unfortunately, though, there's no 3G to take advantage of this practical feature, which can make for a frustrating wait while searching.
Of course, the main event as far as the G600 goes is its 5-megapixel camera, and Samsung should be applauded for packing in such a feature while maintaining its slim design sensibilities. Previous multi-megapixel models have not always delivered a top performance in terms of picture quality, but upping the ante appears to have had a positive effect here.
Taken at the top resolution of 2560 x 1920 pixels, photos were both clear and well defined, and the previously sluggish autofocus has been much improved. Colours, too, were resplendent, and even in low light the G600 makes a decent fist at capturing accurate images.
The LED flash can't compete with the Sony Ericsson Cyber-shot's Xenon, but if you're unhappy with the results you can always bump up the ISO or change White Balance settings. There's also plenty of effects if you fancy getting creative, while the 16-million colour, 2.2in LCD screen is perfect for framing and viewing images.
Other useful photographic features include the Panorama shooting mode, which allows you to stitch three pictures together, and a high-quality Macro mode for close-ups.
Aside from the G600's imaging capabilities, the built-in music player has also been on the receiving end of an overhaul and is much more reminiscent of Samsung's MP3 players. There's not too much on the fancy graphics side, but plenty by way of playlist and search functionality.
A variety of formats are supported, including MP3 and AAC, and users are invited to make the most of this with the inclusion of a 1GB MicroSD card (the handset will accept cards up to 2GB).
Bluetooth and USB are available to transfer tracks, or you could always give the built-in FM radio a try. Refreshingly, audio quality on all counts is impressive.
The last few handsets Samsung has put out have all been strong in the performance department, and the G600 is no different. Call quality is clear and dropouts are extremely rare, while signal strength also holds up well in difficult circumstances.
Battery life has hugely improved from the early Ultras and should give around three days with moderate use - although keen snappers will enjoy much less.
Samsung has really gone back to basics with this handset and as a result has produced a dependable, stylish option for the multimedia-centric buyer. While it doesn't go shouting its credentials from the rooftops, the G600 succeeds in presenting a genuine rival to the current big-hitting cameraphones in a far more attractive package.
You know where you are with this phone, and the lack of gimmicks for once leaves the user in complete control.
Ease of use: 7
Call quality: 8
Value for money: 7
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