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Review Samsung P510

Samsung P510, live pictures

Standard kit:

  • Phone
  • Manual
  • Battery 700 and 900 mAh (Li-Ion)
  • Handsfree headset

Samsung became the first manufacturer who presented clamshell GSM-phone with automatic opening mechanism. T200 caused high amount of interest from the public, but was not released for European market after all, so Asia was the only place where you could buy it. The new model has similar mechanism of auto-opening and was released after year and a half, now European users can buy it as well. The phone received index P510 and gathered almost all possible features from the latest Samsung phones. The company was trying to make this model not only fashion, even though this could have been expected due to auto-opening mechanism. The phone is targeted mostly to male auditory, for those who talk a lot and feel the need of large phone book, usual features, for those who use the phone as working tool. You can’t call these users businessmen, their demands are bigger, this phone’s users will be slightly modest in their demands, but they will require all presented features to be on top.

For the first time the company presented external OLED-display that can work continuously, and not just turn on whenever it is needed. The continuous work became possible due to the new screen type, which requires less energy and does not affect the overall phone’s working time. This means that whenever you look at the screen you will always see the required information. This is a huge advantage of this model, unlike the others that have external screens which need to be activated in stand by mode. Another positive moment is related to the improvement of readability in OLED-display when it hits direct sunlight, it is better than STN and even some TFT displays - this display type is more functional.

Only half of the screen is used in stand by mode. This is text line with main icons and the time. The user can also define date or analogue clock being displayed. The last two have really nice animated effect and were made with taste. .

The manufacturer once again claims that the external display can show up to 256 colors, but this specification is more theoretical. In reality it will be almost impossible to see more than 4 colors displayed on the screen at once. First of all its soft-blue, the second will be time – green plus additional icons – red (for example – overfill of SMS-memory).

You can consider picture’s quality as another proof, well more like the number of displayed colors on the picture from built-in camera. You will not see anything more than just shades of one color, make the conclusions yourself. Soon manufacturers will come to the conclusion that marketing needs are not so high and will start mentioning the real number of displayed colors by OLED-displays. The first example can be mentioned - Philips who announced Philips 639 with PolyLED display that can show only one color (trademark of OLED-screen with mirror surface).

Heading back to P510’s screen, I will point out that it looks damn attractive especially due to the fact that it remains turned on all the time. The phone receives slightly different look, unlike the one it had with switched off display. The screen partly improves the standard shape of the phone. The handset itself nicely fits into your hand, its size is traditional (87x45x23.5 mm), the weight does not raise any questions (92 grams). It is supposed that the phone will be available in two different color solutions, although only one of them is known so far, the traditional silver. One of the designer’s special features is the external antenna, it is made narrow in order to point out small thickness blue setting-in was placed inside it. The solution is curious, and was not encountered in any other model from this manufacturer. The soft-keys located on the phone’s sides are made with dark-blue plastic’s edgings.

The VGA-camera’s window is located above the external display, the flash is located near. Our sample had pre-retail design of front side; here you can see the way the final model will look like. Area around the camera got improved a bit, blue plastic got changed to transparent one, these are all changes.

The left side features IrDA and joined volume control button, garniture connector is located above it. Once again (it was in E600 before, although chronologically according to dates of development P510 was first) the cork which covers the connector is made of plastic and is strongly attached to the case, it is moved around groove. The denial of using rubber cork is caused by the fact that it got lost for too much times, or was just standing out above the case.

The bottom side features standard interface connector it is covered by the ordinary rubber cork (it is not attached to the case). The upper side features the hole for the strap.

The right side has two keys, one of them is dedicated to auto-opening mechanism and the other is used for the camera access.

Back cover is also the battery, it does not have backlash and is reliably fixed. The capacity of Li-Ion battery is 900 mAh(slim battery 700 mAh). Samsung claims that the phone will be able to work for 145 hours in stand by mode and up to 3.5 hours in talking mode. We were testing this model in Moscow with MTS as operator, and it worked for about 3 days with 35 minutes spent for talks and up to 30 minutes for other functions (mostly for games). It takes around 2 hours in order the battery to charge up. At the moment we do not have any information about the existence of the batteries that have bigger capacity for this model, the average time of 3 days looks attractive for this phone class.

I’d like to tell you more about the auto-opening mechanism. After holding the side key for about a second you will activate the mechanism and the phone will open smoothly. The same can be done in order to close the phone. You can answer the incoming call with this button as well, in case you had activated the necessary function in the corresponding menu. Auto-opening is not working all the time, for example when the phone is registering with the network this function is blocked, the same goes for few other situations (although you will not encounter them for too often). The time required for opening the case is slightly less than 2 seconds. If you block the phone’s cover the try to automatically open the phone will fail, but this will not lead to any sad consequences, the mechanism will still remain workable. Considering the fact that the mechanism used in T200 did not recall a wave of flame from the users, we can claim that the same situation will occur with P510, the phone is reliable.

When you open the phone (by pressing the button, of course) you will see the internal screen. It can show up to 65000 colors and has the resolution of 128x160 pixels (TFT). The screen can show up to 7 text lines and few additional service lines. The picture looks good, lively; the screen is one of the best so far on the market and is only worse than 262000 color displays from Samsung. The picture is still readable when it encounters direct sunlight, unfortunately you will be forced to forget about picture richness.

Keyboard section is made in traditional way. Keypad is formed in horizontal rows, their size is average and the buttons are convenient. The navigational key is four-positional and it has button for WAP access placed inside. However the OK button would seem more fit in this situation (this time its role is played by the right soft key, or the navigational key pressed right). The keyboard’s backlight is blue, central row is lightened the most, side keys are darker. The backlight is not seen well in all conditions. Indoors with good lighting conditions will result symbols being hardly readable.


The phone’s functionality is completely similar to E600, the difference is slightly noticeable. Well, actually the phone itself is very similar to the rest of Samsung products, although it has its own advantage. The main number is indexed, this means that fast number navigation is supported..

The navigational key provides access to various menu functions, if you lean it on the left you will access the Messages menu, right will lead you to ring tones and down will give you access to Games, up – for camera.

Phone book. The phone book can be accessed by pressing the left soft-key from the stand by mode. You will instantly access the list of items, where the first one is “Search”. The phone can show both SIM-card’s and phone’s phone books at once. If you are entering new contact to the phone’s memory – you can assign several numbers to contact (cellular, home phone, work, fax, other), as well as the e-mail and internet homepage. The group can be defined as well. The phone supports 10 fully customized groups. The customization includes the change of title, custom sound for SMS messages and custom pictures. Up to 1000 entries can be stored in the phone’s memory.

The viewing of a certain name is made nicely, you can see all numbers at once and choose the one you need in order to make a call. The phone book menu features a list of fast dialing keys (up to 8 numbers).

And now – the major change that is so far unique feature of Samsung’s phones. This phone has the Photo Call function; this means that the photo can be assigned to one of the numbers from the phone book. Samsung made this function alike a similar one in Motorola. You can set a picture for any number; this means that if an entry has more than 1 phone number, each of them can have its own custom picture. However, only photos can be assigned, the pictures can’t be. Unlike Motorola’s phones, you can’t bind a ring tone as well, the only thing that can be done with a custom ring tone – is setting it for a group.

Messages. This phone supports EMS, and joined messages as well (up to 918 symbols). As a result we get a set of small pics (22 of them), animations (24 of them) and little melodies that can be implied in the message’s body. Phone’s memory can store up to 200 messages besides SIM-card’s memory (20 more).

You can access the sub-menu in order to change the input language while you are typing an SMS. The predictive text input is supported for all languages that can be chosen as your phone’s language.

MMS. Multimedia messages are separated from the ordinary SMS, unlike the other models E600 features simplified interface. You are free to create several slides, the size limit is 100kb, and 45kb for an incoming one. Overall amount of memory dedicated to MMS – 1400kb.

Call list. Everything is traditional here; we get a list of received, dialed and missed calls with date and time stored for each entry. Each list can store 20 entries. The call timers lack the common time of incoming and outgoing calls even though there is a separate timer for each.

Sounds. The phone has 64-tone polyphonic ring tones, it sounds rather nice. There are several ring tone types, including ring tone only, vibrating alert only and the vibrating alert followed by the ring tone one. Other settings are standard, it’s a choice for the SMS alarm tone, MMS alarm tone, setup of minute beep during the talk, silent mode (vibrating alert only or nothing at all).

Settings. This menu allows setting up welcome message; however the display settings deserve a bigger attention. For example you can setup an animation for your wallpaper (the phone has 5 preinstalled ones). The font's style in the stand by mode can be customized as well.

An interesting fact is that you can setup the backlight for various periods (from 15 seconds up to 10 minutes). The maximum amount of time was made for those who like to play games that don’t require any action within a several minute period.

Organizer. You can enter a note instantly; the maximum length is 40 symbols for each. There aren’t separate categories for the entries. You just enter the note for definite day and that’s it. Several appointments can be assigned with one and the same date. Fast access to the needed date is present. Calendar can show current month as well.

The phone has world time function present, however it doesn’t have anything special. The same can be told about the calculator and the unit converter.

The alarm clock can be set for definite days of the week. You can also activate special function when the alarm clock will still be active even if the phone is turned off.

To-do list allows defining priorities for the entries, everything is rather typical.

Network Settings. Settings related to call forwarding and stuff like that is located here. An interesting fact is that this phone is actually tri-band and not dual band, as the manual says.

Fun Box. WAP-browser v1.2.1 is located here. The phone supports GPRS (4+2) which makes the surfing nice and comfortable.

Sounds, images and photos are located in the Sounds and Images folder correspondingly. About 600 Kb memory can be used for games.

Four games are pre-installed in this phone, they are: BubbleSmile (my favorite variation of bubbles), Fun2Link (logical game), Ultimate Golf, Mobile Chess. These games can not be deleted from the phone’s memory. About 500 Kb memory can be used for games.

Camera. This phone has VGA camera on board. This part of the phone would not be worth mentioning, unless it had something new, and so it happened. From now on working with the camera became a lot easier, thanks to the rebuilt interface. You don’t have to access menu in order to change something, the main functions are available right from the shooting mode (when the picture is displayed on the screen). You are free to setup contrast level, zoom it (8x digital zoom), change the resolution. Timer and frames (a rich set of them), effects (negative, sepia, grayscale, poster) are present as well. This phone supports MultiShot function, there are two speeds available: normal and fast. While using either of these series 6, 9 and 15 pictures can be made.

The camera supports following resolutions – VGA (640x480), QVGA (320x240), QQVGA (160x120), Mobile (176x120). Four quality types are available (Economy, Normal, Fine, Super Fine). Five megabytes are dedicated for picture needs; the average VGA size picture with Normal quality occupies around 30-40kb. The quality is practically the same as the camera in E700 had.

Integrated flash is in reality a lamp of backlight, it is activated by one or two pressures. Photos taken in the darkness became a little bit better. But in my opinion this flash is just an extra feature, in general it is not very important.

You can activate camera in the closed phone mode, flash and zoom are also accessible. But it is not possible to deacivate camera mode when the phone is closed, you should open it to do it.

The thumbnails can be viewed from the photo album. As to the pictures transfer to PC, it can be done via special software that is not yet available.

Besides taking pictures you have the ability to record short video clips (30 seconds, w/o sound, Motion JPEG). The video clips share the same memory, as the pictures do. However I didn’t manage to transfer the clips to PC, since there is no required software around, and direct transfer via IrDA is not supported (the same thing goes with photos). Video clip’s quality is nice, and it suits perfectly as an additional function. Although the picture remains rather shaky.

Photos, 320õ240 pixels
Photos, 640õ480 pixels
25 pictures stored in archive (ZIP, 675 Kb)


The phone offers traditionally stable quality of network, the sound remains clear in the speaker without any side-noises. Speaker’s volume is enough in most of situations, except for discos, but this is the place where all phones fail, such task are too hard to get on with for them. The phone has 64-tone polyphonic ring tone, it sounds softly and loud, which is more important. The difference between 40-tone polyphonic ring tones from Samsung will be noticeable only when you compare the phones with each other and holding them near, you will not be able to different them just by your memory.

Unique features can be considered automatic-opening mechanism as well as continuously working external OLED-display. In my opinion exactly this display is a great advantage in this model, and remains its most attractive side. Auto-opening mechanism is interesting, but is more like a fashion feature, instead of really useful one. Sometimes it is easier and faster to open the phone manually. On the other hand in case you get used to open the phone by pressing a button the external effect will be guaranteed, the people will start drawing their attention to this phone.

The model’s design is made in classical clamshell style of Samsung phone, but it is quite modest as well, and is targeted for mass auditory. In my opinion main consumers of this device will be men (up to 80%), but part of the sales will belong to women, who will get attracted by P510’s unique features.

The presence of VGA-camera is typical for such type of phone; however the flash still remains something non-expanded. Its presence is just a small plus, it will not add more quality to the most of pictures made in the dark. It should be considered as additional feature, and that’s it. Choosing the phone because of its camera is silly, you should consider it as additional feature and that’s it. Since the internal screen is really nice the pictures look good on it, it’s an advantage. Another nice feature is that you can bind photos to the phone book entries. Video recording is an additional feature as well (once again we talk about the quality).

The phone is pretty-well balanced, although it does not offer any overfunctionality, or bigger amount of business functions (organizer, remote synchronization, Bluetooth). The phone is targeted for the user who is used to clamshell phones and requires normal realization of basic features as well as some additional features (camera, good phone book). The P510 will ideally suit these people, especially considering its unique functions. At the moment it does not have any analogues, so it is referred to the usual and fashion segments. Such different features are nicely mixed in Samsung P510, and this means that the model will not become a mass one, and will remain more like a niche solution. Its sales will be significantly lower as the ones for E700, but higher than S100 had. Some sort of checkpoint solution. Such model will be in demand in case the price will remain stable, the demand will be stable as well. The phone will be released in May (in case no delays that are traditional for Samsung will occur), its price will be around 450-500 dollars during the first time. Later on the price will decrease to 380-425 dollars.

Ring tone samples (mp3, 380 kb)

Eldar Murtazin (eldar@mobile-review.com)
Translated by Alexander "Lexx" Zavoloka(alexander.zavoloka@mobile-review.com)

Published — 15 March 2004

Have something to add?! Write us... eldar@mobile-review.com



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