Our lovely friends at Samsung were nice enough to give iMobile.com.au both the Samsung E720 and brand new E730 handsets at the same time, allowing us for a detailed side-by-side review. The E720 and E730 handsets are very similar except for a few features, and of course a major physical upgrade in the E730 model. Both handsets are some of Samsung’s finest work yet - with the latest features in tasteful designs.
The E730 is branded the “Fifth Fantastic” by Samsung, as it was released alongside the movie premiere. The E730 has not been officially released yet (at the time of this article), so the handset I received was a prototype. That said, some issues with the E730 discussed in this article may have been resolved when the final product goes to market. There may be some minor feature changes too – but we’ll make sure the article stays as up-to-date as we can!
The E720 on the other hand has been out for some time here in Australia, so features are unlikely to change.
There is two ways to look at this section of the article – what’s changed from the E720 to the E730, and what’s new/outstanding with both handsets. It seems only right to talk about the latter first; that is what’s new and outstanding in the E730 and E720 handsets that’s going to draw in the consumer.
Both handsets have internal 262k colour displays, and external 65k colour displays, perfect for clamshell handsets. Finally making the move from VGA digital cameras, both the E720 and E730 handsets have 1.0+mpx digital cameras with MPEG4 video recording capabilities.
One other feature of the E720 and E730 is the media capabilities – Samsung have labelled both handsets under the MP3 category – and both handsets have dedicated MP3 keys on the front of the handset.
The only “new” features on the E720 and E730 are the Megapixel cameras. Although not entirely “new” as such, they are still new from the Samsung point of view – but not the first Megapixel camera phones from the brand. The E720 has a 1mpx digital camera (up to 1152 x 846 pixels), and the E730 has a better 1.3mpx digital camera (1280 x 1024 pixels maximum). This is great in current standards, with some phone still using VGA cameras! Both handsets have LED flash lights, with the E720 having more LED’s (and therefore more produced light) built in.
The E720 has a large internal memory of 80mB, with the E730 once again coming in better with a whole 92mB of internal memory. This is quite sufficient for MP3’s and a Megapixel camera, if there was some external memory support. Unfortunately this is one thing both the E720 and E730 handsets lack!
Although very similar, the E720 and E730 are also very different, so I’ve decided to divide this into two different sections.
The E720’s colour scheme is more “playful” than that of the E730, with a silver and blue theme used throughout. The front of the E720 houses the external LCD (96 x 96), camera lens and LED photo light, and media function keys in the single silver panel, with the surrounding a navy blue colour. This panel at the front protrudes slightly from the rest of the handset, whereas the E730 is more streamlined.
Take a look at a couple of the pictures of the open E720. You’ll notice it doesn’t open like a regular clamshell, but it’s quite hard to explain. The top section of the E720 isn’t as directly attached to the hinge as your average clamshell; there is a small dip in the section that attaches to the hinge from the display. This allows the E720 to be rounded at the top when closed, but also increases the length of the handset.
The buttons of the E720 are arranged in three vertical rows, with a small gab in between each row. The navigational key and OK button is located in a hexagon-like shape above the three rows. I found that the buttons of the E720 do not depress enough, which can be annoying particularly when messaging, you have to apply a little bit of extra force in the centre of the button or else it will not be recognized by the handset and your messages will end up gobbledy-gook!
The E720 has two holographic labels, the first is under the mini-LCD and the second is just below the main LCD. They change colour when viewed in different lighting angles – blue, purple, green, yellow, and red and any combination of the colours could be seen.
Two small pieces of rubber below the keypad protect the precious display from hitting the keys and causing any damage. On the subject of damage, the interface port at the bottom of the E720 and the headset port on the right hand side both have hard plastic protectors which are attached securely to the handset and cannot be removed.
At 90 x 45 x 23 mm and 90grams, the E720 is the larger of the two handsets – although not by much and it’s most certainly not a big issue. The battery of the E720 isn’t silver like the rest of the handset, nor is it the navy blue on the front panel. It’s black and attaches straight into the back of the handset, there is no battery cover or other removable parts. A small wrist strap hole is located in the middle top of the E720 and E730 handsets.
The E730 is probably the more attractive handset, in my opinion. Black is a much more appealing colour, and gives the E730 individuality. The simple use of plain silver external buttons is a treat for the eyes. The only problem with this colour and the type of material used on the E730 is that it is very prone to fingerprints, and general daily use will render it quite dirty. A wipe with a tissue or even your finger will bring it back to normal.
The E730 is thinner than the E720, at total dimensions 87 x 44 x 23 mm. The handset also weighs slightly less at 88grams. The E730 has been downgraded from the E720 though as it has a smaller LCD on the front (80 x 64) – although only by a few pixels. The outside of the E730 (under the display) has the same three buttons as the E720, back, play/pause, and forward. The left hand side of the E730 has the volume keys and the earphone jack, and the right side has the dedicated camera key.
The E730 is much rounder than the E720, mainly noticeable at the top and bottom of the handsets. The overall keypad “plate” is also much rounder, unlike the E720 which is very square. The keypad on the E730 has less space in between the keys, and the keys are much more tactile. They are much easier to press than those of the E720, although judging by eye are they almost exactly the same size. The keys on the E730 are silver, not chrome, which doesn’t leave marks. The navigational key differs from the others as it is black with the main OK key in the centre being silver.
The SAMSUNG logo beneath the display on the E730 is holographic just like the E730. The same logo underneath the external LCD is also holographic. This gives it a more professional (without becoming tacky) look. There are two small rubber stoppers at the bottom of the keypad which ensure that the display doesn’t come into harsh contact with the keypad, saving you from scratches!
One thing I really liked about both the E730 and the E720 is that they both have protectors for any of the connection ports. Both handsets have headset ports and the charging/interface ports covered by a hard plastic attached by thinner and more flexible plastic, allowing you to remove and plug in an accessory without hassle. This keeps any other material out of the ports and gives the handsets a finished look with all sections covered.
Although the E730 was slightly lighter, I felt like the handset was stronger than the E720 and it felt more solid in hand. Both handsets have excellent build quality and the hinge on both handsets was secure and strong. No complaints here!
The E730, like the E720, has no removable covers or plates. The only removable section is the battery, which has the same finish as the back of the handset. It is easily removed by pushing up the small tab on the back of the handset and inserting your fingernail into the side of the handset and lifting the battery out. The battery will only go in one way as it is shaped like the rest of the handset – you’ll never get it wrong.
User Interface & display
The Samsung E720 and E730 both use the same operating system, although some minor features the E730 has and the E720 does, and vice versa; for example the E720 has a different icon than the E730 for “File Manager”, and the E720 shows a file count when you hover over a file type, both minor features which the E730 doesn’t. Both handsets also have the same internal LCD display, but the external mini-LCD on the E730 has reduced in size. The E720 handset I received was running E720DXEC1_T1 (March 2005 Revision 1 firmware) and the E730 I received was running E730DXEE3 (April 2005 Revision 3 firmware).
The internal LCD’s of the E720/E730 handsets is a 176 x 220 pixel display with support for 262,144 colours. This size is the generally accepted “new” size, and almost every handset released in the last year has this same size or larger. The display size is perfect for capturing images with the Megapixel digital camera, viewing video and general day-to-day use of the handsets. The external LCD on the E720 is a 96 x 96 pixel LCD with 65,536 colours and on the E730 the display measures only 80 x 64 pixels with the same colour depth.
The E720/E730’s user interface is operated with the use of the 5-way navigational key, and two soft keys. The navigational is used mostly; the two soft keys are used less often. The main menu is launched by pressing the left soft key when the handset is idle. The main menu is an 8-icon board with small animated icons, with a text label at the top of the screen. The icons become animated when the cursor is placed on them, which you can then open by pushing the middle of the navigational key. As with some Windows-based handsets, the Samsung E720/E730’s have a number next to each option when you open a main menu icon. You can press the assigned number for the function you want on the keypad without having to scroll around. For example to go straight to your inbox you could press the left soft key, ‘5’, ‘2’, and ‘1’.
The “desktop” of the E720/E730 displays everything you need to know in an organized, professional manner. A section at the top of the screen shows the reception level, any other indicators (Bluetooth, alarm clock, active profile, and so on) and also the battery level. A section below this displays the data and time. The service operator name is displayed at the bottom of screen along with the two soft key labels. Your own wallpaper can be selected from the file manager for both the main LCD and mini-LCD. Images taken with the Megapixel camera’s of the E720/E730 handsets look great when used as wallpapers.
The mini-LCD displays reception level, battery status, and active profile in small icons at the top of the display. On the E720 you can select a clock type to be shown (there are several in the gallery) or use your own wallpaper. The E730 can display wallpaper from the gallery, the clock, or a small text image. So you don’t accidentally start the camera or the MP3 player when the handset is shut, a key lock feature is incorporated into the E720 and E730. When you try to press a button a small message will display: “Unlock?” with a rotating padlock. You then have to press a specified media key to unlock the display – which will most certainly ensure you won’t open your gallery and find forty photos of the inside of your jeans pocket.
Both handsets have “skins”, which are like basic versions of themes. They change the colour scheme of the handset (blue, green, orange, and purple). The E730 has the ability to change how the text is shown on the “desktop”: positioning, style (outline, shadow, normal), and also the colour to suit your wallpaper and skin.
A little feature of the E720 and E730 models which is a great help when you can’t get to a charger quickly is the battery saving functionality. When you are almost out of battery, the LCD backlight will not be as bright as it is when there is more battery life left. This saves the handset from dying as soon as it would, giving you enough time to reach the charger. The mini-LCD also responds by not showing your wallpaper or personal message (personal messages are E730 only).
Making and receiving calls
The E720 and E730 handsets barely differ in this region, so I’ll put them together.
The first thing that I noticed between the sisters, is the common speakerphone
feature for calls! There is no internal speakerphone with the E720! This is one feature which I see totally vital for a mobile phone in this day and age. Although the handset does have Bluetooth and a wired headset in the sales package, many people make use of the speakerphone feature on a daily basis. Moving on from that, both handsets are clamshell form factor mobile phones which have a big advantage, physically, for audio transfer to the microphone from your mouth.
The E720 and E730 can be used to make and receive calls in three ways. The first is using the
integrated microphone and holding the handset up to your ear, the other two are detailed below.
The E720 and E730 have a dedicated headset port on the left hand side of the handset, covered by a protective seal. A stereo headset can be found in the sales package for use with making and receiving calls, and also for listening to the built-in FM stereo radio. The headset has a button on it for easy answering of incoming phone calls. The microphone is built into the cord.
If you’ve moved onto the latest and greatest, and no longer rely on that wired headset, you’ll be happy to know the E720 and E730 handsets are fully compliant with the Bluetooth standard. The Samsung E720 complies with v1.1 and the E730 does with v1.2. There are no huge differences between these two versions and most Bluetooth headsets that support the Headset and/or Hands-free profiles are supported.
Both handsets support MP3 ring tones, polyphonic ring tones, and AMR ring tones. MP3 and AMR ring tones are the latest in ring tone technology and give the end user the freedom to create their own ring tones from their favourite song, their own creation and almost any sound. MP3’s and AMR ring tones come out of the E720 and E730 just as they would playing from your computer’s speakers. Yes, full vocals and instrumentals! ;) If you haven’t joined the MP3 bandwagon yet… you’re living in the past.
Volume can be changed in call or at any other time using the external keys on the left hand side of the handset. To answer the phone when it calls, you have two options. By default, the handset will pick up when you open the handset just as one would expect a clamshell to respond. The second must be changed in the settings of the handset, and will only answer a call when you press the green “accept” button inside the actual handset. Your caller will be displayed on the E720/E730’s external display.
The messaging features on the E720 and E730 are, for the most part, identical. The only changes are some feature locations, like “Broadcast Messages” being found in the main messaging menu on the E730 and not on the E720. When you launch the main menu the messaging icon (the centre icon) is automatically selected for easy access. The messaging menu has the most used features at the top, and least used features towards the bottom. That said, “Create a message” is first on the list. “My Folders” comes next, then “Templates”, and so on.
The “Create a message” window will prompt you to select what type of message – Text Message (SMS/EMS), Multimedia Message (MMS), or e-mail. The text messaging window is simple with a text box and character count at the top of the window. With the E720, to change between predictive text and the multi-tap method, you will need to hold down the * key. Pressing the * key will change between sentence case, lower case, and capital lock. On the E730, the right soft key is used to change text input method, and the * key is simply for changing case. On the E720 you must press the ‘0’ key if you are using T9 predictive text and wish to move to the next word/character. On the E730, you can press the ‘0’ key or use the down navigational key, which I found much easier. The E730 also highlights the selected word when composing, something the E720 doesn’t.
The MMS messaging window has 4 sub-sections – subject, picture and video input, sound input, and text input. This allows you to easily create your MMS elements in a straight forward, simple way. You can select picture and video from the gallery or capture video or an image specifically for your MMS message. The same goes for sounds.
The E720/E730 handsets have dedicated space set aside in the internal memory for messaging. Both handsets support up to 200 text messages, and the amount of MMS messages and e-mail that can be stored depends on the amount of free internal memory. An average SIM card should support 20-30 text messages. These two Samsung handsets come with dedicated memory monitor applications.
The “My Messages” function opens all the folders stored on the SIM card and phone memory. Inbox, Drafts, Outbox, Sent box, Email Box, and My Folder are the options. As you move the cursor over a folder a small text box will show up displaying the amount (if any) of messages inside the folder. Both SMS and MMS messages are stored in the same inbox, with e-mail messages having their own special spot.
Up to 5 e-mail accounts can be defined on the E720 and E730 handsets. The handsets support IMAP4, SMTP, and POP3 e-mail servers only, and the handset can be used to send and receive e-mails. With T9 predictive text and GPRS Class 10 connectivity, you can reply to an urgent e-mail within seconds. The handsets even have a block list section, which allows you to define who you do and don’t want e-mails from!
I found that the E720 handset, as I’ve previously mentioned, took quite some time to get used to the key design because of the material used. The keys are very hard and don’t depress enough into the handset, and without more-than-usual force the button’s wont press in properly. This problem is rectified in the E730 as the buttons are reasonably “softer”, and depress into the handset more.
In regards to software lag, that I know everyone hates when messaging, you’ll be glad to know I experienced little lag on both the Samsung E720 and E730 handsets. My messaging experience was only better on the E730 because of the keypad used on the E720; but you can get used to this as I did. Both handsets support the full range of messaging options: SMS/EMS, MMS, and e-mail messaging so you’ll never be left out in the dark! ;)
The Samsung E720 and E730 handsets both have Bluetooth Wireless Connectivity, USB high-speed data and GPRS Class 10. There is no infrared support on either of the handsets. Both have a fully featured file browser application, which displays thumbnails of images and video’s stored on the internal memory, and much more. The E720 has 80MB of internal memory for storage, and the E730 has a total of 92MB internal memory. Neither have the ability to increase the memory in terms of an expansion slot.
If you wish to send a file (or files) via Bluetooth to a handset or Bluetooth compatible device in range, it’s quite simple. Fire up the file browser and select the file you wish to send – be it an image, video, or other file. Click the options key, then press “Share for Bluetooth”. If you are using the E720 you can then select either “selected”, which will send only the file you selected, or “select files” – which will open a window where you can select a number of files, or “share all” – making all files available for transfer. “Release all” which un-share the files.
On the E730 the menu’s have changed slightly – once you press “share for Bluetooth”, you can then make a choice between “selected” (you can select more than one files), or “all” which will share everything in the opened folder.
To activate Bluetooth on the E730, open the Settings menu and select the Bluetooth sub-menu. You can activate/deactivate the service, view your devices, alter visibility, change the handset’s Bluetooth name, activate secure mode, and view the services available. The same goes for the E720 handset.
I experienced no problems what-so-ever when using Bluetooth on the E720 and E730 Samsungs’. I connected them both to each other, Bluetooth headsets, and also some Nokia handsets. I could transfer files between each other and the Nokia’s without any glitches, it was very straight forward.
The GPRS Class 10 service on the E720 and E730 is the protocol of choice for MMS and e-mail messaging, and WAP browsing. The E720/E730 handsets have a WAP 2.0 compliant browser for media-rich pages including sounds and animations – which display brilliantly on the internal 262,144 colour display. GPRS settings on the E720 are found under the main “Settings” menu and then the “Connection Settings” sub-menu. On the E730 move to the Browser and then select “Profile Settings.”
I found that the E730’s battery life was much less than that of the Samsung E720. The battery seemed to decrease much faster on the E730, considering both handsets have similar features and the same 3.7V Lithium-ion battery pack. When you take a look at Samsung’s battery life estimates:
E720: 5.5hours talk time and 200 hours standby time
E730: 5 hours talk time and 260 hours standby time
It seems odd that the E730’s battery life decreased more than that of the E720. That said if you recharge when the battery life is at its minimum and recharge to the maximum level, you’ll be recharging every 2-3days with average use. The camera and especially the LED’s on the E720 will consume more battery life and decrease these time estimates.
A little bit of trivia though – the E720 and E730 both use different battery chargers! I was confused when I was given two different chargers for what is basically the same handset. The E730’s charger is smaller than the E720’s – and the E720’s charger has a LED light to indicate charging!