The entry-level mobile phone in Samsung's Icon range, the Preston Icon is an affordable handset that boasts a responsive touch screen and a zippy and user-friendly interface thanks to TouchWIZ UI.
The Samsung Preston Icon is one of the more compact touch-screen mobile phones we've seen. Its attractive thanks to a gloss black finish on the front, and dark grey plastic casing on the rear. Don't be fooled by the largely plastic body — the Samsung Preston Icon feels solid and well-built for an entry-level mobile phone; in our opinion it is more stylish than the Samsung F480.
As well as the 2.8in touch screen, the Preston Icon has answer and end call keys and a large selection button. The selection button looks like a five-way navigational pad but is just a single button. Its main use is as a back key when navigating menus. External volume controls, a screen-lock button and a dedicated camera key are also present. The capacitive touch screen is bright and clear, and it was responsive throughout use.
The Samsung Preston Icon runs Samsung's proprietary OS and features the company's TouchWIZ UI, also seen on the Samsung Omnia Icon. TouchWIZ provides a three-page home screen, with a big focus on widgets. A row of widgets sits on the left edge of each screen and users simply press and drag icons from the panel to the main area to use a widget. Each of the three home screen pages is customisable. As an example, we added clock and calendar widgets to the first screen; Google, Facebook and YouTube widgets to the second; and shortcuts to the third. A striking feature of the Preston Icon is its speed — we didn't experience any lag or slowdown.
The widgets aren't labelled in the sidebar, so it's hard to distinguish what many of them do without adding them to the screen. Additionally, the Facebook, YouTube and MySpace widgets are merely links to the Web page of each service rather than dedicated apps. Other nice touches to the Samsung UI include a rolodex of frequent contacts with photos that's available through the main menu, and Samsung's smart unlock feature. This lets you unlock the phone by drawing a letter of the alphabet on the lock screen. You can assign any letter from A to Z to open a number of apps including messaging, music and the Web browser.
The Preston Icon is responsive and intuitive when typing text messages or e-mails, though we would have liked to a full QWERTY keyboard when the phone is tilted sideways. The on-screen numeric keyboard with T9 predictive text input is comfortable, though the positioning of the space button on the right side instead of using the 0, # or * keys is a negative.
As a multimedia mobile phone, the Samsung Preston Icon is let down by the lack of a standard 3.5mm headphone jack. This is a real shame as the phone has a capable music player that supports multiple file formats, an FM radio and a 3.2-megapixel camera with LED flash. There is also a handy music recognition application, similar to the iPhone app Shazam, and Sony Ericsson's TrackID service.
The Samsung Preston Icon is a HSDPA 7.2Mbps device, and it has Bluetooth and USB connectivity (using a standard micro-USB connection) and a microSD card slot for extra storage. There is no GPS or Wi-Fi, but at this price point neither of these features is expected.
The Samsung Preston Icon is available on Crazy John’s, Telstra and Virgin Mobile.