Targeted at young people interested in social networking while on the move, Samsung's S3653 is an entry-level touch-screen mobile phone. Featuring interesting styling and replaceable, snap-on rear covers, the Samsung S3653 offers plenty of features for its target market. However, the lack of 3G connectivity is inexcusable.
The Samsung S3653 mobile phone has a distinctive design with a curved back; this makes it comfortable to hold, but it rocks slightly from side to side when placed on a flat surface.
Most of the Samsung S3653's front is taken up by a large 2.8in capacitive touch screen. Below the screen sit answer and end call buttons as well as a large back button. The positioning of back button is a little strange; it's where you'd normally expect a menu button or a navigational key. External volume controls on the left and hold and camera keys on the right round out the controls.
The S3653 borrows much inspiration from Samsung's Icon range of mobile phones, especially the Preston Icon and the Jet Icon. It runs Samsung's proprietary OS and features the company's TouchWIZ UI. TouchWIZ provides a three-page home screen and has 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.
An advantage the Samsung S3653 has over the rest of the Icon range is its social networking apps, particularly Facebook and Twitter. The Icon handsets just have basic links to the Web pages, but the S3653 has dedicated Facebook, MySpace and Twitter applications. You can update your status and Tweet from the phone's home screen.
Unfortunately, the S3653's lack of 3G connectivity is a real downside. Although in most instances a 2G network connection is enough to quickly update your status, browsing through photos, for example, will occur at a snail's pace.
Samsung's UI is reasonably intuitive but not without its faults. 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. Thankfully, the interface feels snappy — we didn’t experience any lag or slowdown and there was also no keystroke lag when using the on-screen keyboard.
The Samsung S3653 uses a standard numeric keypad layout with T9 support. It's responsive and easy to use when typing but the positioning of the space button on the right side is awkward. It lacks a QWERTY keyboard and there is no accelerometer, so the orientation of the display doesn't change when you turn the handset sideways.
The S3653 includes photo contacts — 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.
As a multimedia mobile phone, the Samsung S3653 is let down by the lack of a standard 3.5mm headphone jack. This hinders both the music player and the included FM radio, as the included headphones lack bass and don’t sound as crisp or clear as they should.
The Samsung S3653 has a 3.2-megapixel camera with LED flash, a handy music recognition application similar to the iPhone app Shazam and Sony Ericsson's TrackID service, and a microSD card slot for extra storage. The card slot is annoyingly located under the battery cover, but this is not difficult to remove. The S3653 includes Bluetooth and USB connectivity, though the latter uses a proprietary Samsung port. There is no GPS or Wi-Fi, but at this price point neither of these features is expected.
The Samsung S3653 is available exclusively through Boost Mobile for $179 on a prepaid plan.
Stay up to date with the latest reviews. Sign up to GoodGearGuide’s Gear Daily newsletters
Follow GoodGearGuide on Twitter: @Goodgearguide