Few phones are available on contract these days that fulfill the needs of those of us who do not want or need a smartphone, but still want something a little classier than the basic £30 phones hiding in the back of the tech section's shelves at the supermarket.
Samsung have thankfully recognised this and introduced the Utopia, more formally known as the GT-S5611. This is a featurephone - the new industry name for the type of mobile phone we all used before the advent of the smartphone.
While there isn't a lot here that hasn't gone before, Samsung have produced a decent quality mobile phone that will suit those of you looking for a basic everyday phone with a touch of class but without all the bells and whistles of the smartphone genre.
Quality, metal clad case
This impressive handset includes a metal framed case which looks and feels solid and at just over 12mm thick. It feels so good to hold that it makes you wonder how we arrived in a place in time where smartphones somehow need to be as thin as a razor.
It reminds you of a time when you could easily grip a phone rather than have to pinch 7 or 8mm between your fingers to grip it. At just 91 grams, or under three and a quarter ounces in "old money", it's nice and light too.
The large keypad is simple to use and typing texts means going back to the T9 predictive text system - no onscreen keyboards here. In fact this isn't a touchscreen phone, everything is done via the classic keypad, with 4 rows of numbered buttons on horizontal strips, with a chrome slightly raised bar seperating each one.
Above these buttons are the main call and end buttons, and two menu buttons just below the screen. These four keys surround the centrally placed 4-way selection pad and enter button, ensuring you will find the Samsung Utopia extremely simple and intuitive to use.
Strong and sharp TFT screen
The 2.4 inch screen is of the TFT style, perfectly suited to this type of phone, with strong colours and sharp, clear text. Internet pages and emails can be clearly read with ease, although you should note that Wi-Fi isn't on board, and web access will be via your network's 3G signal.
The lack of Wi-Fi is a reminder that this isn't a phone for power users but the 7.2 megabytes per second transfer rate means that pages still load quickly and smoothly, ably assisted by the 0.5 GHz processor which is more than enough power for a phone of this type, ensuring snappy operation throughout.
Fully featured 5 megapixel camera
You get a 5 megapixel camera with autofocus and LED flash and the photos are actually better than we have seen on many similar sized smartphone cameras, though you will need to transfer them to a larger screen to appreciate the quality properly.
It's easy enough to transfer your photos and even music via the USB cable included in the box, which also charges the phone via a wall charger (also included) or your computer's USB socket. You can also play and record video.
Stereo FM radio and music player
The Samsung Utopia features full audio credentials, with a built in stereo FM radio with RDS which displays the station name, and a fully featured music player.
You can listen to the radio or your own music through the loudspeaker, or via the wired headphone set included in the box*, or by using a set of Bluetooth headphones or speakers. you can even record from the FM radio.
(* may be market dependent)
Memory card slot and more features
The 256MB of internal storage isn't particularly generous but you can add a memory card with a capacity right up to 16GB, which will hold thousands of tracks. This will also be useful for holding your voice memo notes.
Additional features are typical of what we have come to expect over the years, including calculator, converter, world clock, alarms, handsfree speakerphone, MP3 ringtones.
A currency converter and personal organiser add to the Utopia's credentials, and all of these features can be used in flight mode while you listen to your music or view your photos or video clips.
While there is nothing particularly special or exciting here, at least for those of us used to playing with smartphones, this is a solid, reliable handset which does everything you need it to and nothing you don't.
It looks good, is very well made, easy to use and should survive several years' rough and tumble with ease.
Ideal as a second phone for work or play, or perfect for those who simply need a good reliable handset without having to break the bank, the Samsung Utopia GT-S5611 represents excellent value for money.
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