Samsung has been gracing us with occasional entries in its rugged line of phones for a few years now.
The latest, the Solid Immerse, or the B2710 if you prefer, is this solid slab of candybar non-smartphone, which promises to be waterproof, shock-proof and dust-proof, as well as offering a range of outdoors-style features. It’s got no real pretentions to be an entertainment device – it’s more of a survival tool.
Design and build
As rugged phones go, the Solid Immerse certainly has the look. It’s chunky, bumpy and, well, solid-looking, with its heavy rubberised plastic casing and metal trim. It measures a bulky looking 121 x 52 x 18mm and 116g and will easily fill a pocket, but then this isn’t a phone that’s designed to be discreet.
It has a volume rocker on the side along with a microUSB charge/sync slot which doubles as a port for the supplied headphones. This is covered by a heavy plastic grommet to keep out dust and it sits next to a large button for the built-in torch.
No moonlighting camera flash here, the Solid Immerse has a proper torch, with the LED bulb sitting at the top of the phone, along with a large loop so you can hang it from a lanyard.
The battery cover is held in place by a single large metal screw on the back which can be removed using a coin. Also on the back is the lens for the 2-megapixel camera (no flash) and a large loudspeaker protected by a plastic grille and a section of mesh.
The keypad is covered by a rubbery membrane with large, can’t-miss keys which make it practical to use even if you’re on a frost-bitten mountainside, wearing gloves.
The 2in screen is hardly designed for watching films, but the small size helps to keep it tough and less prone to breakages if it gets knocked around (in theory at least). It offers a functional but not very sharp 320 x 240-pixel QVGA resolution and doesn’t cope well with sunlight, reflecting energetically at the first sign of a few rays. A shame, since it’s intended to be used outdoors.
Interface and OS
The Solid Immerse isn’t a smartphone, and uses Samsung’s standard graphic interface, which is reasonably intuitive, with a look similar to its smartphone TouchWiz interface, though the screen isn’t touch sensitive.
The 2-megapixel camera is just about as basic as you’re likely to find these days. If you’re going to the great outdoors you’d be advised to take another camera to keep a record of your trip.
There’s no flash, a rudimentary 1.2x digital zoom and white balance the only setting you can play around with. Picture quality is perfunctory at best though it can deliver okay quality still shots if you’re careful with the light.
It can record video though only at 15fps and the quality is low enough that it should really only be considered for emergencies only.
Apps and browser
The torch is certainly bright enough to read a map by at night, and even to light the way immediately in front of you. It starts with a long press to the dedicated button on the side, but usefully you can shut it off again quickly with a single short press.
There’s no Wi-Fi on board but there is 3G connectivity as well as Bluetooth for hooking up to a wireless headset or for swapping media.
Syncing with a PC can be done using Samsung’s Kies software, or simple drag and drop to add music, pics or videos. The 15MB of onboard memory won’t hold much, though you can add up to 16GB via microSD card.
There’s no map application supplied as standard, though you can download Google Maps via a link in the Applications menu. Once you’ve got it the phone’s AGPS system seemed to work fine, pinpointing our position in a little under 20 seconds, though the small size of the screen tends to mean a lot of scrolling when you’re on the move.
Other outdoors-related apps include a digital compass, which worked fine and a basic pedometer which tells you how far and how fast you’re going, as well as a timer and a stop watch. There are a few basic games on board too which might keep you amused for a few minutes, and there are more available from the Samsung Apps store.
There are Facebook and Twitter apps on board too so you can keep up with your social networking while you’re out in the wilds, though there’s no option for automatically updated feeds.
Media and connectivity
The media player will play MP3 and MPEG4 files, which just about covers the basics for audio and video and there’s an FM radio too, for which you’ll need to plug in the muddy-sounding supplied headphones to act as an aerial. The lack of a 3.5mm headphone jack means you’re probably stuck with them too unless you can pick up a better set that use a microUSB connection.
Performance and battery life
Despite appearances, sad to say the Solid Immerse didn’t quite live up to its rugged reputation. When we dropped it from a height of about three metres onto a hard surface, the back came loose, though it didn’t actually break.
The screen too didn’t match up to the key test, where we scratched it with a set of keys to simulate the kind of abuse it might meet in a pocket. Despite Samsung’s claims of ‘4H’ hardness, a rating which states it’s supposed to be scratch resistant, it scratched at almost the first rasp, though again, it didn’t actually break.
It fared better in the water test, remaining immersed and working fine after two solid minutes underwater.
Battery life from the compact 1300mAh held up well compared to Samsung’s claims of 610 hours of standby and 870 minutes of talk time, delivering a little over five days of moderate use before needing a top-up.
- Waterproof, shock-proof, dust-proof
- Decent torch
- aGPS and digital compass
- Not quite as tough as it looks
- Terrible camera
- No Wi-Fi
Verdict: Samsung’s Solid Immerse prides itself on its rugged credentials, but though it talks the talk, it doesn’t quite walk the walk, falling down in our abuse tests for screen strength and casing robustness.
More info: Samsung Solid Immerse spec
Price: From free on contract; £100 SIM-free