This is an amazing phone! I purchased this to replace my Blackberry 9700 because it was starting to act crazy. It got to the point where the phone would freeze when a call came through only to unfreeze when the caller hung up. Finally fed up I chose to get this device. Originally I was not interested in this phone because I was still scarred from the G1 experience and wanted nothing more to do with Android. After my friends found out I was intensely looking into the HTC HD7 they worked diligently to change my mind and steer me back to Android. This smartphone does everything and more. I will be as detailed as possible about this device.
When I received the package I found that it was very well put together. The box, of course, was open because the dealer needed to remove the sim card and to unlock the phone. Otherwise the phone was pristine and looked like I had ordered it from Tmobile. The items that were included was the phone, travel charger extender, data wire, battery, 16 GB micro sd card, Samsung premium in-ear earphones, and the manuals. One thing I did not like about the charger was that there is not a wire attached to the travel portion so you have to always use the data cable to charge the phone. This looks like it's the norm for this line of phones, so no quality loss on behalf of the dealer, just simply Samsung's poor designing. The back of the phone is a little flimsier than I would like, but that's all opinion. The weight of the phone is not heavy at all but is so sturdy that one would think that a metal back would make it a little classier. I have the Samsung Behold as well, much cheaper than this phone, and it has a really nice metal-like back on it. Overall, however, the packaging was very professional.
The screen on the phone is a four inch super amoled screen. The colors are very vibrant and crisp with no visible pixelation.
I have Tmobile unlimited prepaid service, which is $70 a month. I had absolutely no issues in getting service started. I live in an area where my blackberry constantly stayed between edge and 3G, never fully 3G service so I had no high hopes for this device. However, I was pleasantly surprised when I installed my sim that the indicator was telling me that I was on the 4G network. I have been on this network all day and it has not dropped bars and has remained a steady 4G so I am thrilled about that. The HSPA+ service definitely works and the connections are extremely fast. No issues in that department.
I had a little difficulty setting up my email addresses on the phone. I tried fruitlessly when I first turned the phone on to activate my yahoo accounts and the server kept stating that it was not available and could not process my request. I gave up for a few hours and tried again and it did connect. If email is important to you, it may be a slight headache to activate but will run smoothly when it's actually configured. I found that I needed to set up a gmail account in order to use the Marketplace. While it is not necessary to have a gmail account to access the OS upon first turning the phone on (like the G1), you should take into account that to use this feature you will have to create an account. I still have not synced my student email to the phone because it's asking for features I do not have (domain). In comparison the Blackberry 9700 allowed me to sync my school account with no issues and never asked for a domain. I just input the email address and password and off I went. This is a slight annoyance but not the end of the world.
Messaging is pretty standard here. The setup and the color scheme makes it enticing to look at and operates beautifully. There are two keyboards on the phone: Swype and Samsung. I am not much on swyping because I kept making mistakes and that is slightly agitating. I changed the keyboard to Samsung standard and my headache of texting went away!
I found that there were no issues on the calls that I placed. I heard no static, the calls didn't drop and that's all one could ask for. This phone does support WiFi calls. I made a few calls on WiFi and also found no issues in the quality.
It took me less than a minute to sync my Bluetooth with this phone. The phone found the device in about five seconds, found the password OTA and entered it for me and then connected. I was shocked at how fast and effortless it was.
The internet browser is really decent. I was able to go to every site that I attempted with no issues. This phone has adobe flash embedded in the browser so therefore you are able to view video's within various websites without the video's being attached to YouTube which is really nice.
The battery life on this phone is excellent, as far as I can tell. I charged the phone completely when I received it without turning it on to ensure that I did not destroy my battery power before I even got started. I don't know if that's a myth, but I charged first just in case it wasn't.
Overall this is a nice device and definitely worth the amount of money it's listed for. I have been looking at and reviewing the specs for weeks now and I am glad that I made this choice. I would recommend this to anyone on the Tmobile network but I cannot definitively say that this works on other GSM carriers because I was not able to test other carriers. Minus the battery charger, the back cover, and email issues I give this device a 4.5/5.0!
**Edit June 27, 2011**
This phone has a really nice, crisp, vibrant display but one problem I have found is when sitting outside in the sunlight you almost cannot see what's on the screen. For this inconvenience I am dropping this review down to a 4.0. What is the point of having a mobile device if you cannot see the screen outside which is the primary purpose of a portable phone?
Another issue I have stumbled on is that the ringtone does not always ring. There are times when I have notifications when I turn the screen on but I did not hear the tone go off. For this to be fixed you have to turn the phone off and back on. I don't know if that was just my device but that has annoyed me a little. The ringtones are also a little lower than I would like.
I have been enjoying this device, but there are some issues one cannot overlook just because I like the phone. I still recommend it however if these issues are enough to agitate you then I would find something else.
**Edit June 29, 2011**
I never reviewed the video and music player because I had not tried them at the time of the original review. I typically don't use my phone other than for what it's intended for because I have a Zune HD which is music and video ad I like to keep media seperate from my phone because of the battery power usage however I wanted to see what else this phone could do. I have .avi movies on my computer so I decided to sync some to the phone to see what the quality really looked like. I was blown away at how crisp the screen was! When listening to the movies through earphones you have the ability to listen in 5.1 surround sound and it sounds like you are in the movie theater. I really enjoyed this feature. The mp3 player was delightful as well. I listened to an entire 12 song album and viewed a 1 hour 50 minute movie on this phone without being plugged to the charger and my battery never dropped power bars. I am thrilled with the battery life in this respect and that the media on the phone does not drain it. Very nice experience!
**Edit July 5, 2011**
I took a mini trip for the 4th of July to an area in my state that normally has decent coverage on T-Mobile's network. I ran into a lot of problems with this phone when I got into this area because the phone is provisioned for HSPA+ and this area is Edge/3G, more Edge than 3G. When I tried to use my phone I continuously got dropped calls or my calls would not complete and I am not going to get started on the net service out there. Because of the phone constantly looking for a 4G connection it sucked my battery down rather quickly and my phone just wasn't working. I am glad that this was just a getaway and not where I live, however, it is imperative that if you are considering this phone that you go to [...]and check the coverage very carefully because if you are not in a 4G area there is a great chance that you will assume that the phone bites when in actuality it's the coverage, not the phone. I am not too sure about the AT&T customers and how they may fare with this issue because I do not have an AT&T sim, but I would send my advice their way also. Check the coverage at AT&T if you have that service because your sim will be hitting their cell sites.
**Edit July 9, 2011** Wireless Tethering
I know this is a lot of updates, but I am still finding new options on this phone. So, I was in the Android Marketplace wanting to find a tethering service for this phone because my Blackberry 9700 had a tethering service named Tether and it was great and useful while I was at work. I found the same app in the marketplace and attempted to download it. Much to my annoyance and dismay it was not easy to set up. I had to download something called Samsung New PC Suite which allowed you to install the device on the computer and sync music and video's to the phone. While playing around with my settings I found that I was able to plug my phone into the computer with the PC Suite, activate tethering on the phone, and connect to the internet! I was not on my wifi at the time and I was confused because my pages were still loading on my computer. I did not have to download any 3rd party tethering program (and pay for it) because this phone has a built in tethering program and no, I did not have to pay extra for that feature on the phone. Here are the steps to activating the wireless feature:
1. Download Samsung New PC Suite (preferrably an updated version) and install the program.
2. Plug the phone into the computer and wait for the drivers to install, in which case you should receive the popup in the bottom right tray that says that everything installed and you should be able to use the phone.
3. On your phone, hit the backspace key if you have a screen giving you three options which are for the Kies Firmware Update, Mass Storage, etc. After you hit the backspace key you should be back to the main screen on your phone.
4. Hit "Applications" and scroll over to "Settings". Click on "Settings".
5. Tap "Wireless and Network", then tap "Tethering".
6. You should have a "USB tethering" option. Tap this option so that a checkmark is in the box. In your task bar at the top of the phone, you should see tethering enabled. You can hit the house to go back to the main screen on the phone.
7. If your computer is Windows 7 and configured like mines you should see a little mini computer in the task bar next to the time. This will tell you that the connection is active. If it has a yellow bar next to it give it a few moments to connect to the internet. At this point you can surf the web! No extra money to put out, no gimmick, just internet.
I am super glad that I was able to figure this out because I downloaded a trial and did not pay for the app but once I figured out how to get the app installed on the computer I was going to pay for the full app which was, like, $32 dollars. That's a lot to pay for a feature you already have for free, in my opinion. If you run into any issues trying to install this then there are support forums that will walk you through the issues. I cannot say that this is the same process on Vista or before because all of my pc's have been updated to 7. As far as AT&T I cannot say if they allow this connection because I also have no AT&T access but it is definitely worth a try. I think that this is a great feature and I thank Samsung for caring enough to add this, and for Tmobile not blocking my connection, because it's a lifesaver when not around a connection or a hotspot but have school work or something that must get done.
**Edit July 24, 2011** Seidio Innocell 3000 mAh Battery
On the 1620 mAh battery that comes with the phone I was ultimately able to squeeze out 11 hours of usage, from 9:45 a.m to 8:00 p.m, on heavy use. The problem I ran into was that I actually leave my job at 10 p.m, sometimes a smidgen later, and I was not thrilled with having a dead phone to go home with. With that, I chose to get the Seidio Innocell 3000 mAh battery from amazon. I received this battery on Friday afternoon. Charged it from 7:30 p.m to 2:00 a.m Saturday morning. I used this phone from 2:00 a.m until 4:00 a.m Sunday and my phone was still at 4%. This is after over 3 hours of conversation, non-stop messaging, Facebook messages and status updates, internet, YouTube video's for 30 minutes, gaming and using the OI Shopping app when I got off work at midnight and picked up a few things for Sunday dinner at Wal-Mart. Calculate the time: From 2:00 a.m Saturday til 4:00 a.m Sunday I did not touch my charger. I took my charger to work with me just in case and never pulled it out of my purse. That is 26 straight hours of power, and then some because when I went to bed at 4 a.m my phone was at 4% and I could not kill the battery and trust me I did everything I could to kill it because I am still conditioning the battery and wanted to charge it from slam dead. However, I gave in and charged it at 4%. There is no telling how long that battery truly lasts beyond 4% because I had to give up and go to bed and I needed a working phone later in the day and did not want to chance standby and a dead phone when I woke up 8 hours later. Nonetheless, this is an accessory that is really necessary if you are like me and enjoy having the phone all day! This battery is $56.00 here on amazon.com and it's worth every penny! (I did a more detailed review on the battery page and like the phone journey I will be updating that review as I get more of an understanding of what it will be doing over time, especially next weekend when I am done conditioning it.)
**Edit August 14, 2011**
Less than 2 months after getting this phone it has begun to freeze on me and shut off in the middle of the calls. The dialer is forcing close as well. This was my main issue with the G1 when I had it a few years ago. It forced closed so many times that I was forced to get another phone. I have not found the reason for the freezing and shut off but it has disconnected my calls at least three times this week and re-booted as well as the calls will mysteriously drop with full signal. I am not going to throw in the towel just yet. I will do a little googling and see if maybe this phone is due for an update but if this issue is not fixed soon I will be forced to get another device, which I really do not want to do at this point. For these new issues, I am going to drop this to a three star rating and raise it back to four if I can fix it.
**Edit Auguest 17, 2011** Roots and Mobile Access Points, Oh My!
Okay, a few days ago I have been having issues with my phone cutting off in the middle of conversations and dropping calls on full 4G signal strength. I went through my settings and realized that I was a "Super User". Now, I know that having a "rooted" phone does not mean that it will cause the phone to power cycle or drop connection, however, ever since I "unrooted" this device I have not had any additional issues with it powering off or dropping calls. For those who don't understand what rooting is, this is a process very similar to taking over administrative rights to your computer, only it's taking over ownership of your phone which allows you to download and install third party applications. The phones from this dealer are rooted and unlocked, so that's something to consider if you start having issues similar to what I experienced.
I also just found out that this phone is a wireless access point, which allows you to wirelessly share your data connection through the phone company with up to five additional wireless devices. I tried this last night with my Zune HD and my laptop and it works beautifully. To enable this feature:
1. Go to Settings
2. Go to Wireless and Network
3. Go to Mobile AP (3rd Option)
4. Select Mobile AP (1st Option; option will not be active if battery dips below a certain point)
5. Activate Wifi on the device you want to use and look for the network, usually named "Android" with some numbers after the name.
I cannot definitively say that this actually work for carriers other than Tmobile, because I have no other sim cards to test, but it's always worth a shot! Remember that Mobile AP is a hotspot but that it also uses your data so make sure you have unlimited if you plan on using this option a lot. Tmobile has no more than 5GB of data, which is rumored to be unlimited but I don't know because I am somewhat midway through the month and I have used over 2GB of data, so we will see at the end of the month if it is, indeed, unlimited.