First of a 2 part review
By Richard Sheasley
The TracFone Samsung T301g ( SGH-T301G ) is the second of the new Samsung phones, a major cell phone manufacturer that was recently added to Tracfone’s list of GSM mobile phone suppliers. The T301G is the first slider style phone that Tracfone has offered, and is currently only available on the TracFone web site. It is probably the most features-rich and advanced phone, with capabilities such as bluetooth, a built in browser, built in games, and a number of tools included. All other recent offerings from TracFone have been either candy bar style phones or flip phones.
Like all the higher end phones, the package mentions that the phone includes double minutes for life (DMFL), which was not mentioned on the Tracfone web site anywhere during the first week of the phone’s offering. As with all TracFones, users purchase airtime cards and should be able to approach somewhere around 10 cents a minute, to as low as 8 cents a minute with good TracFone bonus codes offerings.
Samsung T301G Package
TracFone T301G First impressions
Upon opening and setting up the T301G there are a few things that Samsung did right with the phone, and a few items that could be issues for some cell phone users. First, the phone has a small keypad that is covered with the phone in the closed position. This protects random dialing, but the keys are smaller than some users may be used to. It will not be a good choice for anyone with larger fingers. The set-up of the phone was pretty simple- install the battery; slide into place the rear cover; power on the phone and place the wall charger on the phone. The charger plug is on the bottom right side under a small cover. It is the same spot a special headset to listen to the audio files would plug in.
Activation, like any of the Tracfone offerings, is best done on their web site. You get 20 minutes of airtime (versus 10 minutes if you call to activate the phone) and 60 days of service time included. The phone will either have an AT&T or T-Mobile sim that is already installed in the back of the phone and will be assigned a phone number based on the zip code you provide during the activation process.
Front of Samsung T301G in Open Position
Minimal look to the phone
The phone is plain, yet pretty functional with 2 left side buttons, a small cursor pad on the front below the LCD screen, and a camera button and a cover over the power and accessory plug on the right hand side of the phone. This phone slides up to reveal the hidden keypad on the bottom part of the phone and on the back of the upper part of the LCD display is the camera lens and bluetooth sensor.
There is no external antenna, nor is there any standard 2.5 mm wired headset plug anywhere on the phone. So hands free use will require either a bluetooth headset, or using the speakerphone while driving or other activities that do not allow the holding of the phone up to the side of your head.
If the phone is in the closed position, then the keypad with the menu button, browser button, send button, power/end button, 4 arrow cursor buttons and clear buttons are locked and the upper left menu button followed by the OK button must be pressed to unlock the phone buttons. Or you can simply slide open the phone by pushing the display away from yourself and reveal the numbers keypad. Once it is opened these same menu buttons are no longer locked and available as needed.
Front of Samsung T301G in Closed Position
Using the TracFone T301G
In the short time spent with the phone so far, a few things have taken a bit of getting used too. First, the send button is very sensitive to the length of time you hold it down. Press it too long and the call will not go through. A short quick press and immediate release of the button is needed for a call to be connected, unlike some other phones that actually have a short delay and requiring the user to hold the button for a few seconds to avoid an inadvertent dialing of the phone.
At first it seemed like the send button was not working, required hitting it 2 times, or was having intermittent problems; but it simply was the case where this tester was holding the button too long and not immediately releasing in early attempts to complete calls. Tracfone technical support was contacted and confirmed that the issue was not any defect in the phone at all, just the reviewer not being used to the button feel.
The other item that took getting used to by this reviewer was the sliding of the phone to the open position (I have been a lover of the flip phones with the last 3 mobile phones used the flip style). There is a single narrow ridged bar between the LCD display and the cursor pad that is designed for this and can be used if you are careful. However, it is easy to hit the right browser button possibly resulting in a 1/2 unit deduction off your minutes instead. After some use, the opening has gotten easier with practice and this reviewer feels it is almost as easy to just use the screen area to push the phone open.
Also, at least with this tester’s area and carrier, the area code must be dialed for all calls with this phone. If the area code is not dialed, then a recorded message is heard instructing the call cannot be completed as dialed. In travels and limited usage so far, I have only had 1 dropped call and strong signal in the area.
The phone connected fine without issue to the Bluetooth headset, scanning for the bluetooth device is really short duration, requiring you to put the headset in the discovery mode first and then the phone. If you do not do it in that order you need 3 hands or a second person to activate the headset at the same time you push the phone.
Attempts to connect the phone via bluetooth to a PC with a bluetooth device failed to find the PC’s device, but the PC side did see the phone but would not complete any connection. This is due to the firmware limitations Tracfone puts on the phone for headset only compatibility and leads to having to send any photos as messages over the phone, not as direct transfers to a computer.
Messages are 1/3 of a unit for sending or receiving, photos have to be transferred via multimedia message (mms), and the web browser sessions are 1/2 of a unit for connection with additional deductions for any extended use after the first minute. However, many wap mobile web sites received http error: 403 forbidden including m.ebay.com and other sites attempted outside of the Tracfone web site.
Helpful information on the phones use and features can be found on the Samsung web site. This includes an extensive list of FAQ that provide explanation and step-by-step instructions. There is also a 2-page quick guide manual available in the Download Center as either a .pdf or as djvu format.
The manual that is included in the package is a Tracfone produced manual that includes: getting started section, overview of the Tracfone service, and the most helpful 3rd section on using the phone with instructions for setting up the phone, a run down of the phone’s buttons and setting up the phone for thing like voice mail, bluetooth and personalizing the phone.
Back of Samsung T301G in Open Position
The Samsung web site lists several accessories for the phone. Tracfone has nothing listed yet for accessories for this phone, however it does fit in their universal case that is part of the universal Tracfone accessories kit- but little else in that kit would work on this phone.
Watch for part 2 - a report on the advanced features run down, limitations, comments and further review on photos and tools, etc. In the meantime, you can go to the TracFone web site and enter your zipcode to determine the availibility of the TracFone Samsung T301G in your area.
Part 2 of the Fone-Review TracFone Samsung T301G review is now posted!
Copyright info – This article is copyright 2009 – no part of this can be reproduced without the approval of the author and http://www.fone-review.com/
About the Reviewer: Richard Sheasley has been involved in sales and support of personal computers, data networks and technology for over 27 years.