By Richard Sheasley
After spending some time with this phone there are a number of things to like about it. If you can get past the couple biggest limitations already pointed out in part 1 (small keypad, browser button position and location, etc.); then you should be pretty happy carrying this phone. It definitely is ranked up at the top few of the best-featured phones Tracfone has available in this reviewer’s eyes. Very few new limitations or issues have changed my mind on this phone as a good Tracfone selection. Remember that Tracfone can and does change pricing, special promotional packages and offerings at any time. For the expense of this Tracfone purchase, it is one of the best-valued (but not the cheapest by far) phones Tracfone has released for its features and capabilities.
It is also not approaching a true “smart phone” due to the limitations and lock down on the browser that Tracfone has elected to continue on this phone. But it is one of the few stylish camera and bluetooth capable phones out there under the Tracfone cellular offerings. Also the bluetooth will only work with a headset and not allow transferring of files with any computer through the bluetooth. The reviewer has not tried a USB data cable with this phone, but understand that there are a few sources now for these data cables.
When pairing with a bluetooth headset make sure you enable the bluetooth headset search first as the phone times out very fast in it’s searching. It is a simple straight forth process unless it is your first time making a bluetooth connection, in which case you will need to follow the steps and make sure you have your devices pairing pass code (usually 0000) and the bluetooth connection on the phone is enabled.
The phone battery life is what I would rate as excellent. Unless you are a heavy minutes or text messaging user, then should be able to go 3 days or so without having to recharge the phone.
Signal Quality is another area that is commonly very important to cell phone users of any level. I tested this on a driving trip in some rural areas up against a Motorola W370G series Tracfone. The Motorola 37xG series has been a long time favorite of Tracfone users looking for good solid signals. Both were on the same basic GSM network - AT&T in this case but your service area may vary. The signal bars were always pretty closely matched, anytime one phone showed roaming the other did too. Likewise, the areas where no signal messages were received and calls could not be completed matched also - a period of about 45 minutes on my drive.
Of course your coverage should be checked based on your travels and zip codes through both the Tracfone web site, and the underlying GSM carriers - AT&T and T-Mobile that Tracfone uses. Many of the features limitations and capabilities can best be answered on the Samsung web site’s FAQ’s:
Menu structure on the phone:
There are 9 menu items (available in either text description or graphical icons via a setting) with:
1 Prepaid - Add & Buy Airtime, Turn on or off the airtime service and minutes on the display, serial number, sim number, and code entry- specific programming info
2 Contacts - pretty normal list of features including a reject list for those you want to ignore any further calls
3 Recent Calls - History on calls, call time, as well as data volume usage
4 Messages - Standard messaging lists as well as a template for common text messages (ie “Where are you?” etc. to save common texting entry)
5 Browser – Home Page, favorites, enter a URL (limitations and experiences discussed in the first impression review and further pretty much make this only a storage for common addresses as the standard wap (wap is wireless application protocol) - web sites do not work, only the Tracfone wap web site for options including:
1 downloads (such as ringtones, graphics, etc.)
2 sports (by league or a brief list of highlight stories)
3 weather reports (national outlook, radar, satellite or find a location by city or fastest and best is by a zip code)
4 news – various categories such as world, national, business, entertainment, strange, sci-tech, politics, sports, health
5 movies can find a theater and get info on top box office, new releases, coming attractions, as well as general movie news
6 horoscopes- know your sign
7 lottery - by state to get info on top jackpots and to find games
8 my stuff - kind of like a favorites section
Many sites linked under the search results receive the HTTP Error: 403 forbidden – so do not expect the full web search and wap enabled site selection you may have on a standard data plan enabled prepaid phone plan.
As mentioned in part 1 of the review many popular and handy sites are not available in the browser such as testing wap m.ebay.com, or Paypal’s mobile.paypal.com, and other wap enabled sites - for more on this read the browser section of the Samsung phone documentation so you can familiarize yourself with the browser operation and reduce the time to reach info you may want. Each minute of browser and data results in a .5 unit deduction, so units can be eaten up stumbling through menus and links haphazardly.
6 Games and Apps (really just Games and Camera) - two games are included Steamhouse Jumpboy (ver 1.17) (a Mario style game to catch objects) and A+Sudoku (a grid based logic puzzle game) are loaded and ready for entertainment
The Apps – really the camera - a VGA (640x480 resolution) with some zoom and a maximum estimated 50 pictures in the storage (depending on the resolution of the shots stored)
7 My Folder (storage for audio and graphics and used memory space) - Downloaded tones, recorded audio, photos and setting the background wallpaper to a custom picture
8 Tools - (some of the nicest features discussed further below in recap)
5 Tip Calculator
9 World Time
10 Sim App (Unlock only selection - shows the phones ICC-ID Note that Tracfone terms of service does not support unlocking their phones for use with other services)
1 Sound Profile
2 Set Display
3 Set time and date
4 Set phone
5 Set calls
6 Bluetooth (turn on or off, show devices, bluetooth info, search for new device)
7 Set applications - (Message, Camera, Record Audio, Calendar, Contacts)
Recap of Features likes and dislikes:
What it does well:
It has a good selection of tools, some that usually not available on even higher priced cell phones such as the conversion calculators for many English or US measurements to other types common elsewhere. This is a handy item for travel including the currency conversion (just make sure the rates are what you end up paying as they do vary regularly). Also sports fans may find the stop watch feature handy with split times and all included as one of the tools.
What it does not do (or limitations in addition to mentions in features):
There is no music player, mp3 etc. built into this phone (other than possibly ring tones which the reviewer did not try loading any standard mp3 audio for custom ring tones due to the limitation of the bluetooth connection, and according to the FAQ’s on the Samsung web site, most custom ringtones must be downloaded from Tracfone), one day this reviewer may eventually see a need for some custom ringtone that stands out from the crowd.
The phone has no external storage (such as miniSD cards) or expansion of the memory past the 128 mb listed in the Samsung specifications, of which about 40 kb reported as usable free on the my folder upon initial set up. Some additional memory could maybe be freed up by deleting or removing the games apps etc. that are standard on the phone to store more photos or audio recording, etc.
A locked down browser that can reach the Tracfone web site, but not many other popular sites out there for full functionality just does not make much sense in the eyes of your reviewer. After all, more web and data access could result in much more unit usage and therefore more income for Tracfone. It is not all just about having to send pictures via messaging, or downloading only those ringtones and graphics that Tracfone (both of which end up as revenue for Tracfone) has available on their site. Phone users checking other wap sites for work, fun, or pleasure are extremely limited with popular sites like Ebay and the like that get mobile web traffic regularly.
-A browser button recessed more or positioned so it is not as easy to hit and connect by mistake
-A bit of a larger keypad
-An easier way to slide open the screen (without touching the screen and leaving fingerprints all over it)- maybe not an issue for women with longer fingernails
-A full browser that is not locked to Tracfone’s selected site
-A bluetooth that could be connected to computer for backup of contacts, addresses etc.
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 since 1982.
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