Samsung Behold Review

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Introduction and Design
Introduction:

The TouchWiz interface invasion has finally reached T-Mobile who is receiving their first taste with the Samsung Behold. Samsung is intent on marketing their spiffy looking interface to win over consumers looking to make the jump into an easy to use touch phone. The device lives up to what our neighbors overseas were treated too earlier in the year. This TouchWiz non-smart phone variant packs a nice 5-megapixel camera with support for T-Mobile’s recently launched 3G service. Eye candy and transition effects are littered throughout the phone which will turn heads as you show off the Behold to others.

The package contains:
  • Samsung Behold SGH-T919
  • USB data cable
  • 1GB microSD
  • SD card adapter for microSD
  • User Manuals
  • Wired Stereo Headset


Design:

The Behold retains almost the same design elements we have found on other TouchWiz devices we have reviewed. Of all the other Samsung devices already released domestically, the Behold has the smallest form factor (4.1x2.1x0.5 inches) and reduces the screen size to 3 inches. The phone is constructed out of a hard plastic with the outline having a glossy look to it. We were surprised to see that Samsung used stainless steel back plating for the battery cover which supplements its overall durability.



You can compare the Samsung Behold with many other phones using our Size Visualization Tool.

Even though the overall screen size has been condensed, it still manages to retain a resolution of 240x400 pixels and 262k colors. You will be amazed how well different colors are beautifully recreated with text easily legible in direct sunlight. Pressing on the screen is accompanied with a vibration feedback to indicate something has been touched. You can zip through the various menus thanks to the precision of the device whenever it is touched. You will find the light sensor in the upper left side of the screen which adjusts the brightness to extend battery life. On the very top, you will find the sole speaker, which is used for everything from phone calls to speaker phone.

Just like the Eternity and Omnia CDMA, Samsung kept the buttons to a minimum of three physical ones which are slightly raised on the front. The send and end keys are found on the side with the middle one being used as the back/clear key. On the left side you will find the volume rocker and charging/USB port. Samsung did not go with the traditional mini or microUSB connection and decided to stick with their own proprietary port. This TouchWiz variant relies on using the same connection port to allow use of various headsets rather than a 3.5 or 2.5mm jack. You will also find the dedicated camera button on the bottom right side to quickly take photos while another one found towards the middle unlocks the device. If you’re worried about dropping or misplacing the Behold, you can tether it to yourself using the lanyard strap next to the camera button.


On the back you will find the 5-megapixel camera with a flash and self portrait mirror. The hard metallic battery cover slides off to reveal the battery compartment, SIM card slot, and microSD slot. Just like what we found on the Eternity, we are still baffled as to why manufacturers still insist on having users remove the back cover and battery just to install a mircoSD card.

You will find only the microphone on the bottom of the device.



Samsung Behold Video Review:



Samsung Behold 360 Degrees View:



Interface:

The Behold is T-Mobile’s first phone utilizing the TouchWiz interface. Samsung did a great job giving users a fresh new look to the software on the device. From the home screen to the main menu, colors are beautifully displayed and we had no problems viewing text. Although the phone uses an array of screen transitions when navigating through menus, it seemed a little bit slower than AT&T’s Eternity.

What you see is what you get with the phone software. There is a minimal set of personalization options with the interface which leaves us wondering why Samsung did not take the time to correct this for the U.S. launch. Users can change some settings with the phone to an extent such as using a taken photo as the wallpaper. The Behold provided eleven wallpaper options and no screen savers. Like we said, what you see is what you get when it comes to the personalization preferences.

We were surprised to see that there were very few T-Mobile branded applications on the device. Similar to the Eternity, the phone does not make too much use of the accelerometer sensor. You will find certain programs not rotating to landscape view when you rotate the phone. In other applications, you can only view the phone in landscape view rather than in portrait mode. The lack of offering the user to choose their positions to be a little annoying. Scrolling through the phone was a breeze and we did not have any problems selecting commands. Long scrolls are accompanied with vibrations to give the user a physical feedback.

The TouchWiz interface of course brings its heavily advertised feature:

Widgets:

Forget about the home screen, because it is now called “Widget”. Its idea is to let you add certain given “programs” and to let you arrange them the way you want. These can be found in the taskbar on the left side, from where you can drag them. It would have been nice to allow users to add more widgets than what the phone allowed, but they will be limited with the following:

-Web
-Photos
-Message Inbox
-IM
-Tips
-Search
-My Account
-Telenav
-Voice Recognition
-Calendar
-Bluetooth
-Today
-Message Composer
-Games and Apps
-Voice Mail
-Digital Clock
-Analog Clock
-Dual Clock
-Birthday

Phonebook:

Here you can save up to 2000 contacts with up to 4 numbers, including home, work, mobile, and other. On top of that, you can add pictures, ringtones, birth date and a short note. Searching is done only by first name, which is a common problem, but is largely annoying when present in such a high-end device. Additionally, you can scroll through your contacts using the magnifier icon on the side and navigate to the letter of the first name.



Organizer:

The Samsung Eternity offers some rather useful options, to help you organize your day. From the main menu, you can set up to 10 alarms, to make sure you make it to work/school on time. In the calendar, you can store up to 300 events. It can be viewed as an entire month, week or day. On top of that, from the applications menu, you are able to write short reminders and tasks (limited to 100). There is also the world clock, the calculator, the unit converter and the timer with a countdown timer. Everything that needs to be here is present.

Its built in memory is 200 MB, and it is expandable via microSD cards.





Messaging:

Thanks to the Messaging menu, you can write and send text/multimedia messages and emails. There are no factory preloaded picture templates, but you can save such for both, text and multimedia messages. The T9 system is present here and it will assist you type text faster. Inputting text is done via the screen numeric keypad or turning the phone counterclockwise to display the full QWERTY keyboard. There seems to be a glitch in the software because turning it clockwise will display the same QWERTY keyboard, but it is upside down and unusable in this orientation. Typing on the device came naturally and we found ourselves enjoying the swiftness of it.


The Behold provides users an Instant Messaging application that allows you to choose from AIM, ICQ, Windows Live, or Yahoo accounts. We were truly disappointed in the e-mail application loaded with the device. You are only limited to thirteen different e-mail providers to choose from and nothing else. So if you’re looking to add your business account e-mail, don’t count on this device to provide you push e-mail capabilities.



Connectivity:

Samsung Behold is a quad-band GSM, which will allow you to use it overseas. High speed internet access is supported using T-Mobile’s 3G service with its AWS band (1700/2100 MHz).  We would have liked to see the Behold come with Wi-Fi due to the fact that T-Mobile’s 3G service is not as widespread domestically.

We expected the presence of a good browser seeing that it is a high class device with a large touch screen. After seeing web pages run on phones such as the iPhone and the Samsung Omnia, we would hope to get a nearly flawless experience.

At first, when loading PhoneArena.com everything looks fine (correct visualization), but it is zoomed in at 100% and only a small part of the page can be seen. The browser does not provide you an option to see an overview of the page which would come handy for larger sites. The text doesn’t automatically rearrange and you’ll have to constantly scroll or zoom out, using the volume buttons. The browser is good and useful, but still the superiority of the champions is noticeable. One major item we are disappointed to point out is the long load time we witnessed while loading a page.


To connect locally, the model is equipped with Bluetooth 2.0, as well as with a USB port. The wireless method has an interesting visualization; the Eternity is visualized in the middle of a circle and all the other devices available are around it. When you want to pair the phone with another Bluetooth capable system, you have to drag and drop its icon on the one in the center.



Camera:

T-Mobile customers will be treated to a decent 5-megapixel camera which is above average when compared to other phones in their lineup. In addition to that, you will find an auto-focusing lens, self portrait mirror, and flash.
 
It takes about 3 seconds to start the software, after holding the button on the right side. When compared to dedicated digital cameras, you will need to slightly press down on the button to allow the camera to focus and then all the way to take the shot. The period between two pictures is relatively short too (3-4 seconds). You can navigate through the interface very easily which has a lot of menu options and simplistic at its core. There are two sets of four icons arranged vertically on the sides of the application.


The best photos that the device produced were outdoor shots with good lighting. They came out very clear and detailed with colors remaining true when the auto-focus was used. You could see even fine detail such as license plate numbers from cars that were in the distance. Indoor shots in almost any lighting condition seemed to come out fuzzy with colors being on the dull side when taking shots from far distances. The flash on the device only works well when you are taking a shot of something that is three feet away at the maximum from you. As you move further away, the flash does not do justice for color reproduction and everything looks fuzzy with no detail.




Videos on the other hand tell a different story though. We were quite disappointed to find that it only supports a maximum resolution of 320x240. There is a substantial few more options with the video and limits the user to small set of choices. After taking some videos in low light conditions and previewing them, we noticed that mostly everything that was captured came out dark. On the other hand, videos came out pretty decent in outdoor settings with plenty of light. Even when the phone was placed on its highest setting, the sound was very low and found ourselves listening intently. The single speaker just does not provide enough power to deliver a decent video experience, but we did not have any problems listening with wired stereo headphones.


Multimedia:

The music player has two versions – one taking up the entire screen, and which is accessible from the main menu and a second one that is visualized as a widget. In the first one, under the album cover and the track info now playing, there are six buttons. They are used to shuffle songs, repeat, modify the equalizer settings, rewind to the previous track, pause, and forward. You can sort tracks by the artist, genre, album, play list selection. Overall, the interface is easy to use but has an unattractive “antique” design. The simple functionality (fast forward, play/pause) is accessible via the widget player.

Viewing videos was tolerable, but nothing like what you would see on the iPhone or Storm. YouTube users will be pleased to know that you can watch streaming videos on the device as well. We were able to load a movie trailer in both H.263 (320x144) and H.264 (320x136) formats onto the device with no problems. The video played with a smooth frame rate with the audio syncing up perfectly with it. In addition, the Behold also supports MPEG4 and WMV videos.


Unfortunately, the same weak speaker you use during a call is employed for sound reproduction. When placed on the highest audio setting, the sound still seemed a little weak and harder to listen in louder areas. 

Software:

Besides the demo games that came preloaded with the Behold, the only other software application you will find is TeleNav Navigation. It provides quick turn-by-turn directions to addresses or points of interests. If you’re in an area where traffic is a problem, the software can quickly redirect you to avoid it and arrive at a prompt time. It took quite some time for the Behold to find our current GPS location but did not have problems getting directions afterwards.

Business users might want to look elsewhere if they plan on reading important documents because the Behold does not support viewing any Microsoft Office files. In addition to that, PDF files were unable to load as well.



Performance:

With its candy bar design and multimedia features, the device is still a phone at its core. In this aspect, the Behold did a pretty good job. The voices from the earpiece were quite audible with very little noise. People on the other side said that they were able to hear our voices quite well, without any problem. On the other hand, using the speaker phone can be a task – we had trouble trying to listen to conversations through it. Placing the setting to its maximum volume still proved not adequate enough to make conversations. We just had a hard time hearing anything through the speaker phone. We would have like to see Samsung use a separate speaker for this.

According to the manufacturer the battery should provide 5 hours of talk-time and about 300 hours of standby. Samsung packed a 1000 mAh battery with the Behold and we managed fall a little bit short at 4 hours and 30 minutes. When performing memory intensive applications like web browsing, we were able to use the phone an entire day without having to recharge. Thanks to the light sensor on the device, battery drain from the screen is reduced to a minimum.

Finally, we were quite pleased with the overall experience of the phone software. Boot up time for the device from a cold start took less than thirty seconds. Just like we saw on the Eternity, it was slightly faster with all the fancy animations and transition effects used by the phone. Consumers will be content with the device without having too many frustrations waiting for something to load up.

Conclusion:

Yes, it’s a fact that T-Mobile is now on the TouchWiz bandwagon with a head turning device! People will look and see from afar how beautiful the home screen is with all the widgets you can choose. Not only does the Behold have the looks to make it a popular phone, but the addition of a 5-megapixel camera adds to its long list of packed features. T-Mobile can’t complain about not being the first carrier to supply a TouchWiz phone, but they sure can rejoice knowing they have a solid device that can appeal to anyone looking for something new and different.



Pros

  • TouchWiz interface
  • Brilliant screen
  • 5-megapixel camera

Cons

  • Lacks Wi-Fi
  • Few personalization options
  • Single speaker design

PhoneArena Rating:

7.5

User Rating:

8.9
23 Reviews

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