Samsung Replenish Review

3
Introduction and Design
Introduction:

When it comes to technology, there’s no arguing that cell phone manufacturers are at the cutting edge, but there are still very few that are mindful about being eco-friendly in terms of production and distribution. So far, Sprint seems to be one of the more prevalent carriers offering green-friendly devices on its lineup – but up until now, we’ve been presented with nothing more than simple QWERTY based messaging phones. Happily, the affordable Samsung Replenish SPH-M580 is finally here not only carrying along some environmentally friendly initiatives with its production, but it also brings Android goodness in the form of a portrait style QWERTY device. Affordably priced at $50 on-contract, let’s hope that the experience is acceptable for this eco-conscious entry-level smartphone.

The recycled package contains:

  • Samsung Replenish
  • microUSB Cable
  • Wall Charger
  • Get Started Guide
  • microSD card adapter


Design:

Almost just as hefty as some landscape style QWERTY devices out there, like the Samsung Transform, the Samsung Replenish is extraordinarily longer than some of its brethren. Still, it’s manageable to hold in the hand without feeling too unwieldy, though, its recycled black plastic exterior radiates somewhat of a cheap feel – yet, it’s helping out the environment either way. Meanwhile, the chrome accents around the handset give it a little bit of personality, but either way, it still looks and feels much like any entry-level handset out there.



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

Almost expected at this point, especially considering that it focuses on being a green device, the handset features a paltry 2.8” QVGA (320 x 240) display with support for 16.7 million colors. Obviously tiny and rather pixelized looking, it’s nowhere as sharp looking as we’d like, while color production with it is on the bland side. Moreover, it has some poor viewing angles which not only makes it difficult to view under the sun, but even tilting the handset slightly, it washes out the display to the point of making whatever is on-screen indiscernible.


Regarded as a rare sight amongst Android smartphones still, we’re presented with physical Android buttons with the handset that are sufficient in size and response. Below that, the handset’s 4-row portrait style QWERTY keyboard follows in style to what’s seen with the BlackBerry Curve 3G. Relying on some tiny looking hard plastic keys, which are somewhat rounded towards the middle, they’re distinguishable to make out with our fingers, while expressing a reasonable amount of tactility when pressed. Naturally, the cramped confines will make it a nightmare to use for people with larger fingers, but in our time using it, we didn’t encounter many problems using it.


On the left side of the phone, its chrome accented volume rocker is clearly distinguishable and well sized, while the dedicated shutter and voice dialer buttons on the right edge are both raised from the surrounding area – while offering a good amount of feedback when pressed.


Peeking at the bottom, both the microphone and microUSB port are positioned in their usual spots, and of course, the same can be said about the 3.5mm headset jack and dedicated power perched on the top area of the phone. Actually, the raised power button is prominent, and offers that exceptional response when pressed down.



Finally, the 2-megapixel fixed focus camera is outlined with a chrome trim around it in the rear, with the speakerphone notches located in close proximity to it as well. Furthermore, removing the flimsy back cover will grant you access to its 1,600 mAh battery and spring activated microSD card slot – there’s a 2GB preloaded in there. Interestingly enough, you can purchase the optional $30 solar charger that is used in place of the usual back cover. From what we’re told, leaving it out to absorb some sun for about 1 hour will provide approximately 20 minutes of talk time. Yet again, this useful accessory goes to highlight yet the additional eco-friendly nature of the handset.



Samsung Replenish 360-degrees View:






Interface and Functionality:

Although its 600MHz processor with 512MB of RAM might seem quaint by today’s standards, it actually provides a tolerable Android 2.2.2 Froyo experience. When comparing it to something like the Samsung Transform, navigating around its homescreen is more fluid in nature – and without much choppiness with its operation. Obviously, you have plenty of personalization aspects with the device, but it even offers the Sprint ID service that enables you to download specific ID packs that are theme based. Even though the default ID pack places a recycling logo as its wallpaper, it doesn’t go beyond that to promote any green initiatives. However, you can download the “Green” ID pack that tastefully complements the handset’s focus.



From the address book to the calendar, most of the core applications with the Samsung Replenish remain unchanged from what we’re normally adjusted to using. Contacts and appointments are synced properly, but it’s nice to see that you can also sync your contacts from social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter.



Without a doubt, the physical keyboard is the best option to side with when it comes down to inputting text, but it’s worth noting that you’re forced to use it because there is no support for a portrait on-screen one. Surprisingly, there is a landscape one, which is extremely constricted in space, but it’s still more than responsive in keeping up with our rate. Nonetheless, we’d suggest sticking with the physical keyboard for all your needs.



Even for an entry-level handset, the Gmail experience is vastly intuitive since it incorporates most of the recognized features found with the desktop experience. Of course, you can set up other email services besides Gmail, which require just your email address and password to set up for the popular services, but for others that aren’t the usual ones, you might be asked for additional things like server addresses and ports.



Thankfully, there aren’t  that many bloatware apps preloaded with the handset – which is nice of course. However, being the Sprint bound device it is, there are quite a few Sprint branded apps on board from the get-go – such as Sprint Football Live, Sprint Hotspot, Sprint Mobile Wallet, Sprint Music, Sprint Radio, Sprint TV & Movies, and Sprint Zone. In addition, the only two other third party apps preinstalled are Telenav GPS Navigator and ThinkFree Office.






Camera and Multimedia:

Taking into account the measly sized 2-megapixel camera that it’s packing along, one can only imagine that it might not be something you’d want to use for shooting those precious moments. Rightfully so, our assumptions are confirmed with its muddy looking visuals, combined with bland color production, that make it seem as though they are painted on a canvas. Likewise, quality with indoor shots is considerably reduced due to the vast amount of digital noise taking precedence within most things. All in all, you’d be hard pressed to even fathom about even snapping some things with this one.





Scary to say, but the handset’s video capture is abundantly even worse with its intense pixelization and jerky looking recording. And to cap its utterly poor video recording quality, its muffled audio recording just doggedly cements it worthlessness in even minutely being considered useful in shooting videos.



Samsung Replenish Sample Video:



Not surprisingly, we’re greeted with the tried and true stock Android music player, which is more than functional in playing tunes. Somewhat of a shocker to us, the audio emitted by its speaker is acceptably proficient in producing some decent tones that aren’t distorted at the loudest volume setting.



Knowing that it’s boasting a QVGA display, you know that video playback might be limited. Although we might be rather quick in judgment, we’re flattered to say the least, when we find it able to play a video encoded in MPEG-4 800 x 480 resolution. Fortunately, it moves at a smooth rate to make the experience satisfactory.



Honestly, we’re content with the handset’s preloaded 2GB microSD card, but for those who happen to need more, you can always replace it with something up to 32GB in capacity.

Internet and Connectivity:

Things might look rather indistinguishable in a zoomed out view with the web browser, which is attributed to its low quality display, but besides that, we’re content with the overall experience. Fortunately, complex web sites load in a timely manner, and even though it might not support Flash, it gracefully operates at a respectable level that doesn’t hinder things like pinch zooming or kinetic scrolling. For something like this, we’re surprised to tell you the truth that the web browsing performance is undeniably good – even for this eco-friendly device.



Catered to run off Sprint’s CDMA network, it operates like any other device on the carrier’s lineup with its EV-DO rev. A data connection. Also, you’ve got things like GPS that will hone in on your exact location, Wi-Fi as an alternative data connection when cellular isn’t sufficient, and Bluetooth 3.0 to get other wireless devices to connect with it.



Performance:

Of all things, calling quality with the handset rises above almost everything else since voices are seemingly natural in tone and clear – with no evidence of any distortion whatsoever. Additionally, the earpiece outputs enough powerful tones to make even the softest of voices sound more than audible. Switching to the speakerphone though, we’re not too thrilled with the muffled sounding voices emitted by it – albeit, it’s still powerful enough in tone to make out words.

Always getting a solid connection to the network in high coverage areas in the greater Philadelphia region, we didn’t experience any major fluctuations in signal strength. At the same time, it didn’t drop any phone calls as well during our testing.

Battery life appears to be slightly better than most other smartphones because we managed to get 1 ½ days of normal use on a full charge. However, it’s worth mentioning that we set its brightness to the lowest setting, and used the handset primarily for web browsing, emails, text messaging, and the occasional phone call.

Conclusion:

Not all eco-friendly devices get as much love as the Samsung Replenish, especially when it’s running an equipped smartphone platform, but there are still some other exciting things attached to it that make it rise above most things. For starters, its $49.99 on-contract pricing is more than acceptable, especially when it operates at a decent rate, but even better yet is the fact that Sprint will waive the usual $10/month premium data fee that’s normally associated with its smartphones. On top of that, you have things like its recycled plastic exterior and optional solar charger that aids its capacity in helping out the environment in more ways than one. In the end, the Samsung Replenish does exactly what it’s sought out to do – and that’s giving some rejuvenating presence to some green-friendly initiatives.

Software version of the reviewed unit:
Android Version: 2.2.2
Build number: FROYO.EC30
Kernel Version: 2.6.32.9

Samsung Replenish Video Review:




Pros

  • Constructed out of recycled plastic
  • Good platform performance
  • Optional solar charger
  • Saves you $10/month

Cons

  • Somewhat cheap feeling
  • Shoots muddy looking photos & videos
  • Low quality display

PhoneArena Rating:

7.5

User Rating:

8.0
4 Reviews

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