Samsung SGH-T609 Review

Introduction

The T609 is one of the latest phones offered by T-Mobile USA. After the popularity of Samsung's T809 slider phone, T-Mobile decided to offer a flip phone with similar features and usability. The phone comes with a charger, battery, and hands-free headset but no memory card. This rather small phone is equipped with Bluetooth, a 1.3 megapixel camera, a Micro SD card slot, and many other features which makes the T609 a great phone for many people.






The T609 has a simple yet elegant and comfortable design. At first glance the user can notice the neat layout of keys and functions. The phone feels very firm and pleasant when being held due to it being made primarily out of plastic which creates a light weight at approximately 83 grams. In addition the phone has a thickness of about 0.88 inches, and length - 3.59 inches. It is small so when closed, it buries in your hand, and when opened, it is very comfortable to use as it's stable and there are no annoying sounds or movement. The antenna is internal so the phone can easily fit into any pocket without filling it up.



The outside display is greyscale, not color, and is easily seen even in bright light. It is used for system information such as signal power and battery, and on a incoming call it shows the number or name of the person calling. It can also be used as a viewfinder for the camera but because of its “qualities” it's useless.

Opening the phone is a breeze, the hinge for the flip is designed for easy one hand operation. It's not hard to open it with one hand, but when we practiced opening it with the right hand, we pushed the camera button almost every time. There was no such problem with the left hand because the headset connector is on the left side. The T609 is equipped with a brilliant 262,144 color screen, with a resolution of 176 x 220 pixels. Visibility during sunlight is easy and crisp also, the brightness level can be adjusted for even better performance. The five way navigation pad is just under the hinge, along with the two soft keys, and the Send and End buttons. Overall, they are pretty uncomfortable to use and it's quite hard to press the pad in the up direction. The Send and End buttons are often pressed in error when using the soft keys. The twelve key numeric keypad is illuminated in bright blue, which is well lit during low light. The phone has reasonably large buttons that have a soft feel when pressed. They are made of grey plastic and are appropriately designed so that they can be easily distinguished when touched. Using them is nice and comfortable, they have a good response and mistakes are rarely made.  



Just like the T509, the T609 is another Samsung phone that has an OK button in the middle of the navigation keys, which operates as a selection button and not as a T-Zones shortcut like a lot of other Samsung phones from T-Mobile. The T-Zones application can still be launched from the home screen by pressing the right soft key.



On the left side of the phone there are two volume keys which are placed in a great position for volume adjustment. On top of the volume keys is the handsfree-headset port. On the right side there is a camera button which is well placed for taking pictures with one hand, and bellow that is the microSD slot which has a white cover (just like the handsfree port) that matches the color of the surface. The charging port has the same protecting cover, and we think that these covers could easily tear apart after a while – they are not solid even in a new phone. 



The phone has no service lights, which are particularly useful in clamshell phones because they indicate missed calls or received messages so you don't need to open the phone to see them - which are the unique characteristics of the device (stylus, service lights, hinge design).



Interface:

The T609 has an uncomplicated, easy to use interface. The main menu has a very colorful 9 icon grid menu style, which is animated whenever an icon is highlighted. Navigating through the menu is effortless because of the fast response and numerous shortcuts. Often, the “C” key located underneath the 5 way navigational pad acts as a “Back” key, which further increases navigation speed. Each option in the main menu corresponds to keys form 1 to 9 which helps navigation be even faster.



Phonebook:

The phonebook is well organized and designed with the user in-mind. Every contact can have his or her first and last name, along with that you can also store up to 5 numbers. In addition every contact can also have a dedicated Picture ID and Ringtone. Organizing the phonebook can help by creating groups and setting up speed dial is child's play.
The numbers in the phone book ca be easily dialed via the voice commands of the phone.



Organizer:


The phone has three alarms that can be set go off at different times. They can be run Once, Every day, Every day except for the weekend and Every day except for Sunday. This is quite convenient but it would have been even better if you could select the days, thus you would have been able to choose only three days of the week for example. The Calendar option is a standard one – you can display month/week/day;  you can set different notes for a specific day and an alarm can also be added. The Calculator is quite simple and features only the most common capabilities; the unit converter is convenient and there is also a Currency Converter. The World Clock has a interface displaying a map of the Earth. There are two pointers as one is placed where you are currently located and the other is positioned in a zone, which time you want to know. There is nothing surprising with the Timer and Stopwatch, while you can record up to four times with the latter, which is relatively little.



Voice Notes:

There is Voice Notes option in the main menu. It is used for saving notes without the need of entering them manually through the keypad. They can be sent via MMS messages to other phones. There is a one minute restriction for them.
The phone has a complete set of voice commands which are speaker independent. By holding down the * button you can activate the manager which has a lot of options, including digit dialing. If you get bad results you can adapt digits which takes about a minute. When working with voice commands, you can also use the speakerphone.



Messaging:


The T609 includes a handful of messaging options. Of course text, picture, video, and sound messaging wouldn't have been enough, so Samsung included plenty of Instant Messaging services like AIM, ICQ, MSN Messenger, and Yahoo! Messenger. Entering text is relatively quick thanks to T9 and the fact that mistakes are rarity with the comfortable keypad.



Connectivity:

The T609 is a quad-band phone which makes it great to travel with around the world. When sending multimedia messages or just browsing through WAP, the phone uses GPRS, and EDGE for increased performance. Also the phone can act as a modem either via a USB cable or wirelessly through Bluetooth. The phone also supports Object transfer, Dial Up Networking, and Handsfree profiles via Bluetooth.

Camera:



Pressing the right side button launches the camera which takes about two seconds – a relatively quick one. Instantly it's very easy to switch into video mode if desired or changing the amount of pictures you want to take. The T609 has the option of taking up to 15 pictures consecutively using the multi shot function, which is perfect for capturing that ultra cool Ferrari driving by. The camera can take up to 1.3 megapixels photos. When taking photos at the maximum resolution, it takes about three or four seconds before taking the next picture.

There are a lot of options in the camera, the shooting mode includes (single shot, multi shot, and mosaic shot). Also you can select between effects like (Black & White, Negative, Sepia, etc.), there are many frames to choose from, and the phone also has a self timer option of (3, 5, 10 seconds). The video camera can record for about one minute at 176 x 144 pixels, and despite the low resolution it would have been better if you had unlimited length for your videos, because a memory card can be inserted.



The pictures taken with the camera look bad even if you take them outdoors and there is a lot of light. The main problem is the bad color reproduction as yellow is dominating. Purple fringing is quite often in bright light, and sometimes a large part of the picture is affected by it and we even got a totally purple picture occasionally, with the rest of it displaying false colors. The video quality is normal for MMS, but nothing more.



Music:

The T609 supports a Micro SD Translfash card for additional storage of videos, music, games, or photos. The phone supports MP3 ringtones but they cannot be used if received via Bluetooth there is a software limitation that only lets you use MP3 files as ringtones if they are downloaded from T-Mobile or any other ringtone vendor, which is really stupid. You should be allowed to use your own music and software to make a ringtone, having in mind the phone supports the MP3 format. One impressive feature of the T609 is the location of the speaker, which is located under the hinge so that the ring is always audible, no matter if the phone is opened or closed, or how it is positioned.



The interface of the player is similar to the one user in other Samsung phones; playlists can be created, but there is not capability for arranging the loaded songs by album/artist/genre any other criteria.
There is a “graphic equalizer” during playback which has nothing to do with the music currently being played, just like the one in Windows Media Player – quite useless.
It's disappointing that there's not A2DP Bluetooth profile, which restricts you to using only wired earphones, connecting them to the Samsung port.
The Music player cannot be used in background mode and you cannot listen to the music and navigate through the menus at the same time. When the shell is closed it keeps on playing. 

Games:

The phone is pre loaded with five games Bobby Carrot, Airship Racing, Arch Angel, Freekick, and Midnight Pool, all of which are JAVA based and have wonderful colors.
Additional games based on JAVA technology can be downloaded. Loading takes relatively little time so there's no boring waiting and wondering when the game will start.



Performance:

Compared to other phones of its class, T609 performs pretty good – navigation through the menus is quick and using the shortcuts makes it even quicker. Loading the JAVA applications and the camera is relatively quick too, but the time between taking two successive pictures is not that short. The signal strength was normal and we did not experience any dropped calls. The sound of the phone and the speakerphone is loud and clear; thanks to the speaker's special placement, the sound is good regardless of how the phone is positioned.

The battery is not the most powerful but that's normal for such a phone. During the tests, after normal use and a little messing about with the music player, the phone's battery lasted for four days with one charging. Depending on the usage, it could last for three to five days.

Conclusion:

T609 is a good call – it does exactly what is supposed to. The design is not at all innovative and the white color could also have been replaced with something more stylish, but its good construction and dimensions make up for this. The major pros are its nice and easy to hear ringtones and the numeric keypad which is big and comfortable to use, unlike the navigation keys. And we definitely should have in mind the microSD slot.



Pros

  • Small-sized, internal antenna, comprising enough features.
  • Slot for memory expansion; music player.
  • Quad-band GSM/EDGE phone.

Cons

  • Awful Camera Quality.
  • External display is monochrome.
  • The MP3 player has very few capabilities; lacks A2DP profile.

PhoneArena Rating:

7.3

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