Samsung T249 Review

Introduction and Design

The mobile industry is always making huge leaps and bounds in the upper end of the spectrum, but despite placing a lot of emphasis in that specific area, there will ultimately still be a demand for basic cell phones. Hence the Samsung SGH-T249 for T-Mobile, from which a quick assessment of its exterior, will easily radiate itself as being a part of the entry-level crowd. Continually striving to accommodate the most lax cell phone users around, the $9.99 on-contract Samsung T249 should hopefully appease their appetite – so let's hope it can accomplish the essentials.

The package contains:

  • Samsung SGH-T249
  • Wall charger
  • Start Guide
  • Terms & Conditions


There really isn't anything worth noting since the look and feel of the handset has been emulated many times over with other devices – and the T249 certainly follows accordingly. Constructed out of some flimsy feeling plastic materials, this slider phone doesn't scream anything inventive, but then again, it's all about functionality with this one versus design. It's compact to hide inconspicuously in the pocket, while feeling light weight in the hand thanks to its choice of materials. In any event, its overall design is pretty much in line with its entry-level nature – so you really can't expect much out of it.

You can compare the Samsung T249 with many other phones using our Size Visualization Tool.

Feasting your eyes for the first time on its 1.8” display, which has a resolution of 176 x 220 pixels with support for 65k colors, just might make you cringe due to its poor quality. Not only is it tiny, but its dull looking colors and poor viewing angles won't aid you in any way when attempting to view items on screen. You'll be required to view it at nearly a straight angle in order to see anything, because moving slightly away from it, will quickly fade your view. Naturally, it didn't hold up well in outdoor settings with the sun present.

The circular directional pad is quite functional with good feedback – especially the well-sized middle button which used to make a selection. In addition, the soft keys, send, end, and back/clear buttons are decently sized to accommodate just about any finger. By no means does it employ the most snappy opening mechanism, but nevertheless, it gets the job done without making it feel loose. Once fully opened, you'll find the numeric keypad which has a slight rubbery feel to them and is flush to the surface. Luckily, buttons are evenly sized and offer a decent click when pressed down – so you won't have any problems hitting them.

On the left side, you've got the adequately sized volume rocker, lanyard spot, and accessible microSD card slot hidden behind a plastic flap. While on the right edge, you'll find the raised dedicated camera button and microUSB port.

Flipping it over to its rear, you'll be presented with the 1.3-megapixel camera and speakerphone right next to it. Removing the rear cover can be accomplished by simply sliding it to one side, which will then give you access to the battery and SIM card slot.

Samsung T249 360 Degrees View:


The interface in use with the Samsung T249 is the same with other similar handsets we've seen from the carrier. Since it's geared for basic users, the interface perfectly lines up with their needs seeing that it's simple and straightforward – and without any hassle or lag. Personalization is pretty much a minimum with the handset, aside from changing the wallpaper or theme, but that's expected out of these kinds of phones. The main menu consists of a rotating carousel of 5 icons which are broken down to People, Messaging, Media, Settings, Organizer, and Call History. Overall, it's rather difficult in getting confused with navigating on the phone since it's pretty much linear.

The handset will be able to accommodate a maximum of 1,000 contacts, which should be more than sufficient for most people – and of course, you'll be able to input a variety of information with each person.

Composing a message, whether it be a plain old text message or an MMS, the procedure is pretty obvious since you'll have to rely on using just the numeric keypad. In any event, you'll resort to doing it the old fashion way or basically enable T9 for a faster method for inputting text. Regardless, it'll get the job done without much hassle. There's no email support with the phone, not surprisingly,  but it does come with an instant messenger client – where you'll be able to access AIM, Windows Live Messenger, or Yahoo Messenger.

You can forget about anything else with the handset because there is next to nothing in regards to third party applications. So if you're aching for some social networking action, you'll want to look elsewhere since this lacks anything in regards to it. As for the few remaining apps on the phone, the only thing you'll be greeted to are a few demo games – Tetris, Texas Holdem, and Midnight Pool 2.


Easily finding itself at the below average offering with its 1.3-megapixel camera, you really can't expect too much out of it. In fact, there isn't anything pretty with the images it is able to produce. As a whole, colors look extremely dull and lacks any vibrancy, while the soft looking images don't produce any stunning visuals. Indoors, there isn't any respite since the execution is basically unchanged. Additionally, you'll need to really have a steady hand the entire time you're attempting to shoot something – that unless you want blurry looking images.

Video quality doesn't get any better because the maximum shooting resolution is 176 x 144 pixels – which is needless to say just utterly horrific in itself. Regardless, the videos it's able to produce look pixelated beyond belief – almost as if you're trying to watch someone on a webcam through a 56k modem. Granted it offers the convenience of one, especially being a basic phone, it doesn't necessarily add anything worthwhile to it.

Running the music player, you're not going to be blown away with its typical presentation – which is fitting obviously with this handset. In addition to being extremely functional, as it displays the artist, track title, and on-screen controls, we were pleasantly surprised with the quality emitted by its speaker. It didn't crackle one bit at the highest volume setting, which is great, but we were still happy with the tone of audio it's able to produce – which is still audible to the ear.

Limited by its low-res display, you really can't find it conducive to watching videos. And the case is so because we were unable to load any of our test videos – meaning, you'll need to convert videos to a low enough resolution for the phone to accept. Naturally, you'll want to have an idea of what you're watching in the video, but with the Samsung T249, you might not even find them recognizable.

With a surprisingly healthy 100MB of internal storage, it should be enough for some individuals. But if it still doesn't seem to be sufficient, you can supplement it with microSD cards up to 16GB in capacity.


Bringing along the phone overseas for voice phone calls won't be an issue since it is a quad-band (850/900/18000/1900 MHz) GSM handset. However, you won't want to carry it along for the ride for data use since it's only limited to EDGE speeds.

Similar to watching videos, the web browsing experience is almost downright revolting since it crawls in just loading up pages. In addition, the display doesn't make it any better since you'll be required to do plenty of horizontal scrolling – that's unless you set it to mobile view; which automatically fits everything to the length of the display. Unfortunately, the handset doesn't like complex web sites like ours since it was unable to completely load it – so it's best to stick with mobile friendly sites.


We found calling quality to be a mixed bag since our callers found our voice to be natural and clear on their end – free from any background or static noise. Conversely, the only thing we experienced on our end were some crackly sounding voices, but they were still more than manageable to make out. Going with the speakerphone, we still noticed the same crackly sounding voices emitted by it, however, it was pretty indifferent and didn't impact the way we heard our callers.

Even though the handset is able to display that it has a solid amount of bars with signal strength, we did experience a few instances of it dropping our phone calls – especially in an area with great coverage.

To our surprise, the tiny 800 mAh battery tucked inside the handset was able to put out over 10 hours of talk time – which is by far the most contrasting thing about the device. In obtaining that mark, it does prove to be alluring in this category; even more when the manufacturer has it rated for 4.5 hours of talk and 312 hours of standby time.


Digging deeper down the barrel of the heap of T-Mobile's basic handset lineup, you'll obviously find the Samsung SGH-T249 fitting in with the rest of the crew. However, it doesn't win any more points with is poor performance in a variety of areas – even when there are other phones priced similarly that offer more features and superior performance. Sure it's cheap, which it is without a doubt, but there are other alternatives priced less that will more than outdo this handset in every category – while saving you some money as well.

Samsung T249 Video Review:


  • Great battery life
  • Mediocre calling quality


  • Cheap feeling
  • Terrible viewing angles
  • Poor quality with its camera
  • Dropping phone calls

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