Samsung T259 Review

Introduction and Design

Becoming more uncommon with each passing season, the mobile landscape has changed dramatically with heavy attention focused on smartphones nowadays. Gone are the high-end feature phones of yesterday, but thankfully, there is still a thriving entry-level market for those who don’t want to be bothered by the complexities of today’s modern smartphones. Sporting a 2-year contract price of $29.99, the Samsung T259 seems to be a follow up to the T249 from the fall, but it resorts to a simpler clamshell design that’s less cumbersome.

The package contains:

  • Samsung T259
  • Wall Charger
  • Quick Start Guide
  • Terms & Conditions


Firstly, let’s not forget to note that the Samsung T259 is a basic clamshell handset that sports a price tag of $29.99 on-contract, so it doesn’t surprise us to find it constructed out of cheap feeling blue plastic. Naturally, it enables the handset, which is a little bit larger than most other flips out there, to feel extremely light weight (3.15 oz.) in the hand, but it sure does attract a ton of smudges and fingerprint. Still, its construction seems fair enough to withstand an accidental drop, but don’t be upset to find it scratching very easily. Altogether, there’s nothing too exciting about its design – which is safe to say all too typical.

You can compare the Samsung T259 with many other phones using our Size Visualization Tool.

In familiar fashion, the Samsung T259 sports an external display, which is used for notifications and taking self-portraits, and an internal 2.2” QVGA (240 x 320) display with support for 65k colors. Not the best of quality by any means, especially with its poor viewing angles and invisible look under the sun, it suffices enough since it’s primarily regarded as being a cheap phone. Finally, color production is on the neutral side, but tilting it ever so slightly away from a 90 degree angle produces some ghosting effects.

Thankfully, at least Samsung made sure to provide ample room for its numeric keypad – which we have to say offers that near perfect tactile response when pressed. Not only are buttons large, which accommodates the biggest of thumbs, but its rubbery texture allows for an adequate feel; despite its flush appearance.  Furthermore, it offers some brilliant backlighting which makes it even distinguishable under heavy lighting.

On the left edge, we’re presented with its microSD card slot and sufficient sized volume rocker that’s raised slightly while providing a tasteful response when pressed. And on the right side of the phone, we’ve got the shutter key, microUSB port for charging/syncing, and a spot for a lanyard.

In the rear, we spot the recognizable Samsung branding along with two notches for the handset’s speakerphone, while removing the back cover; it reveals the SIM card slot underneath the battery. And yeah, the T259 sports a 2-megapixel camera that’s situated directly above the external LCD display.

Samsung T259 360-degree View:

Interface and Functionality:

Plain and simple, the Samsung T259 is a straightforward pick up & go type of handset since it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to fully comprehend using the phone. Rightfully so, we don’t expect much personalization with a handset like this, but at least you have the option to change the wallpaper background. Aside from that, you’re going to have to live with its black and white main menu style which lays out animated icons in a grid-like view. Obviously, the handset doesn’t stutter in navigating around the platform, however, it would’ve been neat to see some visual flare to its overall presentation – then again, it’s a cheap phone!

Adding a contact is pretty much your standard fanfare as you’ll have a limited amount of items, like phone numbers and email addresses, to associate with each person in your address book – which happily holds a total of 1,000 contacts.

Needless to say that some people are spoiled nowadays with the amount of QWERTY devices on the market, but for those who grew up during the early days of text messaging era, they’ll find text input with the T259 standard. Speed is limited if you do it the old fashion way, however, enabling T9 will hasten your rate. And thanks to its spacious keypad, it provides for a consistent rate of input that makes speed typing mistake-free.

Although it’s not the most conducive thing to work with, the handset comes along with an email client that automatically sets up generic services, such as Gmail or Yahoo, by simply providing an email address and password. Additionally, you can manually set up others as well, but it entails giving it specific pieces of information – like server addresses and ports. Yeah you’ve got email, but it doesn’t necessarily make you any more productive.

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Sadly, there is no instant messaging application preloaded, but at least you can get you social networking fix with its Social Buzz app. Specifically, it’s your one-stop area for all your social networking needs as it aggregates content from Facebook, MySpace, and Twitter. Moreover, you can accomplish some customary tasks as well, which is nice, honestly, because it’s an entry-level phone.

Shockingly, there are few other third party apps preloaded with the Samsung T259, which is hard to believe, but alas, it’s pretty much slim. Initially, we thought that the T-Mobile Mall would hold a trove of additional downloadable apps, but sadly, the only one offered is the Social Buzz app that’s already on the phone. However, we find apps like TeleNav GPS Navigator, Google Maps, and a handful of demo games. Complementing them is the customary set of organizer apps – which include things like a tip calculator, calendar, converters, and an RSS reader.


Definitely not the first thing to come in mind with a clamshell device, but the 2-megapixel camera of the T259 manages to capture some average looking images. For the most part, detail is more than forgiving, but color production is evidently on the cooler side – making shots looking under-exposed. Of course, image quality takes a dip indoors under low lighting since there is a noticeable amount of noise. Without question it won’t replace any of your standalone shotoers, but the results should be adequate for most people to swallow.

Forget about using the handset to take videos because the only things you’ll experience are pixelated ones that have a choppy frame rate. Only capable of shooting QVGA (320 x 240) videos, it doesn’t boast a lot of detail, but instead, it does add in plenty of pixilation. Adding to its less than enticing quality is its stutter capture rate of 14 frames per second combined with muffled sounding audio recording.

Samsung T259 Sample Video:

Yes! It has a music play; surprisingly. But it’s not going to win any awards on fashion since it forgoes looks in favor of functionality. Displaying only the track information and on-screen controls, music will stop immediately if you happen to close the handset or exit out of the app. Interestingly enough, we’re thoroughly blown away, literally, by its audio quality because its speaker produces some strong tunes that doesn’t let out any crackly tones.

Nothing too exciting seen with video playback on the T259 – that’s because it’s only capable of playing low quality ones. We managed to load a movie trailer encoded in MPEG-4 320 x 240 resolution, and it didn’t slowdown during its entirety. Sure you can watch videos on the go, but the combination of its small screen and poor viewing angles, it doesn’t particularly impose any awe-inspiring feelings.

With approximately 110MB of free internal storage out of the box, you can always supplement its capacity by adding a microSD card up to 32GB in size.

Internet and Connectivity:

International voice calling isn’t a problem for this quad-band GSM (850/900/1800/1900 MHz) phone, but unlike the Samsung t249, this one features dual-band UMTS (1700/2100 MHz) for 3G speeds via T-Mobile’s AWS band. In addition, it packs on Bluetooth 2.1 with EDR to get a myriad of other wireless devices to connect.

Again, we find ourselves in a familiar position in the web browsing department – that’s because its small display isn’t the most convenient thing for the eyes. Regardless of that, it still nonetheless offers us the ability to browse the web. Sure we were shocked to see complex sites load up, especially when we got a notification saying that it might not properly display since it’s too big for the internal memory, but it’s still nice to see ours completely load; somewhat. Aside from a few missing photos, we’re agreeable with its scrolling and desktop-like page layout. It’s not the most satisfying thing, but hey, you can’t knock on it since it offers the functionality.


It’s hard to fathom seeing basic devices failing on one crucial area where they’re expected to perform flawlessly, but it still does happen. Fortunately, it seems that Samsung did their job in offering an overall engaging calling quality. Specifically, the earpiece produces enough volume to clearly comprehend the distinguishable voices of our callers. Conversely, our voice was natural in tone on the other end of the line as well. However, there is a little bit of muffling going on with the speakerphone, but thanks to its deafening output, it doesn’t really come into play much,

During our testing in the greater Philadelphia area, we didn’t experience any dropped calls or major fluctuations in signal strength.

Impressively, we managed to obtain 8 hours of continuous talk time on a single charge and easily blasts its way past the 6 hours of talk time that the manufacturer has it rated for.  Though, we’d imagine it to excel in this area since it’s primarily going to be a talk device above anything else. As for standby time, the manufacturer has it rated for 335 hours.


Yes, the Samsung T259 makes for a good solution for those who don’t want to be bothered with smartphones – especially if calling is placed highly on the list. Moreover, it still packs on some useful features, like Social Networking access, but isn’t accompanied with many complexities to confuse people. And even though some people might find its $29.99 on-contract pricing satisfactory, it seems like less of a value versus some comparably priced basic smartphones – like the Motorola CHARM or LG Optimus T. Nonetheless, it gets the job done in being nothing more than a simple phone, but it would be nice if it were priced at free.

Software version of the reviewed unit: T259UVKA3

Samsung T259 Video Review:


  • Great calling quality
  • Long talk time
  • Spacious numeric keypad


  • Bland design
  • Poor viewing angles
  • Isn’t priced for free

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