Samsung Trance U490 Review

Introduction and Design

Since its introduction nearly three years ago, the LG Chocolate series has been one of the best selling music-centric phones offered by Verizon Wireless. Samsung then followed suit and tried to get a piece of the action with their Juke device, but it was little more than an MP3 player with a built in phone. Now a year and a half later comes the Samsung Trance U490 slider, which is reminiscent of the original Chocolate, but how does it compare to the current LG Chocolate 3 offering? Let’s find out!

Included in the retail package in the Samsung Trance U490 phone, 880mAh battery with cover, wall charger with detachable proprietary USB cable, and user manual.


As we mentioned, the Samsung Trance U490 is a slider style phone and is available in two color options: Piano Black and Electric Red. The black model looks like it could be the next Chocolate, if it wasn’t for the Samsung branding on the front of the device, while the red model is very reflective and puts us in mind of a metallic red bowling ball color. The overall feel of the phone is very slick, and there were several instances where we thought the phone was going to slip out of our hands. The sliding mechanism is very smooth, but you can hear some plastic parts moving. With the device closed, it is about the same size as the LG Chocolate 3 and can easily be tucked away in your pant’s pocket without getting a lot of attention.

You can compare the Samsung Trance U490 with many other phones using our Size Visualization Tool.

The 2.1” 176x220 pixel display takes up most of the front real estate. Images and text look OK, and there are 6 brightness settings available to the user, but we still wish a QVGA display were used instead. At the bottom is a 5 way d-pad, left and right soft keys, clear and music button, all of which are touch-sensitive and use capacitive technology. They have a white backlight that will flash when you activate a key, as well as producing a “beep” sound and haptic feedback. However, the vibration was quite strong and annoying, so we turned it off. We also set the Touch Sensitivity level to high, which made it more responsive. Samsung has had issues with their capacitive technology in the past, such as the Glyde, but we’re glad the say that we didn’t experience any problems with the touch-sensitive buttons on the Samsung Trance U490. Located at the top (next to the earpiece) is a proximity sensor that will automatically lock the touch-sensitive buttons while you are on a call and the phone is placed next to your face. Once you move the phone away from your face, the display will turn back on and the buttons will light up.

Sliding open the Samsung Trance U490 reveals the hidden numeric keypad with white backlighting. Their layout and size is almost identical to the LG Chocolate VX8550, except they are slightly curved on the sides and have raised edges separating each key. Because of this, we had no problem dialing or texting by touch alone. Along the sides are the volume rocker, lock/unlock button, speakerphone button, charging/data port, 3.5mm headset jack, and microSDHC slot that accepts up to 16GB memory cards. On the back is the external speaker with “Audio by Bang & Olufsen ICEpower” label and hidden 1.3MP camera that requires the phone to be slid open to use.

Samsung Trance U490 Video Review:

Samsung Trance U490 360 Degrees View:

Software and Features:

The main menu of the Samsung Trance U490 is identical to most other Verizon phones, with categories for Media Center, Messaging, Contacts, Recent Calls, and Settings & Tools.  User customizations include 3 themes: White, Electric, and Violin, as well as being able to change the layout between Tab, List, and Grid views.  While in grid view, there is a new feature that allows you to replace up to 4 icon shortcuts with another shortcut, but the selection is very limited.  You can also change the location of all the icons on the grid.

The phonebook allows for up to 1000 contacts to be saved with the normal name and number entries, but now allows you to save a person’s IM screen name, street, city, state, zip code, and country.  Once a contact is saved, you can assign them to one of 999 speed dial locations.

The 1.3MP camera is very basic, with outside images looking over exposed if there is too much light, and colors looking a bit dull.  Pictures taken inside often came out blurry due to lower shutter speed and the lack of a built-in flash.

One of the main features of the Samsung Trance U490 is its music capabilities, as it has 1GB of internal memory dedicated for storing music, and can use memory cards up to 16GB in size.  Pressing the music note key to the left of the d-pad will launch the player.  Your library files are categorized by All Songs, Playlists, Artists, and Albums (we’re not sure why Genres is missing here).  Once a song begins playback, the album art is shown with the name of the track and CD, and with a progress bar at the bottom.  Since it is capable of multitasking, you can exit the player and continue to listen to music while using the Trance for other tasks, such as sending and receiving text message.  The player also allows you to change the skin between simple view, visualizer, album art (default), and lyrics.  Below the speaker is printed “Audio by Bang & Olufsen ICEpower”.  This is the first Verizon device to offer this, so we were interested if the Samsung Trance U490 has better music quality than the LG Chocolate 3.  We noticed that the Trance can play slightly louder, but there is some distortion if there are a lot of instruments or voices in a song.  To us, most music sounded better through the Chocolate 3’s stereo speakers, as it didn’t produce the distortion we heard on the Trance.  We then tried both devices with 3.5mm wired earbuds and a stereo Bluetooth headset, and the Chocolate 3 continued to provide the cleanest sound.  The Samsung Trance U490 offers an equalizer with 12 modes, but we found that the “Basic” setting sounded the best.  There are also 3D sound modes when using a wired headset or Bluetooth Stereo, but music sounded better with it turned off.  Overall, the music quality on the Trance is good, and better than what you’ll find on most phones, but the LG Chocolate 3 still does a better job.

The Samsung Trance U490 is capable of using Mobile Web, VZ Navigator, and can downloading games and ringtones, but unfortunately it is lacking EVDO, which limits its connection to only 1X.  Because of this, data speeds are much slower and you cannot send/receive video messages.


We were quite impressed with the Call Quality of the Samsung Trance U490, with it being as good as the LG Chocolate 3.  Voices through the earpiece speaker sounded clear and natural, lacking any static, background noise or distortion, even at high volume levels.  People that we called, who were using a landline, said our voice also sounded clear and natural on their end.  The speakerphone is also loud, and didn’t have any distortion.  Reception was also good, as we had 2-3 bars of 1X around South FL and didn’t drop any calls.  We were also able to achieve up to 5 hours of continues talk time on a full charge.


The Samsung Trance U490 is a stylish slider phone that is geared mostly to the under-20 crowd.  We like the overall design, choice of colors, and touch pad, but wish the display and camera was better quality.  The music player does a good job, but if you don’t mind a flip phone, the LG Chocolate 3 does a better job and offers more all the way around.


  • Stylish design
  • Call quality and reception
  • Bang & Olufsen ICEpower
  • Five hour talk time


  • Lacks EVDO
  • Basic 1.3MP camera
  • No QVGA display

PhoneArena Rating:


User Rating:

10 Reviews

Recommended Stories

Loading Comments...
FCC OKs Cingular\'s purchase of AT&T Wireless