T-Mobile Comet Review

Introduction and Design

Although it was hardly the thought amongst people when Android first arrived on the scene, we've gone through its initial adoption period to the inevitable reality of seeing Android smartphones selling for free. In recent memory, we've seen the acceptable performance manifested by the LG Optimus T which brought owning an Android smartphone to a new level at $29.99 with a contract. However, we might all kiss the usual medley of feature phones goodbye now that the T-Mobile Comet U8150 has arrived on the scene bringing in tow all the wonderful features of Android – even more when you don't have to spend a cent in owning this device.

The package contains:

  • T-Mobile Comet
  • 2GB microSD card
  • Stereo Headset
  • microUSB Cable
  • Wall charger
  • Start Guide


Manufactured by China's very own Huawei, the design of the Comet easily reminded us of their last outing with the T-Mobile Tap from a year ago. Following the typical design style found with most other touchscreen phones, there isn't anything too striking with the compact (0.50” thick) sized Comet. The mostly plastic exterior is supplemented with a gunmetal like bezel, soft touch coated strips on the sides, and rounded corners to give it a modest look. Even though it's fairly quaint, there is some weight (3.6 oz) to this little slab, but nothing to the point unwieldy. However, we do question its handling on a long term basis as we experienced a portion of the front plate sticking up upon taking it out of its packaging. When you consider its inexpensive price point, it may seem a little much to expect solid construction, but it's still nonetheless concerning from the onset.

You can compare the T-Mobile Comet with many other phones using our Size Visualization Tool.

For $30 less than the LG Optimus T, we're presented with a smaller sized 2.8” QVGA (240 x 320) capacitive touchscreen that has support for 262k colors. The combination of its size and resolution produces some difficult to make out text which lacks any fine lines to stand out. Moreover, colors look washed out and drastically change in tone when viewing at certain angles. And with that in mind, it makes it rather challenging in viewing it outdoors in direct sunlight as you'll need to shield it with your hand. Granted that it doesn't embody any stunning visuals, it's luckily more than responsive in accurately registering any touch.

Directly beneath the display, there is a small strip reserved for the customary capacitive Android buttons – which include the back, menu, home, and search keys. To our surprise, we rarely accidentally hit any of them due to their strategic placement of not being too close to the edges of the phone. Furthermore, it's thanks to the placement of the directional pad and send/end keys at the bottom most portion of the handset that results in minimizing accidental pressing of the capacitive buttons. More than adequate in size, we didn't have any problems using the d-pad – plus its large selection key offers that distinct tactile feel when pressed.

We're not particularly too fond of the recessed dedicated button as we fumbled around in attempt to feel it out, but it's nice to see a 3.5mm headset jack placed accordingly next to it on the top edge of the phone. The right side is completely clean of anything, while the left edge only houses a chrome finished volume rocker that's large enough in size to make out and effortlessly pressed. Finally, the microUSB port is placed on the bottom side of the phone with a pinhole next to it for the microphone.

As we turn it over to its rear, we're greeted to the usual “T-Mobile” and “with Google” brandings, while the 3.2-megapixel camera has a circular cutout for itself with the notches for the speakerphone found next to it. Removing the plastic cover is accomplished by sliding it off which then offers access to the SIM card slot, 1,200 mAh battery, and microSD card slot – the latter of which requires the battery to be removed before being given access.

T-Mobile Comet 360-degree View:

Interface and Functionality:

Without much fluff getting in the way with this inexpensive smartphone, the T-Mobile Comet presents us a faithful stock Android 2.2 Froyo experience that still offers a great deal of personalization. Excitement is surely expected, but it doesn't quite embody the whole Android 2.2 experience you'd expect to find – which we'll share more later with its web browser. Underneath its plastic shell is a 528 MHz Qualcomm MSM 7225 processor beating profusely in handling all the rigors of the platform. As long as you don't use live wallpapers, scrolling between the homescreen is smooth for the most part. However, activating a live wallpaper will quickly show off its jerkiness in beautifying your phone.

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Native syncing of Facebook and Twitter contacts with your address book is on board with the Comet so you can quickly take a peek at status updates within the Contacts app. Although it might be regarded as limitless, you can add as many contacts that the handset's memory can absorb. And for each person, you can associate a myriad of information that range from the essentials to more detailed items like their work address.

The cramped confines of the display will easily test your thumbs in writing out a message with the stock on-screen portrait Android keyboard. Not only will you have to deal with that, but the unresponsive nature of it frustrated us from quickly replying to messages. Although the landscape option aids in the reduction of sore thumbs, it's still a timely process due to the evidence of lag it exhibits. For a more satisfying experience, we prefer using the Swype keyboard seeing that we didn't have to deal with any unresponsive tendencies.

The Gmail experience is untainted as it offers the same level of performance seen with other phones. Meanwhile, the Email app will allow you to set up other email accounts by simply providing an address and password. Ideally, it'll automatically set up most clients, but it might require additional details, like server addresses and ports, to properly set up.

Google Talk is the only instant messaging client on board from the beginning with the T-Mobile Comet, but you can always check out the Android Market to download additional ones.

Lastly, there are only two third party applications installed with the handset – which are Documents To Go for your office productivity suite and Telenav GPS Navigation for your voice guided turn-by-turn directions. Aside from those two, you're presented with the usual mix of Google apps like Latitude, Search, Maps, News and Weather, Navigation, Voice Dialer, Voice Search, and YouTube.

Camera and Multimedia:

There's nothing much to expect out of the 3.2-megapixel camera on the Comet as it dishes up some less than appealing shots. In fact, you'll require a super steady hand which still somehow produces some blurry looking images that lack any fine detail. Additionally, it seems to cast a bluish tinge to most of our shots – which is evident with photos taken in artificial lighting. Low lighting conditions drastically heads to a downward spiral seeing that there is visible evidence of noise in the shots. And to make matters worse, the overall look is diminished with its soft color tones and uninspiring details.

Video recording didn't fare too well since the handset is only capable of shooting low quality videos that have huge amounts of pixelation that doesn't do any justice. Moreover, the capture rate is pretty dismal with its unbelievable jerky visuals that make it look as though a bunch of photos were taken to shoot the entire video. Needless to say that the experience is horrifying to the imagination, but you can't always expect the best out of a free phone.

T-Mobile Comet Sample Video:

When you're listening to some tunes, you're presented with the same old Android music player to satisfy your needs. Presentation is lacking, as it offers the bare essentials, but thankfully it's more than functional at its core. Interestingly enough, we're thoroughly blown away by its stringent audio levels – which is safe to say is glaring and almost deafening. Though, it does sound a bit screechy when it's placed on the highest volume setting.

Only capable of playing smooth low quality videos, the T-Mobile Comet collapses under the stress of having to play anything that's high resolution. We managed to play a video encoded in MPEG-4 320 x 240 resolution and it didn't have any problems at all during playback. However, jumping it up to 640 x 480, it clearly begins to show distinguishable signs of choppiness. Even though it does play well with low quality videos, the quality of its display doesn't exactly make it the most ideal choice.

Amazingly, the free price tag of the T-Mobile Comet also includes a 2GB microSD card preloaded with the handset. We really can't complain since it should get by most people, but if it doesn't, you can always replace it with cards up to 32GB in capacity.

Internet and Connectivity:

Going on a trip overseas? Well, the T-Mobile Comet should get you by during your travel since it boasts quad-band (850/900/1800/1900 MHz) GSM and tri-band UMTS (900/1700/2100 MHz) connectivity. If you require a more reliable data connection, it packs along 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi to get ready for web surfing. And if you prefer using a wireless headset, the Comet's inclusion of Bluetooth 2.1 should get you connected.

Even though it's got Android 2.2 Froyo, the web browsing experience is limited primarily due to the lack of support for Flash 10.1 and multi-touch gestures. Instead, you're going to have to rely on either double tapping or the zoom icons to get a closer look – which isn't the best seeing that the QVGA resolution of the display makes even the smallest of text very challenging to make out. Luckily, scrolling appears to be fairly responsive as it doesn't show off much evidence of lag. Sure it's missing some items, but for those new getting into smartphones, it should be more than gratifying over traditional feature phones.


More than capable of emitting some stern tones from its earpiece, there is some static noise in the background that's fairly noticeable – plus it doesn't help that voices sound distorted. Conversely, our callers state that our voice on their end sounds more hollow than anything else. But when switching to the speakerphone for our conversations, it's able to put out some boisterous tones that make it extremely audible, but unfortunately, voices have a crackly sound to them.

Obtaining an average of -75 dBm in high coverage areas, we didn't experience any vast changes in signal strength during our testing in the greater Philadelphia region.

Battery life seems to be average with the handset as we managed to get by a solid 8 hour work shift without the need of recharging the handset. Light users will most likely be able to pull out a solid day of usage, but it would be wise to plug it to get some needed juice before bed time. With heavy users, you'll want to have a spare charger at work to keep it from completely depleting. The manufacturer has it rated for 9 hours of talk and 288 hours of standby time.


Before making any final remarks about the T-Mobile Comet, you really have to factor in its obscene price of free with a contract. After allowing that to settle in, there are some aspects of the device that can be forgiven due primarily to its super entry-level nature. But when looking closely to what the LG Optimus T is able to offer, the Comet's blemishes begin to stick out like a sore thumb. Things like its questionable construction, lack of multi-touch support, and poor photo taking capabilities does make  its free pricing a bit less desirable. Nonetheless, it still offers all the wonderful features that Android has to offer. And for those with a budget and torn between choosing a feature phone, the T-Mobile Comet makes for a decent transition device. In fact, the T-Mobile Comet is a great solution for whiny kids who really bug their parents for a smartphone because it doesn't involve a costly investment – plus you won't be too hard on yourself if something unfortunate happens to it. But if you're willing to pay more, we'd suggest taking a look at the LG Optimus T.

Software version of the reviewed unit: Android 2.2; Build: U8150V100R001C85B823SP01

T-Mobile Comet Video Review:


  • It's free
  • Stock Android 2.2 experience


  • Lack of multi-touch support
  • Takes poor looking photos
  • Questionable construction

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