The Samsung Conquer 4G is Sprint's most affordable 4G phone at launch. It sells for $99 with a 2 year contract, and it packs some solid features into a mid-sized handset. The Conquer 4G runs Android OS 2.3.4 Gingerbread, currently the latest version of Google's OS for phones, and it's a nearly pure version of Android. For those of you who like clean phones that are unfettered by UI customizations, that's an attractive proposition. Since the Conquer supports Sprint ID packs, you don't have to stay vanilla for long if you prefer a healthy smattering of Sprint apps and services on your phone. In fact, there are quite a few ID packs to choose from beyond the standard Sprint pack.
We're a little surprised that the Conquer 4G doesn't use Samsung's 1GHz Hummingbird CPU. Instead it has a 1GHz second generation Qualcomm Snapdragon CPU with Adreno 205 graphics. That's a fast and competent CPU, though it won't run circles around dual core CPUs (hey, the phone is only $99). It handled Sprint ID packs, Sprint TV, Adobe Flash Player 10.3 and 3D gaming just fine. But some higher end games that are designed for 800 x 480 pixel displays may not run on this HVGA 320 x 480, 3.5" capacitive display. Speaking of the display, it's a run of the mill LCD that's serviceable but lacks Samsung's Super AMOLED color saturation and the clarity of higher resolution displays. You'll have to zoom more in web pages due to the low resolution display, and both photos and fonts won't have the sharpness you'd see with the higher resolution HTC EVO Shift 4G, Samsung Epic 4G or HTC EVO 4G.
The Conquer 4G has 3G EV-DO Rev. A and 4G WiMAX. You'll pay $10/month extra for 4G even if you don't live in a 4G coverage area, so for that $120/year additional cost, we suggest you consider this phone only if you're interested in using 4G. Reception on Sprint's 3G network is quite good, and we got better than average download speeds according to Ookla's Speedtest.net app. The phone averaged 800k down and 400k up, which is good for our area. 4G WiMAX coverage is outdoors only in our neighborhood in the Dallas metroplex, and with a middling signal outdoors we averaged 3.5Mbps down and 1.1Mbps up. That's not as fast as Verizon LTE by a long shot, and it's about half what we get on T-Mobile's 4G HSPA+ network, but coverage is a regional thing, and when we drove to downtown Dallas we saw speeds improve to 7.5Mpbs down.
Voice quality was excellent for calls with clear and full audio on both ends. The speaker is average in terms of volume and quality, and it's suitable for quiet rooms and sedans. The Conquer 4G can act as a high speed mobile hotspot and share its 3G/4G connection over WiFi with tablets, laptops and other WiFi-toting gear.
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Samsung Conquer 4G Video Review
In terms of look and build quality, the Samsung is an understated black slab with mechanical front buttons and a chrome strip around the sides that livens up the look. We like the rubbery-feeling back that's grippy and doesn't show fingerprints. We also like the dedicated camera button, and the 3.2 megapixel rear main camera takes passable shots. The phone has a front camera and it comes with the Qik video chat app. Calls were a bit blocky but the service worked as promised.
The smartphone scored 1136 on the Quadrant benchmark; about 200 points lower than the HTC EVO Shift 4G (now reduced to $99 with contract) and 350 points better than the dual screen Kyocera Echo. The Conquer 4G feels responsive in most tasks, though it takes longer to completely load the desktop YouTube website vs. the high end Motorola Photon 4G. It feels a bit faster than last year's flagship Samsung Epic 4G, likely because it's not running Samsung's TouchWiz UI and software that takes its toll on performance.
The Conquer 4G has the usual WiFi 802.11b/g/n, Bluetooth and a GPS that works with Google Maps and Navigation as well as TeleNav (Sprint Navigation). It has 512 megs of RAM and approximately 430 megs of available internal storage. The phone ships with a 2 gig microSD card that's pre-installed in a slot under the back cover (no need to remove the battery to access the card).
Battery life is usually a pain point for Sprint 4G phones, but the Conquer 4G uses very aggressive 4G radio power management, and we had no trouble making it through the day with 4G turned on. If you use 4G heavily to stream video or use the phone as a mobile hotspot, you might not make it to bedtime before hitting the charger, but when not heavily using those demanding services the 1500 mAh Lithium Ion battery did indeed last from 7am to 11pm.
If you want an affordable 4G Sprint phone and have no desire for the thicker hardware QWERTY slider designs, the Samsung Conquer 4G is a well-equipped phone for $99 with contract. The year old HTC EVO 4G sells for the same price and it offers a larger, higher resolution display, but it is last year's model, and it has a much larger footprint and shorter battery life. The phone comes with all the goodies including Sprint TV, Navigation, Adobe Flash Player and a full suite of Google apps. Our only complaint is the low resolution display.
Price: $99 with a 2 year contract, $399 without contract
Display:3.5" capacitive multi-touch LCD. Resolution:
320 x 480, supports both portrait and landscape modes via acceleromter. Has an ambient light sensor.
Battery:1500 mAh Lithium
Ion rechargeable. Battery is user replaceable.
Performance:1GHz single core Qualcomm Snapdragon CPU with Adreno 205 graphics. 512 megs RAM, ~430 megs available internal storage.
x 2.38 x 0.46 inches. Weight: 4.1 ounces.
Phone:CDMA dual band digital with 3G EV-DO Rev. A and 4G WiMAX.
Camera:3.2MP rear camera with LED flash and front video chat camera (comes with Qik video chat software)
in speaker, mic and 3.5mm standard stereo headphone
WiFi 802.11b/g/n and Bluetooth.
Software:Android OS 2.3 Gingerbread. Adobe Flash Player, Sprint ID, standard suite of Google Android apps including Market, web browser, email, gmail and YouTube player. With downloadable free Sprint ID packs you can add TeleNav Navigation, Sprint TV, NASCAR, Sprint Football, Sprint Radio and more.