What's hot: Compact for a touch screen phone with a full QWERTY.
What's not: Battery life could be better. No 3.5mm headset jack.
Reviewed November 8, 2009 by Tong Zhang, Senor Editor
The Samsung Flight is a touch screen with a full QWERTY keyboard, and it's smaller, lighter and cheaper than the Samsung Impression. The hardware specs and the feature set put the Samsung Flight in competition with the LG Xenon, though the LG Xenon has a side sliding keyboard while the Samsung Flight has a vertical slider. Vertical touch screen sliders are rare among feature phones, and thus the Flight sets itself apart in that respect.
The Samsung Flight (SGH-A797) has a 2.8 inch QVGA touch screen, a 2 megapixel camera, built-in Bluetooth with A2DP, a built-in aGPS that works with AT&T Navigator and Google Maps, 189MB internal multimedia storage and a microSD card slot that supports SDHC cards.
The Samsung Flight is a quad band GSM phone with AT&T 3G bands, and it's available exclusively from AT&T. The phone has fast data speed on AT&T's 3G data network, and works with AT&T's music store, AT&T Mobile Video and Video Share. It's a strong competitor in the mid-tier feature phone bracket.
The Samsung Flight has a 2.8" resistive touch screen with QVGA (240 x 320) resolution. Those who want a bigger display with higher resolution and more brilliant color should check out the Samsung Impression if you can stomach a larger, heavier and more expensive phone. Though not an AMOLED screen, the Samsung Flight's display is color saturated and bright. The touch screen responds to both finger touch and fingernails since it's not capacitive. Like the Samsung Impression, the Samsung Flight's screen has haptic feedback. The traditional mechanical call send and end buttons live below the display. Though it might look like a d-pad with Back in the center, the square-ish Back is just the Back button. The Samsung Flight doesn't have accelerometer, but apps like Netfront web browser offer an on-screen button to switch to landscape mode.
Slide the screen up to reveal the full QWERTY keyboard which is very usable thanks to the soft click feedback when you press a key. The size of the keys isn't that big; if you have a medium to large size fingers, you will likely use your thumb tips or fingernails to press the keys. The 4-row keyboard has bright backlighting and the shared number keys are grouped and labeled in red. The QWERTY keyboard has four directional keys for navigation though they don't work in every application. For example, you can use the direction keys to move about a web page, but for photo viewing, you will need to swipe your finger on the screen to move the photos around.
While the Samsung Flight has a shiny display that does show fingerprints, the back of the phone has a nice texture that's immune to fingerprints. The back curves to give a better grip for the sliding action. A mono speakerphone and the 2.0 megapixel camera live on the back. The back cover is easy to lift open, and the SIM card slot and the spring loaded microSD card slot live under the battery cover but they don't require the removal of the battery to gain access. There are several side buttons that are easy to press accidentally. Thankfully there is a screen lock button on the right side, which can prevent any button action when activated.
The Samsung Flight is a quad band GSM phone with AT&T's 3G support. The phone gets good signal strength and the voice quality is also quite good. The Samsung supports most call management features and has the excellent Nuance voice dialing and voice command software. The phone book on the Samsung Flight has space for 1000 entries, and you can assign 8 numbers for one-touch speed dialing. The Samsung Flight also supports Video Share, AT&T's one way video call between phones with 3G Video Share services. Video Share subscribers can select the Video Share button during a call. The Samsung Flight has AT&T's icon-based UI instead of the Samsung TouchWiz UI. The phone feels speedy on AT&T's 3G data network. Actions over the 3G network, such as loading web pages, streaming video, navigation using aGPS, are fast and reliable.
For the online social addicts, the Samsung Flight has plug-ins to Facebook, Twitter and mySpace (under MyStuff/Applications/AT&T Social Net). For mobile email, the Samsung includes AT&T's own service, AOL, Yahoo and Windows Live email accounts.
GPS And AT&T Navigator
The phone gets good GPS signal, and has the cold start under a minute and the position fixes are fast and mostly accurate. The Samsung Flight works with AT&T Navigator powered by TeleNav. The phone feels speedy when AT&T Navigator is mapping routes, loading 3D maps and doing searches. The turn-by-turn driving directions are spot-on and the voice guidance is clear and loud through the mono speaker. The screen is viewable even outdoors for map viewing. The phone doesn't have the lag we've seen on some feature phones during trip navigation. AT&T Navigator isn't free but it offers local searches in addition to the real time navigation and voice guided turn-by-turn directions.
Google Maps mobile works on the Samsung Flight and has Map view, Satellite view and in some areas Street view. You can search for locations, get directions and traffic info, but it doesn't have all the features in AT&T Navigation. Google Maps is a free app, you can download it from google.com/gmm
Music and Video
The Samsung Flight supports AT&T Music store and has many AT&T music services (not all free) pre-installed including XM Radio, MusicID, Music Video, Make UR Tones and Music Community. The built-in music player can play songs in MP3, AAC, Real and WMV formats. Audio quality via the built-in speaker is decent with clear sound and loud volume. But with the single speaker, the audio doesn't sound full and the bass isn't very powerful. The Samsung doesn't have a 3.5mm jack, which means it requires wired headsets compatible with Samsung's new micro blade connector, and the phone doesn't come with one. We tested Bluetooth stereo headsets with the Samsung Flight and the audio sounded nice via the Jabra HALO with clear channel separation and fuller audio. Bass wasn't very strong but good enough for music in most genres.
The Samsung Flight has 189MB internal multimedia memory (shared between MP3 and camera photos) and has a microSD card slot that supports up to 16GB SDHC cards.
The Samsung Flight works with AT&T Mobile Video, an on-demand video service, not the broadcast digital TV which is called AT&T Mobile TV. Mobile Video plays smoothly and buffers at a fast speed thanks to AT&T's 3G and the phone's fast processor. AT&T Mobile Video is included with the unlimited data plan and it offers plenty of content including news, weather, sports, music and entertainment news, clips, TV show clips and previews as well as full episodes from popular TV channels and cable like HBO (some cable shows require a fee).
The Samsung Flight has a 2 megapixel camera that takes decent photos and videos. Still images are reasonably good quality with enough details and good color balance. Some outdoor shots are a little overexposed. It certainly isn't the Samsung Memoir, but for a 2 megapixel camera phone, the Samsung Flight takes decent photos. The phone has a camera launch button which also acts as the shutter button. The position of the button is too centered on the device and you might block the screen (which acts as the viewfinder) a little bit with your hand when you are trying to press the shutter button. The camera software offers white balance, effects, night shots, saving options as well as Geo-tagging. The camera phone can also record video in QVGA and 176 x 144 resolutions, and the clips look smooth with audio in sync to the video.
The Samsung Flight has a rechargeable battery that's 1000 mAh in capacity. The battery life is decent considering the phone has a large display and 3G. The claimed talk time is 3 hours and the claimed standby time is 15 days. Tasks such as watching Mobile Video, using GPS navigation with voice guided turn-by-turn directions and constantly surfing on the web have a significant impact on the battery runtime.
If you want a QWERTY phone but don't dig those larger horizontal slider phones, the Flight is appealing. It competes with the LG Xenon with similar specs and features including HSDPA, stereo Bluetooth, GPS and music and video playback. The Samsung Flight has a straightforward icon-based UI that's easy to understand, and the phone feels fast at performing most tasks. It's nice to have a full HTML browser for the web surfers, we only wish that the Mobile Web icon launched the Netfront browser instead of the WAP browser. The spacious internal storage and the SDHC microSD card slot are great for music lovers, but the phone doesn't have a 3.5mm jack and doesn't include a Samsung proprietary headset.
Pro: Compact for a touch screen phone with a full QWERTY. The keyboard is very usable. The phone has good speed.
Con: Battery life could be better. No 3.5mm headset jack.
Display: 2.8", 260K color touch screen. Resolution: 240 x 320.
Battery: Lithium Ion rechargeable. Battery is user replaceable. 1000 mAh. Claimed talk time: up to 3 hours. Claimed standby: up to 15 days.
Performance: Undisclosed CPU. 189 megs internal media storage. Can store 1000 phone book entries.
Size: 4.17 x 2.2 x 0.5 inches. Weight: 4.8 ounces.
Phone: GSM quad band world phone (850/900/1800/1900
MHz), with 3G HSDPA on the US AT&T bands (850/1900MHz).
Camera: 2.0 megapixel with fixed focus lens. Max photo resolution: 1600 x 1200. Max video resolution: 320 x 240, also supports MMS 176 x 144 resolution. Supports AT&T's Video Share one-way video conferencing feature.
Audio: Built in speaker and mic. Voice Recorder and music player can play music files in MP3, AAC, WMA and Real formats. 72-note polyphonic music tones and MP3 music tones.
Networking: Bluetooth 2.0 +EDR. Bluetooth profiles: headset, hands-free, DUN, A2DP, AVRC, SPP serial port, object push, basic printing and file transfer
Software: Proprietary OS with touch screen icon-based UI. PIM applications include contacts, calendar, tasks, memo, calculator, sketchpad, tip calculator, world clock, converter, timer, stopwatch and alarm. Netfront HTML web browser included, also CV, AT&T Mobile Email, IM client (AIM, Yahoo and Windows Live), photo viewer, video player, Java runtime and game demos.
Expansion: 1 SDHC microSD card slot (supports cards up to 16 gigs).
In the Box: The Samsung Flight, standard battery, AC charger, CD with user manual, device tutorial and USB drivers and printed manual.