Reviewed December 12, 2008 by Tong Zhang, Senior Editor
Samsung Mobile has been busy this holiday season with full QWERTY feature phones. The Samsung Gravity for T-Mobile joins the Samsung Propel for AT&T and the Samsung Rant for Sprint in the QWERTY phone line up and offers a candy bar phone with a side slider QWERTY keyboard. The Samsung Gravity has good messaging support and comes with the Netfront web browser, a 1.3 megapixel camera with video capture capability, Bluetooth A2DP stereo support and a music player. The phone has ample internal memory and a microSD card slot for storing music and applications.
The Samsung Gravity is a quad band GSM world phone with 850/900/1800/1900 MHz support but it doesn’t have 3G data support. Unlike the Samsung Propel or the Samsung Rant, the Samsung Gravity doesn’t come with a GPS or streaming media services (like Sprint TV or AT&T CV) as T-Mobile has yet to offer them. The Samsung Gravity currently comes in two colors: Aqua and Lime.
The Samsung Gravity measures 4.53 x 2.07 x 0.70 inches and weighs 4.3 ounces with the standard battery. The phone feels good in hand with a smooth back cover and has some heft thanks to the slider. The Samsung has a useable QWERTY keyboard. The keys are larger than those on many texting feature phones, like the T-Mobile Sidekick, and they click when you type on them. Bu there isn’t much travel and the surface of the keys is a little slippery. The 3-row keyboard has number and symbol keys combined with the 1st and 2nd row of letter keys and there is no number cluster on the QWERTY keyboard (use the front number keys to dial). The only odd key placement is the “B” key which is on the right side of the space bar. Unlike the Samsung Rant, the Samsung Gravity doesn’t have shoulder keys on the top slider, rather it offers two long vertical keys on the keyboard for menu functions plus an OK button on the upper left corner. The slider feels well built and the sliding action is tight. There is strong backlighting on both the front number keypad and the full QWERTY keyboard, making it easy to use the phone in the dark.
Side buttons are minimal; they include volume up and down, the camera key, charging port and a microSD card slot that’s easy to access. The camera lives on the back with a large self-portrait mirror and the SIM card slot lives under the battery.
Phone Features and Web
With the slider closed the Samsung Gravity looks no different from a regular candy bar phone. The Samsung gets good reception on T-Mobile but not exceptional. Voice quality is good and we experienced no dropped calls. The Samsung’s contacts database can store up to 1000 contacts with up to 3 numbers for each entry. The phone supports caller ID, call forwarding, call waiting, three-way calling and has 8 speed dialing numbers. The Samsung Gravity doesn’t have voice dialing but it does support T-Mobile’s myFaves services. We tested Bluetooth headsets with the Samsung Gravity and found voice quality quite good on both incoming and outgoing ends. The DSP worked reasonably well though it had trouble with wind noise. The range was about 20-25 feet which is quite good for mono Bluetooth headsets.
As a messaging phone, the Samsung Gravity supports SMS, MMS (picture, audio and video) and has an Audio Postcard feature, which frames your audio messages. The phone also comes with IM (AIM, Yahoo, ICQ and Windows Live), and web-based email such as AOL, Yahoo, Gmail and many more. For surfing the web, the phone comes with the Netfront browser that can display WAP sites and full HTML sites. The browser has both desktop view and fit the screen options, and it displays most full HTML pages with images intact. Like many feature phones, the browser on the Samsung Gravity has trouble with dHTML (fancier layout elements).
The Samsung Gravity comes with a full compliment of PIM tools. These include Calendar, Tasks, Notes, Calculator, Tip calculator, Alarm, World Time, Unit Converter, Timer, Stopwatch and Voice Recorder.
Music and Gaming
As a texting-centric phone without 3G support, the Samsung Gravity doesn’t offer as much multimedia support as the AT&T Quickfire or the Samsung Rant on Sprint. But the Gravity is a very decent music player and mobile gaming machine. The speakerphone has very good audio quality in both music playback and gaming, and music through Bluetooth stereo headsets sound great. The Samsung Gravity uses its own blade-style headset jack and the package comes with a mono wired headset. You can purchase a stereo wired headset separately. The music play can play music files in MP3, MIDI, AAC/AAC+ formats. We tested songs ripped from CDs using iTunes and they played fine on the Gravity. The phone has 60MB of internal memory to store music and applications, and the microSD card slot supports high capacity cards. We tested our SDHC microSD cards with the phone and they worked well.
Games played smoothly on the Samsung Gravity, even 3D games like Call of Duty World at War. These Java games take a bit longer to download over EDGE compared to 3G speed, but it isn’t bad at all. The d-pad on the Samsung Gravity is by no means large, but it’s adequate as game control in most games.
Like the AT&T Quickfire, the Samsung Gravity comes with a 1.3 megapixel camera that takes still images and videos with audio. The photo quality isn’t impressive in terms of detail and sharpness, though color balance is good. Outdoor shots look better than indoor shots in terms of noise, though there’s plenty of white out in bright outdoor shots. The Gravity camera phone offers 6 still image resolutions ranging from 1.3 megapixel (1280 x 1024 pixels) to messaging size (220 x 165 pixels). It also offers multi-shot mode and settings for white balance, effects and frames. The camera phone also takes decent video with audio. You can record video in three resolutions (176 x 144, 160 x 120 and 128 x 96 pixels) and in three lengths (messaging, email or no limit).
The Samsung Gravity comes with a rechargeable Lithium-Ion battery that’s 800mAh in capacity. The battery isn’t impressive for a phone that doesn’t have 3G or GPS. Talk time is good however, reaching over 5 hours. But standby time is well short of the claimed 12 days. Downloading games and viewing web sites via t-zones use up battery fast but playing music and keeping Bluetooth turned on consume relatively little power.
The Samsung Gravity is the only full QWERTY slider feature phone on T-Mobile outside of the T- Sidekick (we count the G1 as a smartphone), and that clearly gives it an edge for those who want the full keyboard but not a smartphone or a Sidekick. Though it doesn’t have 3G like QWERTY feature phones on other US carriers, it has a very useable keyboard, a good music player and Stereo Bluetooth. For power users, the phone is hobbled by T-Mobile’s lack of support for streaming media, GPS and music store.
Pro:Good amount of internal memory. Well built. Good audio and comes with a wired headset. Has good gaming experience.
Con: Lacks GPS and streaming video features. Battery life could be better.
Price: $49.99 with 2-year contract after mail-in rebate and discount.
Display: 2.2” 262K color TFT screen. Resolution: 176 x 220 pixels.
Battery: Lithium Ion rechargeable battery, 800 mAh, user replaceable. Claimed talk time: up to 6 hours. Claimed standby time: up to 12 days.
Performance: 60MB internal memory. Phone book can store 1000 entries.
Size: 4.5 x 2.1 x 0.7 inches. Weight: 4.3 oz.
Phone: Quad band GSM world phone. 850/900/1800/1900MHz. GPRS/EDGE for data.
Camera: 2 megapixel with up to 8x digital zoom. Support multi-shot feature. Still image resolutions: 1280 x 960, 640 x 480, 320 x 240. Can take video with audio.
Audio: Supports 72- Note Polyphonic Ringtones, MegaTones, HiFi Ringers and MP3 music tones. MP3 player onboard to play music in MIDI, MP3, AAC and AAC+ formats. Can record voice memo. Supports vibration alert.
Networking: Bluetooth v2.0. Supported profiles: headset, hands-free, A1DP, AVRCP, Serial Port, Object Push (vCard only), FTP, Basic Print and phone book access. USB 2.0.
Software: Supports myFaves. Netfront HTML browser and Web-based IM on board. PIM tools include Contacts, Calendar, Tasks, Notes, Calculator, Tip calculator, Alarm, World Time, Unit Converter, Timer, Stopwatch.