What's hot: TouchWiz 2.0, incredible array of features.
What's not: Occasionally slow despite very fast CPU, some quirks.
Reviewed August 23, 2009 by Lisa Gade, Editor
The Samsung Jet isn't just a phone, it's a billboard for every feature Samsung can squeeze into a handset. We can just imagine the higher-ups handing this phone over to carriers around the world, saying "here's everything we can serve up. Pick three features from column A, two from column B. . . or take 'em all!". Nope, I'm not exaggerating, here's the short list:
TouchWiz 2.0 touch UI
800 x 480 pixel 3.1" AMOLED display
Haptics and accelerometer
Accelerometer is used for call silencing, application control, auto speakerphone switching and more.
An additional 3D user interface
800MHz CPU (really, on a feature phone!)
2 gigs of internal memory
5 megapixel autofocus camera that can shoot 720 pixel wide video
Bluetooth with A2DP
DivX certification for video playback
3G HSDPA (not for the US though)
Samsung's Dolphin full HTML web browser
Microsoft Exchange ActiveSync
If you thought your Samsung Eternity or Samsung Behold was pretty cool, the Jet is here to show you the future. How soon that future arrives via a US carrier likely depends on the economy and how much they think you're willing to spend on a very high end feature phone. But certainly some of these features will find their way into US handsets, and assuredly one will be TouchWiz 2.0.
The Samsung Jet is currently available only as an unlocked GSM import that sells between $400 and $475. It's quad band unlocked GSM with EDGE that will work with any GSM carrier. It has 3G for Europe and Asia only-- not US 3G. But there's always WiFi to fall back on for faster data. We tested the phone with both AT&T and T-Mobile and each worked well for calls. We noted a bug with T-Mobile where data settings mysteriously stopped working and we had to delete and recreate data connection settings to get things working again. This may be a bug with the particular firmware version on our Euro handset, or it might be more pervasive. Data speeds with both carriers average 140k on EDGE. That's good enough for email downloads but web browsing on full HTML sites is a bit slow and widgets that rely on a data connection (weather, CNN news and etc.) took 20 to 30 seconds to refresh. Widget download times were good, since these are very small applets.
Call quality is good and volume is average while the speakerphone is super-loud and clear. In fact it sounds very good for video playback and system sounds are loud and full (we had to turn down the sounds that accompany haptic feedback a few notches since it was so loud).
Though made of plastic, the Jet escapes looking cheap thanks to a tasteful design and a unique reflective back. It's black with bands of red that catch and reflect the light, looking something like a car's tail lens (only striped). The phone is as slim as the Samsung Eternity but a little narrower. Its curved corners make it look noticeably smaller than the Samsung Behold and Eternity, though it isn't actually that much smaller.
Here's our 10 minute video review of the Samsung Jet. It provides a walk around the device and covers the TouchWiz 2.0 user interfaces (2D and 3D), widgets, on-screen keyboards, web browser and more.
Touch Wiz 2.0 and Performance
The Jet is the first TouchWiz 2.0 phone on the market, but we're sure others will follow quickly. Sadly, it's unlikely that existing 1.0 models will see an upgrade to 2.0, so don't expect to see this on your Eternity, Behold or Memoir. Most user interface conventions and elements remain the same, so there's virtually no learning curve if you're used to TouchWiz 1.0. What is new is the three screen home screen; similar to Android on the T-Mobile MyTouch 3G (HTC Magic) and the G1, you can flick your finger left and right to see two additional screens. This is a godsend since one screen wasn't enough to hold a decent number of widgets. Now you can clutter three screen's worth and even impose some order on the chaos by putting news and weather widgets on one screen, calendar and reminders on another and so on. Samsung's selection of widgets are useful: WiFi control, Bluetooth control, notepad, month-view calendar, Facebook, YouTube and MySpace, profiles, music playback control, CNN Mobile, Google (shortcuts to search, gmail and maps), international news sources such as Das Bild (this is a Euro phone), Yahoo finance, weather, a calculator, a widget that controls widget settings and a widget to download more widgets. The Facebook, MySpace and YouTube widgets are merely shortcuts to the mobile websites for these services. Widgets start life on the widget bar on the left side of the screen. Using widget settings you can hide those that you don't want and you can download new widgets from Samsung. Samsung has released an SDK so that others can make widgets for TouchWiz too, which is promising. When you run most widgets, they pop out onto the "desktop" or home screen and take up some real estate. Though the Jet's resolution is much higher at 800 x 480 pixels than our US TouchWiz phones, you don't really see more on the home screen (effectively, the home screen and programs palette resolutions are the same as older models). That means you won't go blind looking at tiny fonts, but you also won't be able to fit more widgets on a given screen (hence the new 3-screen system).
If that's not enough, there's a second, 3D UI that you launch using a side button. Watch our video review to see a demo of this UI. It's used for launching a selection of programs such as the browser, music player and video player and you select these by spinning the on-screen cube with your finger or by shaking the phone. We found that the 3D UI was a bit slow and that shaking the phone to navigate the UI wasn't very reliable. The music player responds to phone shakes too, but we didn't get consistent results.
For a phone with an 800MHz CPU, the Jet doesn't feel faster than the Samsung Eternity or other Samsung touch screen feature phones. Perhaps few firmware revisions and optimizations will improve things, but we did see occasional minor lags when moving through the applications menu and when switching between home screen pages. There are a variety of pre-installed Java games, and these ran surprisingly slowly, even a BrickBreaker game with fairly low resolution graphics. Where the Jet does shine is video recording and playback. We loaded an SDHC microSD card with movies in AVI and MPEG4 formats and the phone handled 480 x 360 video encoded at high bit rates well.
The Jet's 3.1" display is responsive and quite good for a resistive display. We did occasionally note it missing our tap the first time, but overall it's a pleasure to use. Lists are controllable and the browser supports inertia scrolling.
Dolphin, the full HTML web browser
The Samsung Jet has a very good 5 megapixel camera with autofocus lens and dual LED flash. Image quality is a bit above the Samsung Behold but below the 8 megapixel Samsung Memoir and Sony Ericsson C905a for finer detail and noise. That said, even discerning photo buffs should be pleased with the Jet's photo quality and selection of settings. These include scene modes (portrait, landscape, night, sport, party/indoor, beach/snow, dawn, sunset, fall color, fireworks, tex, candlelight and backlight), EV, flash control, white balance, metering (matrix, center-weighted, spot), ISO (auto, 100, 200, 400 and 800), anti-shake, WDR, focus mode (auto focus, macro, face detection), image quality, blink detection and manual adjustments for contrast, saturation and sharpness. In short, you've got as many options as a mid to high level point and shoot camera. Sweet!
You can save photos and videos directly to a microSD card and the phone supports SDHC cards. The card lives under the back cover, but you need not remove the battery to access the card.
Video recording specs are impressive, and the Jet can record 30fps video at 720 x 480 resolution. Alas, those videos are blocky, noisy and have excessive contrast. Video quality doesn't match the impressive resolution spec, and it doesn't compete with Nokia N series 5 megapixel camera phones that can shoot VGA video or the iPhone 3GS.
Reds, especially the gloss reds of ornamental chile peppers give camera phones and point and shoot cameras fits, but the Samsung Jet did a good job. The reds don't bloom or white out.
Above: a photo taken a 5MP resolution. Below, a 100% crop detail from that photo.
The Samsung Jet S8000 is the kind of handset phone geeks drool over. It's got every feature under the sun except mobile TV rolled into a slim and attractive package. And surprisingly it's small, light and relatively reasonably priced. The camera is excellent for still shots, downloadable widgets and TouchWiz 2.0 give new life to Samsung's platform and it's a pleasure to see WiFi on a feature phone. TouchWiz 2.0 is new and we experienced growing pains on the Jet, including its seeming dislike of T-Mobile for reliable data connections, UI slow downs and a balky 3D UI with motion detection that seems more like a gimmick. On the upside, the phone can sync to Outlook using the included Samsung PC Studio, it supports Exchange ActiveSync email and it has WiFi to make up for the lack of US 3G.
Pro: Price is nice for all those features. Small and light, nice looking. Has WiFi and a very good user interface for controlling WiFi and Bluetooth connections. Good video playback performance. Downloadable widgets keep boredom from setting in. Takes excellent photos. Very easy to understand UI. Supports Exchange email and PC syncing.
Con: Bugs and niggles with balky 3D UI, poor game performance and issues with T-Mobile data connections. Camera takes mediocre video, despite the high resolution. No US 3G.
Display:AMOLED color touch screen. Screen size diagonally: 3.1". Resolution:
800 x 480, supports both portrait and landscape modes via accelerometer.
Ion rechargeable. Battery is user replaceable.
1100 mA. Claimed talk time: up to 3 hours, claimed standby 10 days.
Performance:800MHz CPU. 2 gigs internal storage with approximately 1.5 gigs free. Phone book holds up to 2,000 records and 200 SMS messages.
x 2.10 x 0.47 inches. Weight: 3.88 ounces.
Phone:GSM quad band world phone with EDGE. 3G HSDPA on the 900/2100MHz bands for Europe and Asia.
GPS:Yes, internal aGPS.
Camera:5 megapixel autofocus with 4x digital zoom and dual LED flash. Can shoot video up to 720 x 480 resolution.
in speaker, mic and 3.5mm standard stereo headphone
jack. Has voice recorder, music player, video player and FM radio with RDS. Supports MP3 ringtones and DRM music.
WiFi 802.11b/g and Bluetooth.
Software:TouchWiz 2.0 user interface with widgets. Dolphin web browser, email client, SmSM/MMS client, video player, MS Exchange ActiveSync, music player, calendar, contacts, memos, tasks, alarms, My Files (file manager), FM radio, voice recorder, demo games, stop watch, timer, unit converter, world clock, calculator and WiFi manager. Supports downloadable Java games and applications.
SDHC microSD card slot supporting cards up to 16 gigs.