What's not: Camera is low end, standby time isn’t long enough.
Reviewed June 11, 2010 by Tong Zhang, Senior Editor
In what seems to be an endless number of QWERTY phones from Sprint, the Samsung Seek has an undistinguished look yet very functional design. It has a large and responsive touch screen, a very easy-to-use interface furnished with categories to help you find applications, and a roomy keyboard. With an attractive price (well, how does free with a contract sound?), the Samsung Seek is a great starter phone for a younger texter. Without the expense of 3G services like mobile TV, the Sprint music store and other distractions, the Samsung Seek has most essentials covered: built-in Bluetooth with A2DP, a music player, microSD card slot, 1.3 megapixel camera and a full set of messaging, IM and social networking options. The Samsung Seek currently comes in two colors: blue and red.
Design and Ergonomics
The Samsung Seek has a generic QWERTY phone design in two tone colors: the front and back of the phone are black and the keyboard has a blue or red surround depending on the color option you choose. The Samsung Seek has a 2.6” touch screen that’s responsive and offers both audio and haptic feedback to the touch. The screen is QVGA resolution and looks reasonably bright with good colors, but it’s almost completely washed out in sunlight. There are three hardware buttons below the display including the dialer screen and home screen launchers and the back button.
The QWERTY keyboard feels roomy and the keys on the 4-row keyboard are large and easy to press. The keyboard layout is normal with no odd key placements, and 4 directional keys on the right bottom corner provide convenience for menu navigation. A novice QWERTY phone user will find the keyboard intuitive and easy to use. The Samsung Seek also has a dedicated camera launch button on the side along with the screen lock/Power key that comes in handy for turning off the touch screen when inactive. Both the charging port and microSD card slot are easy to access on the side of the phone, and the Samsung Seek also has a 3.5mm audio jack as well as a phone charm holder. The Samsung Seek has a rear-firing speaker that sounds loud with good quality when playing music.
Phone Features and Reception
The Samsung Seek has decent reception getting half of full bars of signal in good coverage areas, and voice quality is good. The Samsung has built-in Bluetooth that works with both mono and stereo Bluethooth headsets. The phone comes with the excellent Nuance voice command software for voice dialing and voice searching, etc., and the phone’s speaker is loud and clear for voice conversations.
The Samsung Seek has an easy-to-use phone interface that has tabs for accessing 8 favorite numbers with caller IDs, contacts, recent history and the dialer screen. The phone book can hold up to 600 contact entries and everything is well integrated and linked logically. The phone can also store up to 99 speed dials in its 128MB internal RAM, and 150 numbers in the call log. You can add a caller ID photo to each contact entry by taking new pictures with the built-in camera or selecting an image from stored photos.
With a full QWERTY onboard, the Samsung Seek offers a host of email services including Yahoo Mail, Hotmail, Gmail, AOL and MS Exchange. The Seek offers to walk you through the email set-up process which makes it easier on first time mobile email users. Like most phones, the Samsung Seek can send SMS and pictures to other phone numbers or email accounts. Popular IM clients are onboard as well including AIM, Yahoo Messenger and Windows Live Messenger. The Samsung Seek also has one-click login for accessing your Twitter, MySpace and Facebook accounts.
Wirefly price (no rebate required):
The Samsung Seek doesn’t have 3G and only has 1xRTT for data, so surfing the web and accessing multimedia content is limited. The phone comes with the Access NetFront 3.5.1 web browser that works with WAP sites as well as HTML sites though real HTML pages are hard to read partially because the web browser doesn’t do a great job of rendering layouts and partially because the QVGA screen resolution doesn’t provide much real estate for HTML pages. Since much of Sprint’s multimedia content such as the Sprint Music Store, Sprint TV and Sprint’s full navigation service require 3G, the Samsung Seek doesn’t have access to any of these services. There is a music player built-in though, and you can play tunes on the Seek if you load them on a microSD card. The music player works with MP3 files, but there’s no AAC support for iTunes songs. Location-based service is limited to Family locator only.
The Seek has a 1.3 megapixel camera that takes still photos but not video. The still images are passable for keeping snapshots of moments, but they have noticeable noise and pictures don’t look impressive. The camera sensor gets flakey at times, which disorients the color balance as well as brightness setting. If the lighting conditions are right, photos can have good exposure and balanced colors. Indoor shots show more noise as you’d expect. You can save the photos to the phone or to a microSD card, or send them via picture mail or Bluetooth.
The Samsung Seek has a rechargeable battery that’s 1000 mAh in capacity. For a phone that doesn’t have 3G and battery draining services like Sprint TV or Sprint Navigation, the Samsung Seek’s battery life is surprisingly short. The claimed talk time is 5.8 hours but we never passed 5 hours in talk time. Standby time is surprisingly short also with the phone lasting only 4-5 days in our tests.
Today’s young mobile phone users center their needs on messaging and social networking, and an inexpensive QWERTY phone with an easy to use interface and full messaging and social networking is a good place to start. If you don’t need a smartphone or multimedia services tied to 3G, the Samsung Seek has all the essentials at lower monthly cost without requiring a smartphone data plan. The touch screen works very smoothly and the QWERTY keyboard is very nice. The phone feels well built and rugged enough to mix with books and school gear in a backpack.
Pro: Easy-to-use UI, nice keyboard.
Con: Camera is low end, standby time isn’t long enough.
Price: Free with 2-year contract after online discount. $229.99 without contract.