Home > Phone Reviews > Samsung Trance SCH-U490
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What's hot: Good looking slider phone with good audio and a very nice music player.
What's not: No 3G EVDO or music download over the air. Can’t record video.
Reviewed May 21, 2009 by Tong Zhang, Senior Editor
The Samsung Trance is the latest music phone from Verizon Wireless with enhanced audio courtesy of Bang & Olufsen’s ICEpower amp. The slider phone has ample internal memory and a built-in music player that can play mp3, non-copy-protected iTunes music and Windows Media format music. Like the popular LG Chocolate 3, the Samsung Trance has touch sensitive front buttons with haptic vibration. The phone also has a built-in GPS, a 1.3 megapixel camera, Bluetooth with A2DP and a standard 3.5mm stereo audio jack, all packaged into a stylish slider that’s available in Piano Black and Electric Red.
But multimedia fans who are looking to upgrade from your LG Chocolate phones should know that the Samsung Trance doesn’t support EVDO 3G. It does work with the V CAST Music with Rhapsody, but you will need to download the music to a PC and then transfer the tracks to your phone. Other multimedia services such as the V CAST Video are not available on the Samsung Trance since it lacks EVDO.
The Verizon feature phone collection is dominated by flip phones. For those who want a slider phone, the Samsung Trance is appealing. The phone has a sporty form and curves that make it comfortable in hand, though the surface is slippery. The phone has a 2.1” display and the touch sensitive d-pad, shoulder keys, music launcher and back key live below the display. They disappear into the shiny piano black surface when the phone is asleep, and light up when you activate the controls. You can turn haptic vibration on or off and set different vibration levels. The call send and end buttons live on the slide-out number pad.
Unlike the Samsung Sway, another slider phone from Verizon, the Samsung Trance isn’t particularly thin. Measuring 4.0 x 1.97 x 0.55 inches, the Samsung Trance has plenty of room for side buttons. You will find the microSD card slot, key lock, volume rocker and the phone charm holes on the left side; and the Samsung blade-style charging/syncing port, speakerphone key and a standard 3.5mm headphone jack on the right side of the phone. The powerful speaker lives on the back of the phone and the 1.3 megapixel camera reveals itself when you slide open the phone.
Phone Features and Reception
The Samsung Trance gets a meager signal though surprisingly it has not dropped a call even with only 1 bar of signal. The audio is excellent on the incoming end and very good on the outgoing. The Samsung has comprehensive voice command software for not only voice dialing but also searching contacts for email addresses, phone numbers, etc., launching applications, playing all music tracks, checking the phone’s various status and more. The voice recognition was accurate without any voice training in our tests, but the software does offer an option to train it to better adapt to your voice. Voice command can also do some menu and text message readouts, the voice is digitized rather than natural, but it’s completely clear and very easy to understand. The Samsung Trance has a contacts database that can store up to 1,000 entries and each contact can have 5 numbers, 2 email addresses, street address, picture ID, ringtone and more. The phone also offers 1-touch, 2-touch and 3-touch speed dialing.
The Samsung Trance is a V CAST Music phone in the sense that it can play V CAST music tracks, but you can’t download the music over the air directly to the phone since it lacks EVDO. You’ll need to subscribe to V CAST Music with Rhapsody on a Windows PC (sorry, no Mac version is available) and download your tunes to the PC, then put them on a microSD card or use the included USB cable to sync music to the phone. What if you want to listen to non-V Cast music? No problem, the Samsung Trance can work with many popular music formats including .mp3, .wma, unprotected .aac and .aac+ files.
The music sounds full and loud thanks to Bang & Olufsen’s ICEpower technology. We do like this partnership and hope to see more phones with this technology. The Samsung has a standard 3.5mm stereo headphone jack, though no headset is included in the package. The audio quality is excellent through a good wired headset with a lot of depth and bass power. We heard a low buzzing sound with certain headsets in our tests. The sound was great via Bluetooth stereo headsets.
GPS and VZ Navigator
The Samsung Trance has built-in aGPS that works well with the VZ Navigator even over the Trance’s slower 1xRTT data connection. The integrated GPS gets a good signal and accurate position fixes. The navigation is reasonably fast but the maps take some time to download since there’s no EVDO. The turn-by-turn directions seem on target and the voice guidance sounds loud on the Samsung. Be aware, if you start navigation with the Samsung Trance’s slider open, when you close the slider the sound will transfer to the earpiece from the speakerphone even if you’re in the middle of navigation. But if you start the navigation with the slider closed, the voice guidance will stay on the speakerphone.
VZ Navigator offers local search, traffic information as well as sharing locations and directions with family members who have that Verizon service. For parents who value Verizon’s Chaperone child locator services, the Samsung Trance works well with that service.
The Samsung Trance doesn’t have an impressive camera. The built-in 1.3 megapixel camera can take only still images but does provide options for image resolutions, picture quality, brightness and effects settings, night mode, multishot and self timer. The photos taken with the Trance look good by 1.3 MP camera phone standards with balanced colors and sharp images (there’s some over-sharpening). Some images look a bit dark but colors look natural nonetheless.
The Samsung Trance has a small standard battery that’s 880 mAh in capacity. In our battery tests, accessing V CAST multimedia services via EV-DO is usually the biggest battery-draining task. Since the Samsung Trance has only 1xRTT connectivity the battery, though small, has good runtimes. The claimed talk time is 4.5 hours which seems on target and the battery can last many hours for music playback. The phone also has good standby time and can easily go for a week with very light use.
If you’re looking for a phone with a pretty face and a beautiful voice, the Samsung Trance fits the bill quite well. In addition you also get the built-in GPS that works with VZ Navigator and Chaperone, a roomy 1GB of internal memory, a microSD card slot and a camera. Music download isn’t the most convenient compared to the LG Chocolate 3, but it doesn’t affect those who load their own music instead of buying tracks over the air. The lack of EV-DO means you won’t get Verizon’s multimedia offerings such as V CAST video or a fast Internet connection with a full browser, but it also means lower monthly cost.
Pro: Sporty, shiny looking phone. Good screen and excellent audio. Large internal memory and the music player can play tracks in a good selection of formats.
Con: No 3G EVDO and no over-the-air music download. Camera can’t record video.
Price: $49.99 with 2-year contract after mail-in rebate and discount.
Web sites: www.samsungmobileusa.com, www.verizonwireless.com
Display: 2.1” 262K color TFT screen. Resolution: 176 x 220 pixels.
Battery: Lithium Ion rechargeable battery, 880 mAh, user replaceable. Claimed talk time: up to 4.5 hours. Claimed standby time: up to 12 days.
Performance: 1GB internal memory. Phone book can store 1000 entries.
Size: 4.0 x 1.97 x 0.55 inches. Weight: 3.53 oz.
Phone: CDMA digital dual band, 800/1900 MHz. 1x for data. No EV-DO 3G.
Camera: 1.3 megapixel with digital zoom. Supports multi-shot and night-shot features. Still image resolutions: 1280 x 960, 1024 x 768, 640 x 480, 320 x 240, 160 x 120 and 128 x 96 pixels. Doesn’t record video.
Audio: Sound technology by Bang & Olufsen ICEpower. MP3 player onboard to play music in MIDI, MP3, AAC, AAC+ and WMA formats. 3.5 mm stereo audio jack. Supports vibration alert.
Networking: Bluetooth v2.0. Supported profiles: headset, hands-free, stereo, basic imaging, Object Push for vCard and vCal, serial port and phonebook access. USB 2.0.
Software: Verizon flash-based UI with ERI personalized banner support. WAP browser and Web-based email and chat on board. PIM tools include contacts, calendar, notepad, calculator with converter, world clock, alarm clock and stopwatch.
Expansion: 1 microSD card slot. Supports SDHC cards.
In the Box: The Samsung Trance phone with standard battery, wall/USB charger, USB cable and printed manual and guide.