Samsung Gem First Impressions by Aaron

Aaron Baker
member from Dallas, TX
Published: April 7, 2011

Samsung Gem 1

After a late entry into the Android game, US Cellular is "full steam ahead" with the Android devices, one of which happens to be the Samsung Gem.  Available now for $29.99 after an $80 mail-in rebate, it's a nice little low-end Android phone that could appeal to first-time smartphone owners.  I've spent a day with the Gem, and here's what I've found thus far:

  • It comes in a medium-sized box with an AC adapter module, USB cable, earbuds, and instruction manuals.  The device itself is a nice size, and while it's made of plastic, it still feels good in the hand.
  • The low-resolution 3.2-inch display is a bit small and definitely pales in comparison to phones like the iPhone 4, Atrix 4G, and Epic 4G.  That said, the target market for a device like this likely won't need a large, hi-res display.  I found it hard to type on, but I'd chalk that up to me being used to 4+-inch displays.

Samsung Gem 2

  • For a low-end to mid-range device with an 800 MHz processor, the Gem is snappy.  Very snappy.  The unlock screen works without any lag, homescreens pop into place without any issue, and applications open with ease.  The device comes with a stock build of Android 2.2, which surprised me, as I expected it to ship with Samsung's TouchWiz user interface.  The vanilla build definitely contributes to the overall speed of the device. 
  • The device comes with a few US Cellular applications installed like MyContacts Backup, Your Navigator Deluxe, and ToneRoomDeluxe.  Sure, they're carrier-installed applications that can't be uninstalled, but it's a refreshing change from the 5-10 applications that come with most Verizon and AT&T devices.

Samsung Gem 3

  • The Gem has a 3.2-megapixel camera, though there's no flash, so taking pictures in the dark has been difficult so far.  I'll spend some more time with it the coming days, so stay tuned for my thoughts in the imaging department.
  • I haven't had time to get official battery numbers, but the device has been on for just over 24 hours, and with little to no use, it has made it without needing to be charged.  Given that it was at about 55 percent when I received it, those are pretty good numbers.

More to come, so stay tuned.  In the meantime, take a look at the unboxing!

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