Slider phones are all the rage right now and Samsung's T-Mobile SGH-T809/SGH-D820 is one of the sexiest slider's I've seen. Combining stunning good looks, a slim, sleek form factor and a gorgeous screen with the features you'd expect from a mid-range multimedia phone, the T809 is a winner in almost every sense of the word. If only Samsung had included a decent battery with it, they'd have a can't-miss hit on their hands.
The T809/D820 is a slider phone featuring a large screen and one of the slimmest profiles available on the market today. At 3.8 x 2.0 x 0.6 inches, the phone is noticeably wider than the average handset; in some ways it looks as though somebody took a standard candybar-style phone and stepped on the front of it until it flattened out underfoot. Weighing a scant 3 oz., the phone feels amazingly light in hand and is all but forgotten once tucked away in a hip pocket.
Samsung's advertising and documentation for the T809 shows a variety of young, attractive, and mostly female models holding the handset, and there's no doubt the phone was designed to appeal to the chic (or chic at heart) mobile user. From the shiny black finish to the hidden keypad and swiveling camera, this phone attracts attention from the moment you take it out of your pocket or pocketbook. Indeed this phone has drawn comparisons to Motorola's popular RAZR handset - the two phones are very similar in size and weight, though the RAZR is made from metal to the T809's all-plastic construction, and the RAZR is a flip-style phone.
When the T809 is slid shut, the front of the phone is dominated by the 320x240 screen, whose brightness and clarity really has to be seen in person to be appreciated. Below the screen, a cluster of controls features a five-way navigational pad flanked by left/right soft keys and a second row of three buttons ? call send, clear, and call cancel/power ? underneath. A Samsung logo along the bottom edge of the screen and a T-Mobile logo at the bottom edge of the phone near the microphone are the only other immediately visible markings.
Closer inspection, however, reveals a T-Mobile "t zones" logo on the center button of the nav-pad and, more importantly, a swiveling camera mounted along the top edge of the camera. The 1.3 megapixel sensor can be rotated for self-portraits and standard usage, and also is effectively "closed" - hidden away from dust and fingerprints - when it's rotated away from the user
The phone slides open to reveal a standard 12-button keypad which is quite roomy and comfortable to use thanks to the phone's wide footprint. Using the keypad is a pleasant experience thanks to the tactile feedback afforded by the buttons themselves (though some may not like the flat buttons since many phones feature subtly domed keys), and also really gives the user a sense of just how thin this phone is. Holding the phone near the top when it's in the open position is even more dramatic ? the area behind the screen just beneath the camera housing is amazingly skinny, to say the least.
Along the phone's edges you'll find ports for the included AC adaptor, combination hands-free headset/stereo earphones, USB 1.1 cable, and microSD memory card. A 32MB memory card is included to supplement the phone's 65MB of built-in memory.
All of the phone's ports and slots are covered by grey rubber caps that can be a little tricky to open and secure, particularly if you have large fingers and/or short fingernails. I've heard some complaints from T809 owners that the rubber caps on their phones are constantly falling open, but I've yet to experience any problems with that.
The overall look of the T809 is best summed up with one word: Hot! The phone is every bit as sleek and futuristic looking as the RAZR, if not more so, and the front-mounted screen lends an immediate sense of "Wow" to the overall look. As soon as I got the phone home, however, I made sure to affix a plastic film screen protector to the front of the handset, as the screen's positioning leaves it very scratch-prone.
Lest you think that the SGH-T809's beauty is only skin deep, this shiny mobile packs a bevy of features beneath its flashy exterior. While not quite top-of-the-line in any one area, the T809 is a solid multimedia device sure to keep its fans happy long after the thrill of its surface beauty has worn off (as if that could happen).
Samsung includes a wired stereo headset with microphone in the T809's packaging so you can take full advantage of the built-in music player. Fronted by a slick user interface, the player can handle mp3 and AAC files, though protected music such as songs purchased from the iTunes store are not compatible. The player supports playlists and features a graphic equalizer that can tailor the sound to your liking whether you're listening through the earphones or the handset's built-in stereo speakers.
While the included earphones are serviceable, I do wish that Samsung had outfitted the phone with a standard 3.5mm stereo headphone jack - or at least a Sony Ericsson-style adapter (third-party adapters are available but not included) - so I could swap in a pair of phones more to my liking. Another minor annoyance is that the headset uses the same phone port as the AC adapter, so you can't use the headset for music or hands-free calling while also charging the phone. Samsung is certainly not alone in their choice to make cell phones with one port serving multiple functions, but it's a trend I'd personally like to see put to a stop sometime soon.
The phone also includes a video player that can handle 3GP and MP4 format video files, and Java capabilities for gaming and other applications. The three included games and instant messaging program worked well. No email application is pre-installed on the phone.
The T809 also features many of the hi-tech features that have become commonplace in today's mid-to-high end phones: USB and Bluetooth 2.0 connectivity, datebook with to-do list and alarm reminders, MIDI and mp3/AAC ringtone support, vibrating and gradually increasing ringers, and speakerphone. Curiously, voice dial is not supported on the phone.
Samsung's implementation of Bluetooth on the T809 is pretty rudimentary by today's standards. All available Bluetooth functionality including mono voice calls, file transfers, and dial-up computer networking, does, however, work very well
One note of importance: Apparently in packing all of these features and that gorgeous screen into such a slim phone, Samsung had to sacrifice a little when it came to the battery. Battery life, while not out-and-out "bad," is noticeably less than on other comparable phones. Even with Bluetooth off and the music player and camera used only minimally, I was usually into the red zone on the battery indicator by early in my second day of normal use. Steady use of any of the aforementioned features meant my T809 was in need of charging after a single day. These days I've come to expect about two days' worth of usage - including some picture taking and bluetoothing - from my phone.
Powered by a 1.3 Megapixel sensor, the T809's camera takes very good pictures with crisp colors and good white balance. For use as wallpapers, in caller ID contacts, and in MMS messages, the photos I snapped with the camera were more than acceptable, and pictures snapped under optimal lighting conditions ? particularly in natural light ? looked spectacular on the handset's big LCD screen. You're not going to print five-by-sevens from the T809 since it's just a one megapixel camera, but it's still quite impressive for a cameraphone. A plethora of imaging controls including white balance, brightness, and ISO are built-in.
The camera also features a video record mode which is amongst the best I've seen on a mobile phone. Take that with a grain of salt, since I've never really been much impressed by cameraphone videos, but it's still worth noting. The T809 shoots 352x288 pixel video at 13 frames/second with sound in the 3GP format.
The 320x240, 262,000 color QVGA display on the T809 is as gorgeous as the phone itself. Even bigger and better than the exemplary screens on the Sony Ericsson K750i and w800i, the T809's screen is sharp, vivid, and has ample room for gaming, photo viewing, and more mundane tasks like contact and datebook browsing. As I mentioned before, the first accessory you'll want for your T809 is a case or screen protector; the one drawback of any slider or candybar phone is that the screen is always exposed to the elements. One look at this Samsung and you'll agree, its screen is well worth protecting.
Call quality on the T809 is good, though I did find myself regularly turning the volume up towards the higher end of the available settings in order to hear comfortably. Ringtones and music files played back through the phone's built-in speakers, on the other hand, come through with volume to spare. Reception on the T809 over the T-Mobile network was excellent; the phone has a quad-band GSM 850/900/1800/1900MHz radio inside.
Not surprisingly, the implementation of Bluetooth installed on the T809 does not support stereo audio, so while you can use a Bluetooth headset for calling purposes, you won't be able to listen to stereo music from the phone without the wired headset. Very few phones currently offer stereo over Bluetooth, but it would have been a nice surprise had Samsung included it.
The T809 supports both SMS and MMS messaging protocols as well as Instant Messaging using the pre-installed Wireless Village (AOL/ICQ/Yahoo) client. Email is not supported via the included software, though the camera application does support posting of cameraphone pictures to Internet photo albums. Predictive text input using T9 is turned on by default, and the included PC-only synching software also allows you to compose a handful of favorite text messages on your computer and then transfer them to your T809 to use as SMS templates.
Support for Class 10 EDGE data means the T809 is capable of some pretty zippy transfer speeds over T-Mobile's high-speed network, and the phone is also GPRS compatible as well. A built-in browser for T-Mobile's "t-zones" service means access to downloads and Web browsing as well as browser-based email services. I'd have preferred a dedicated email client as found on some higher-end and business-oriented phones, but for most people considering the T809, the email support will do just fine.
With built-in Bluetooth 1.1, USB, IR, and a removable microSD card, the T809 will sync with your PC (using the included software), and transfer files to a computer or other Bluetooth-equipped devices. The phone does not support Wi-Fi or GPS.
When my fiancée first saw the Samsung SGH-T809, she fell for it. She's not a gadget head like me, but she certainly agrees that this device blends technology and style while retaining user-friendliness. With the T809, Samsung has achieved just that in a phone that's exclusive to T-Mobile subscribers.
The handset is razor-thin, lightweight, and stunning to behold. From the big, bright screen to the quality swivel camera and stereo music player, the T809 packs many features into an amazingly small package. The slider form factor is not just a neat gimmick, but very comfortable to use as well, and Samsung's user interface is colorful, understandable, and generally intuitive.
My only complaint about the T809 is a big one, though, and that's battery life. While compromise is of course necessary when dealing with anything that's so sophisticated and yet so small, it stands to reason that Samsung could find a way to eek a little more juice out of even the oh-so-thin battery that snaps into the back of this handset.
If you don't mind charging your phone every night (and maybe keeping a spare charger at work), then there's very little to complain about with the T809. Even if you do, it's hard not to admire this phone's slim, suave good looks and solid all-around performance. If you're on T-Mobile, this one's worth a look.