The 3G Samsung Behold ($150 from T-Mobile), the younger sibling of the Samsung Omnia on the Verizon network, is a slick cell phone with a bevy of advanced multimedia features and a responsive touch screen. However, the Behold lacks Wi-Fi and a standard headphone jack, and its Web browser is a bit counterintuitive.
Slightly smaller than the Omnia, the Behold measures 2.1 by 4.1 by 0.5 inches. Weighing 3.9 ounces, it's light but feels solid in the hand.
The Behold's 3-inch touch screen takes up the majority of the phone, and three physical keys--end, send, and back--reside underneath. The landscape touch-screen QWERTY keyboard, with generously spaced keys and vibrating feedback, is comfortable to use. I didn't notice any lag between when I typed and when the results appeared on the screen, a problem I've experienced with some other touch-screen keyboards. The Behold's predictive text feature gives two word choices, but you can also turn predictive text off with a dedicated key on the keyboard. The arrangement includes a few dedicated punctuation keys, as well.
The Behold uses Samsung's TouchWiz interface, also seen on the Omnia. But unlike the Omnia, which seemed sluggish running Windows Mobile, the Behold is very responsive. The accelerometer, which reacted slowly on the Omnia, flipped from portrait to landscape quickly and smoothly on this handset. I encountered some lag only when I scrolled through lists of contacts or my media library. And otherwise, I found TouchWiz very user-friendly.
The lens for the Behold's 5-megapixel camera, along with a flash, is located on the phone's metallic back (which is available in a brushed espresso or light-rose finish). A volume rocker and a headphone/USB jack lie on the left spine of the device, while a dedicated camera key and a phone-lock key sit on the right.
Call quality was very good overall. My contacts sounded loud and clear, and I heard no static or interference. Parties on the other end heard some background noise, but otherwise the sound quality was clean. I experienced no dropped calls.
The Today screen--the Behold's home screen--has a widget bar running along its left side. You can arrange the widgets in any order, as well as drag one into the main part of the screen to launch its respective app. To end the application, you slide the widget back onto the bar. Available widgets include a calendar, a phone book, a music player, and a clock. But other than rearranging widgets and removing them, you don't have a lot of room for customization; you can't add new widgets to the bar or buy new programs (there is no app store), which was disappointing.
The Behold offers a full HTML browser, which is a nice addition for a non-smart-phone handset. The browser is difficult to use on occasion: Scrolling through pages wasn't as smooth a process as on other touch-screen browsers, and getting the hang of navigating took time. For example, to zoom in on a page, you must touch the magnifying-glass icon at the top of the browser and then select the page size to view. The phone doesn't do Wi-Fi, either, but that didn't seem like too big of a loss; Web pages loaded very quickly over T-Mobile's 3G network.
The Behold's standout feature is its 5-megapixel camera, with 4X digital zoom and a power LED flash. The camera has four resolution settings, light metering, adjustable ISO, a self-timer, a self-portrait mirror on the back cover, an antishake feature, and a setting for shooting backlit subjects. It also has three fun shooting modes (continuous, panorama, and mosaic), as well as a smile-shot mode that will take another shot if the subject is frowning.
Image quality was very good--definitely better than most camera-phone images I've seen. Colors were sharp and clear in photos taken both indoors and outdoors. The camera's touch menu is intuitive, and I enjoyed trying out all of the different settings. Luckily, the Behold has 180MB of internal memory and a microSD slot for expanding the storage up to 16GB, so you have plenty of space for pictures. You can also shoot video in two resolutions (320 by 240 and 176 by 144).
The Behold isn't a full-on multimedia powerhouse, though. I was disappointed that the Behold didn't come loaded with the Samsung TouchPlayer, an impressive media player we tested on the Omnia. Instead, the Behold has a bare-bones music player that supports album art and playlists, and has shuffle and repeat modes plus six equalizer settings. But like the Omnia, the Behold is missing a standard 3.5mm headphone jack, so you can't charge the phone and listen to music at the same time. On the upside, transferring music from your PC to the Behold via the USB cable is a simple drag and drop.
Like the LG Lotus for Sprint, the Samsung Behold has some of the advanced features of a smart phone but isn't actually a smart phone. And while smart phones aren't necessarily for everybody, shelling out an extra $30 to 50 more for a phone with stronger multimedia features such as T-Mobile's Android-based G1 or Apple's iPhone is worth considering. Overall, however, the Behold is a well-designed touch-screen phone with an impressive feature set.
Despite no headphone jack or Wi-Fi, the slick Samsung Behold has a variety of advanced features and an intuitive interface.
- Responsive touch interface
- Impressive camera
- Mediocre Web browser
- No Wi-Fi or standard headphone jack