capsule review

Samsung Comeback (T-Mobile)

At a Glance
  • Samsung Comeback

The first thing you'll notice about Samsung's newest messaging phone, the Comeback ($130 with a two-year T-Mobile contract; as of August 19, 2009) is its amazing color scheme, which makes it look like a prop from a futuristic 1970s flick. Though the Comeback is far from sleek, it's a solid messaging phone with stereo Bluetooth support, a 2-megapixel camera (with 2.5X digital zoom), e-mail and IM support, and a full HTML browser.

The Comeback is a bit clunky, at 2.2 inches wide by 4.3 inches tall by 0.7 inch thick, but it weighs just 4.5 ounces, and felt quite comfortable in my hand during long phone calls. Our test model was the pearl white/plum version--a sexy color combination. The Comeback also comes in white with silver and red highlights.

This side-flip phone carries a 1-inch, 128-by-128-pixel external display, and a 2.7-inch, 240-by-400 pixel TFT internal screen. The front display is impractical for anything fancier than dialing a contact or seeing an incoming call, and it's shockingly low-res compared to the internal screen.

The usability of the external numeric keypad is merely average.The dedicated camera key, two soft-keys, and the joystick are easy to use; but the number keys, while decently wide, are too slippery to permit quick dialing.

On a phone that touts itself as a messaging powerhouse, the full-QWERTY keyboard falls short. The keys are tiny, slippery, and difficult to press; I had to use my nails to get anything done. The central location of the two soft keys makes navigating the phone's menus a bit rocky, too. Since the soft keys point to functions on the outer corners of the screen, it would have made more sense for Samsung to have positioned the keys themselves below them. The keyboard has some useful shortcut keys--in particular, a dedicated .com button for surfing the Web, and a messaging key that can be set to open any application you want.

The Comeback's menu looks the same on both the external and internal screens, and appears pretty slick with its little iPhone-App-like icons; but navigating isn't especially easy, and there's visible lag when moving through the menus. That said, it's packed with such features as a 1000-entry phonebook (with room for four numbers per contact), voice command, instant messaging (AIM, Windows Live, and Yahoo), GPS with TeleNav, an RSS reader, e-mail from various providers (including AOL, Comcast, Yahoo, and Gmail), and a full HTML browser with FlashLite.

The Comeback's full music player supports MP3, AAC/AAC+, WMA, MPEG4, WAV, MIDI, and Real Audio formats; it comes with an audio equalizer, and allows you to create playlists on the go. Sound quality through the included headset was great, though the external speakers are a bit tinny. The music player even lets you rate songs with star ratings.

The 2-megapixel camera has no flash, but it does ofer some pretty cool shooting modes, including panorama, mosaic, and 'smile shot' (which takes a picture only when it detects a smile. Though the Comeback has just 75MB of internal space, a microSD slot supports up to 16GB of memory.

Phone call quality was very good. I tested the Comeback over T-Mobile's 3G network in San Francisco, and none of my calls were dropped. People across the country heard me loud and clear, with no significant interference (not even from the raging Bay Area winds), though they reported that my voice sounded a tad tinny. At my end, callers' voices came through very clearly and sounded natural.

Overall, the Comeback is a pretty solid phone: It's light, it's loaded with multimedia features, it makes Web surfing fairly easy, and it supports very good call quality. But for messaging, the phone needs a better keyboard; and its unique color palette, while bright and bold, might not be for everyone.

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At a Glance
  • The Comeback has some great messaging features, but the keyboard is difficult to use.

    Pros

    • Unique color scheme
    • Wide array of messaging features

    Cons

    • Keys are tiny, slippery and hard to press
    • Design is bulky
  
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