THE GOOD: The Samsung Moment has a bright display with a spacious keyboard. Productivity features are plentiful and call quality is clear.
THE BAD: The Samsung Moment's touch interface and controls were a little sluggish. The camera lacks editing features, call volume could be louder, and speakerphone quality was just average.
THE BOTTOM LINE: With its full keyboard and bright display, the Samsung Moment successfully rounds out Sprint's Android offerings.
In case you haven't noticed, the Google Android dam has broken. For almost a year, HTC was the only manufacturer to offer handsets with the operating system, but in the past month, Motorola and Samsung almost fell over each other to offer Android smartphones of their own. Moto gave us the satisfying Cliq and Samsung countered with the Moment. Though we're not sure which "Moment" Samsung is referring to (the company's product names baffle us regularly), it's clear that Sammy is taking its Android endeavor seriously. The Moment offers everything you'd expect from an Android phone while adding Sprint-specific media services. Other features are plentiful, and the sturdy design and comfortable physical keyboard offer a nice contrast to Sprint's other Android phone, the HTC Hero. The Android OS still has its quirks, camera-editing options are nonexistent, and we had a few performance complaints, but at $179 with service, the Moment, aka the M900, is cheaper than T-Mobile's Android options.
You wouldn't be off base if you initially confused the Moment with Samsung's other touch-screen phones. Indeed, with its rounded ends and prominent display it looks a lot like the Samsung Rogue. Yet, a closer look will show that the Moment is larger than its siblings and its color scheme and soft touch material on its battery cover put it more in line with the Hero. The result is a rather unremarkable design, particularly when compared with its Android counterparts, but the smooth lines give the Moment a minimalist appeal.
The Moment is more than just large (4.6 inches by 2.34 inches by 0.63 inch), it's also quite heavy (5.67 ounces) for any kind of cell phone. The extra bulk is noticeable and the Moment can make for a tight fit in some pockets, but the trade-off is a solid device with a sturdy build. The slider mechanism is sufficiently stiff and the handset has a firm feel in the hand. We noticed, however, that when the slider is open the Moment feels a bit top-heavy. When typing, be sure to steady the back of the slider with your fingers.
Display and interface
At 3.2 inches, the Moment's vibrant AMOLED display is smaller than the iPhone's, but still large enough to allow for comfortable navigation. Though the resolution (480x320 pixels) is lower than on the Rogue, the rich color support (16 million hues) means that colors and graphics pop right off the screen. You can change the brightness, the wallpaper, and the backlight time, and you can adjust the accelerometer settings so that the display doesn't change automatically when you rotate the phone. A proximity sensor will switch the screen off when you're on a call.
The Moment ships with Android OS 1.5 so its three home screens and phone dialer interface will be familiar to Android users. The dialer features round buttons and offers quick access to a list of favorite contacts, though it lacks the additional shortcuts we liked on the Cliq. The main menu is also unchanged from other supported handsets; to access it, tap the small pull tab at the bottom of the display. Naturally, you can add or delete shortcut widgets and move them around the home screens. But in a change from other Android phones, the display offers vibrating feedback for the virtual keyboard and keypad (you can turn this feature off).
Though the capacitive display is mostly responsive, we noticed that there was a bit of lag time when opening the main menu and selecting some icons. The delay won't be noticeable to Android virgins, but veteran users of the OS should see a change, albeit very small, from other Android handsets. It also took a firm swipe to move between the home screens and through long lists. Perhaps a screen sensitivity adjustment would help, but the Moment doesn't offer one.
Keyboard and controls
We also had issues with the three touch controls below the display. The Home, Menu, and back buttons have a spacious arrangement, but our touch didn't always register during our initial hours of use. Similar to the finger swiping, you'll need to give an accurate, firm press. As with other Android phones, the Menu control opens the relevant commands for the feature that you're using.
Fortunately, the physical controls just below the display are better. You'll find large Talk and End/power keys and a square OK button that doubles as an optical mouse. The latter is a unique Samsung creation that acts like a touch pad. By swiping your finger cross the control, you can move the cursor or swipe between home screens. Though the optical mouse is tiny, it works well. In fact, it's so sensitive that you need to use it carefully. On the downside, we'd prefer to have a dedicated search control.
Other exterior features include a volume rocker on the left spine and a camera shutter and a voice dialing button on the right spine. A Micro-USB port on the left spine accommodates the charger and a USB cable. We thank Samsung for giving us a standard charger port and the 3.5mm headset jack on the Moment's top end. The camera lens, flash, and mirror sit on the rear side near a speaker. You will need to remove the battery cover to access the microSD card slot.
The Moment's keyboard is spacious and comfortable. The keys aren't quite as tactile as on the Cliq, but we could text quickly without making mistakes. Also, we like that with four rows of keys, numbers have dedicated buttons. Punctuation does share space with other characters, but that's a common feature on keyboard phones. The space bar is located in the center of the bottom row and we appreciate the set of four arrow keys. Other controls include back, return, and function keys, and a function button for accessing menus and typing special symbols and emoticons. The display will rotate automatically when you open the keyboard, but using the standard Android virtual keyboard you can type with the phone closed.
Each contact in the Moment's phone book holds eight phone numbers, four e-mail addresses, an instant-messaging handle, a birthday and an anniversary, four postal addresses, company or organization names, notes, and up to eight chat addresses for services like Windows Live, Yahoo, and Google Talk. For caller ID, you can pair contacts with a photos and one of 16 polyphonic ringtones. You even can choose to send all calls from a contact directly to voice mail.
In a change from other Android handsets, the Moment will ask you to sync new contacts to one of your synced e-mail accounts. Though we understand the need for backing up contacts, we'd also prefer an option for bypassing that step. On the other hand, you can quickly import existing contacts from your synced Gmail account.
E-mail and calendar
The Moment offers a full range of e-mail options. Besides Gmail--as with other Android phones, the Moment requires a Gmail account--you can sync with major POP3 services like Yahoo and Hotmail and use the handsets' Microsoft ActiveSync feature to get push e-mail from Outlook. The Moment uses Moxier Mail for those work accounts, but the setup process is intuitive. And in a welcome change over T-Mobile's first two Android handsets, you also can sync your Outlook calendar, tasks, and contacts.
We synced an Outlook and a Yahoo account; in either case it took just a few minutes to get set up. Outlook messages arrived almost instantaneously on the Moment and they were gone from our PC soon after we deleted them on the phone. In-box folders are arranged as they appear on your computer, and you can easily search your messages or perform a bulk move or delete. When opening subfolders you may need to manually sync, but that's a minor point. Moxier Mail will display HTML messages, and you can view Word, Excel, and PowerPoint documents.
Outlook appointments will show up on the Moment's calendar, which offers day, week, and month views and the ability to create new events and send them to the attendees. Outlook contacts will sync with your phone book, but tasks will appear in a special "Work Tasks" app.
Essentials include text and multimedia messaging, a vibrate mode, a speakerphone, a calculator, an alarm clock, and a nifty "Device self Service" that allows you to, among other things, quickly activate your phone. Some basic apps like a world clock and a notepad remain absent, and we're a little perplexed by the new File Viewer feature. Though we welcome the capability to view files that are stored on the phone--a feature not available on previous Android phones--you can't do anything other than delete the files once you find them. To be really useful, we should be able to move files as well.
Beyond the basics, you'll have 802.11b Wi-Fi, USB mass storage, Google Talk, instant messaging, Sprint visual voice mail, stereo Bluetooth, PC syncing, and speaker-independent voice dialing. The Moment also comes integrated with apps from Facebook, The Weather Channel, CNN, ESPN, and a demo version of Bejewled. Of course, Google voice search is also onboard and you can populate the home screen with a handy search widget.
In addition to the obvious Google Maps feature, the Moment also offers Sprint Navigation for real-time directions, a 3D map, and a points-of-interest database. Google Maps offers directions (though not in real-time turn-by-turn directions), standard map view, satellite view, and street view as well as access to Google Latitude.
As with other Android phones, the Android Market lets you download free and paid apps and games. The quantity and quality of apps continue to grow every day, and Google will keep enhancing the Android Market interface as it updates the operating system. For more details on the Android Market, check out our G1 review. For updates and reviews of available Android apps, visit our Android Atlas blog.
Though we've said it many times before, we again have to mention that Android restricts app storage to the handset's integrated memory. On the Moment that's 256MB of RAM and 512MB of ROM. Granted, it won't affect most users, but it remains one of the OS' most peculiar characteristics and it's one that we hope Google changes soon. The handset's memory card slot is only for saving for photos, music, and other attachment files (you'll get a 2GB card in the box, but the slot accommodates cards up to 32GB).
Music and video
The Moment's music player is similar to its Android predecessors. Beyond the simple, intuitive interface, you'll find support for multiple files types, album art, playlists, shuffle, repeat, and an airplane mode for in-flight media use. To get tunes you can buy songs through the Amazon MP3 Store, which has DRM-free tracks. A single song costs about 89 cnets, and an album can cost anywhere from $5 to $9. Of course, you also can transfer music to your Moment using Bluetooth, the microSD card, or the included USB cable. We used the last method to successfully load a few tunes.
Video content is available through the standard YouTube app or clips that you load on the phone. As we said with the Cliq, we'd love to have an iTunes-like option for movie purchases and rentals. Both the YouTube app and the video gallery feature are easy to use.
Though there's little about the Moment that screams "Samsung," you'll know from the other media options that it is a Sprint device. The carrier added apps for Sprint TV (streaming and on-demand video), Sprint Movies, Sprint Radio, Nascar Sprint Cup, and NFL Mobile Live. Curiously, the Moment does not offer access to the Sprint Music Store.
We're not happy with the dearth of editing options on the moment's 3.2-megapixel camera. Forget color effects, a self-timer, a zoom, or even image size--you only can adjust the video quality and activate the camera flash. Sure, we're thankful for the flash and the self-portrait mirror, but we just can't abide a phone that doesn't let you play with the camera options. You can blame the iPhone for that trend.
On the upside, the Moment's photo quality was pretty good. Colors were relatively bright and the flash performs adequately, though our images were a bit grainy. Like on other Android phones, the shutter delay remains long. Videos captured with the Moment were about what you'd expect: movements in the video were blurry and colors were a bit off. When finished editing your content, you can save it to the phone, forward it to friends via e-mail or MMS, and transfer it to a PC via a memory card or a USB cable. The Photo & Video places app offers direct uploading access to MySpace, YouTube, Photobucket, and Facebook. The Gallery app offers an attractive and customizable option for viewing a slideshow of your photos.
When first opening the HTML browser, Sprint forces you onto its own Web portal. Although it offers access to news headlines, weather reports, and social media outlets like Facebook and Twitter, we suspect that you'll want to move on immediately. Fortunately, you can do just that via the Menu control below the display, but here again we'd prefer a dedicated Search control without opening the keyboard.
The Moment's Web-browsing experience was comparable to other Android phones. Scrolling around Web pages was fluid outside of the occasional screen lag. The onscreen zoom controls were effective and we could select links easily, but keep in mind that the accelerometer only works when you rotate the Moment to the left. The handset supports copy and paste and tabs for your bookmarks, frequent sites, and history, but not integrated Flash Lite.
We tested the dual-band (CDMA 800/1900) Samsung Moment in San Francisco using Sprint service. Call quality generally was quite good, with natural-sounding voices and a strong, clear signal. The volume level could be louder, however, as we had trouble hearing when we were talking on a busy street or in a place with a lot of background noise. What's more, when we had the volume turned all the way up, we encountered the tiniest bit of voice distortion.
On their end, callers said we sounded good. A few didn't know we were using a cell phone, which is rarely the case when going wireless. Some callers had trouble hearing us when we were in those noisy places, which made us think that the Moment has a sensitive sweet spot. If we spoke directly into the handset, there was rarely a problem. Automated calling systems could hear us most of the time, but we had to repeat ourselves on occasion.
Speakerphone calls were average. We had to speak close to the phone and the sound on our end was muffled. We could carry on conversations, but we found ourselves switching to standard calls more often than not. On the other hand, we liked the speakerphone and mute touch controls that sit directly on the display when you're on a call. What's more, the phone dialer opens with a single touch.
Sprint's 3G EV-DO network offers a fast data connection with admirable reach. We could get a signal in most buildings and even when underground. Also, graphics-heavy Web pages, images, and YouTube videos loaded in seconds. Remember that the browser will default to mobile sites, so you might have to click around to find the full version.
The Moment offers an 800Mhz processor, which is improved over previous Android models. Once the touch screen registered our choices, applications opened quickly, but there was still a little bit of the Android sluggishness to which we've become accustomed. By and large, the Moment performed well and we didn't have any system crashes.
Not surprisingly, YouTube video quality was just blurry. If there was any difference between other Android phones, we didn't see it. In contrast, videos stored on the phone were fine. Music quality was decent, as well. The external speaker doesn't have the loudest output and the sound warbles just a bit. Try a headset for the best experience.
The Google Maps feature was moderately more accurate than on the Hero or T-Mobile's Android models. It still missed our location by a block most of the time, but it never lost us completely. The Samsung Moment is quite a decent navigator. During our testing period, the smartphone's GPS consistently found our location in a minute or less and did a good job of tracking our movements as we drove around San Francisco. We also used Sprint Navigation to plot a route from the city's Marina District to Santa Clara, Calif. The app was very quick to come up with directions and even alerted us to a traffic incident at the beginning of our trip; unfortunately, there were no alternative routes so we had to sit through the congestion. Voice directions were clear but a little on the soft side, and route recalculations were quick but didn't always offer the most efficient routes.
Senior Editor Bonnie Cha contributed to this section.
The Moment has a rated battery life of 5.5 hours talk time. Our talk time tests didn't quite reach that with a result of 4 hours and 36 minutes. According to the FCC, the Moment has a digital SAR of 0.67 watt per kilogram.