THE GOOD: The Samsung Gravity is a simple messaging phone with a well-designed QWERTY keyboard, a 1.3-megapixel camera, a music player, and a microSD card slot.
THE BAD: The Samsung Gravity has disappointing call quality.
THE BOTTOM LINE: The Samsung Gravity is a great phone for budget-minded texters, but beware its spotty call quality.
With phones like the Rant and the Propel, it's clear that Samsung is plowing headfirst into the recent trend of messaging phones with full QWERTY keyboards. So it's fitting that Samsung has come out with yet another one, dubbed the Samsung Gravity, and this time it's for T-Mobile. It looks a lot like the Rant and the LG Rumor with its thick candy bar appearance and slide-out QWERTY keyboard. Features are on the lower end, with a 1.3-megapixel camera, stereo Bluetooth, a basic music player, and not much else. But its keyboard design is great for typing out text messages, and its affordable price makes this a great texting phone for the budget-minded. The Samsung Gravity is available now for $50 in either aqua with white, or lime with gray finish.
When we first took a look at the Samsung Rant from Sprint, we were surprised by how similar it was to the LG Rumor. Both have a thick candy bar appearance with slide-out QWERTY keyboards underneath. But the Samsung Gravity looks even more like the LG Rumor, with very minor differences in keypad design--the layout is a little different, the keys have a more bubblelike texture, and the Gravity slides to the right to reveal the keyboard instead of to the left. Measuring 4.53 inches long by 2.07 inches wide by 0.7 inch thick, the Gravity isn't much bigger than the Rumor, either.
On the front of the Gravity is a 2.1-inch diagonal display with support for 262,000 colors, plus it has a 176x220-pixel resolution. Colors really stand out, and the overall display is bright and vibrant. We like the simple animated menu interface, as well as the large font size. You can adjust the backlight time, add a calendar to the home screen, change the style and color of the information text on the home screen, the size and color of the dialing font, plus the background color when dialing. You can also add a greeting on the home screen if you wish.
Underneath the display is the navigation array, which consists of two soft keys, a dedicated messaging key, a Clear key, a round toggle with middle OK key, and the Send and End/Power keys. The toggle also doubles as shortcuts to your call records, a new audio postcard, the contacts list, and a new message. You can remap the messaging key to point to the in-box, the instant-messaging application, or a new e-mail as well. We're definitely fans of the Gravity's keypad--not only is it spacious, the keys are quite big and are sufficiently raised above the surface of the phone, which makes it easy to dial by feel.
Slide the Gravity to the right, and you'll reveal a full QWERTY keyboard on your left. Once you slide out the keyboard, the screen orientation changes from portrait to landscape mode. To the left and right side of the keyboard are two soft keys, which are appropriate for when the screen is in landscape mode. Similar to the keypad, we found the QWERTY keyboard quite roomy, and each key has a smooth bubblelike texture that make for easy and responsive texting. We wished the keyboard had arrow keys so that we didn't need to use the toggle for navigating the phone when in landscape mode, but it's not a big deal.
The volume rocker and microSD card slot are on the left spine, while the charger/headset jack and dedicated camera key are on the right. On the back are the camera lens and self-portrait mirror.
The Samsung Gravity has almost the same features as the LG Rumor, which means it's not a high-end phone with a lot of fancy features. That said, it does have a few multimedia goodies to keep you entertained. But first, the basics. The Gravity comes with a 1,000-entry phone book, with room in each entry for five phone numbers and an e-mail address. Contacts can then be organized by groups, paired with a photo for caller ID, or one of 19 polyphonic ringtones. Other essentials include a speakerphone, a vibrate mode, text and multimedia messaging, a voice recorder, an alarm clock, a tasks list, a notepad, a calculator, a tip calculator, world clock, a unit converter, a timer, and stopwatch.
Messaging fans will like that the Gravity also supports instant messaging for all the major IM services (AIM, ICQ, Windows Live, Yahoo), and e-mail from a host of providers (AOL, Yahoo, Comcast, Gmail, Mac, Verizon, and more). More advanced users will like the stereo Bluetooth, voice command, and the wireless Web browser.
Though the Gravity comes with a music player, it's nothing to write home about. The interface is quite generic, though you can create playlists and you can shuffle and repeat tracks. You can load music onto the Gravity via a microSD card or PC upload.
The Gravity also comes with a 1.3-megapixel camera. It can take pictures in six resolutions (1,280x1024, 1,024x768, 800x600, 640x480, 320x240, and 220x165), five white balance settings, and nine color effects. Other camera options include zoom, a self-timer, a night mode, exposure metering, multi or mosaic shot, and the choice of three shutter sounds (no silent option unfortunately). Photo quality was decent for a simple megapixel camera. Though the color seemed overcast and dark, the image quality was sharp without a lot of blur. It also comes with a built-in camcorder, which can record in three lengths (limit for message, limit for e-mails, and no limit within the available memory) and three resolutions (176x144, 160x120, and 128x96), with options similar to the still camera.
You can personalize your Samsung Gravity by adding wallpaper, screensavers, and sounds. It also comes with a few games, like demo versions of Block Breaker Deluxe, and Midnight Pool 2. If you want to purchase the full version of the games, and buy more graphics and sound files, you can do so via the T-zones browser.
We tested the Samsung Gravity in San Francisco using T-Mobile's network. We have to say that we were disappointed with the call quality. Though we could hear our callers and vice versa, they said we sounded muffled, and that there was quite a bit of static. Even on our end, we could hear the static. Speakerphone calls did not fare much better with the tinny sound output. We managed to successfully pair the Gravity with the Aliph Jawbone 2.
Audio quality on the music player was average, with not a lot of bass. The speaker is loud enough, but as we said earlier, the tinny sound output makes us recommend the use of a headset instead.
The Samsung Gravity has a rated battery life of 6 hours talk time and 12.5 days standby time. We had a talk time of 8 hours and 12 minutes in our tests. According to the FCC, it has a SAR rating of 0.487 watt per kilogram.