The smartest thing AT&T could do this holiday season was launch a bunch of new phones to fill the gaping holes in its current lineup. In Exhibit A we find that AT&T had no text-centric phones besides smartphones, and it appears that this past month the lightbulb turned on over the company’s head, and it promptly released four to fill the need — the AT&T Quickfire, Samsung Propel, Pantech Slate and Pantech Matrix.
Today, Unwired View reviews the Samsung Propel, which has been boosted by a large advertising campaign featuring Ozzy Osbourne and is one of the hottest phones on the market now.
The Samsung Propel is geared toward the young folks; there is a large emphasis on texting, multimedia messaging and listening to music. Let’s see if the phone’s design makes the grade. And, like always, I bring pictures!
Design of the Samsung Propel
The Samsung Propel is a bit wider than the usual dumbphone because it features a full QWERTY keyboard eerily similar to that of the Blackjack II. As a way of reducing its size, Samsung turned the keyboard into a slider. In other words, the Propel is essentially a wide, full keyboard version of the A737.
We find the number pad as part of the keyboard itself.
Upon looking closer, most of the keyboard shortcuts are the same as the Blackjack II, with dedicated camera and profile buttons. On the top part of the front we can see the usual suspects — green and red buttons, direction pad, soft keys for the screen, backspace and a messaging button.
Turning the phone to its left side reveals a MicroSD slot and volume keys. Oh, and a spot to attach your precious lanyard on so it can dangle from…well, from wherever you want it to dangle from.
On the right side of the Propel, we see a standard Samsung charging port and shortcut button. This button toggles phone, messaging, Media Net and the music player.
There isn’t much to the back of the Propel; just the 1.3 MP camera peeking out from behind the slide mechanism, so it doesn’t accidentally take pictures of your pocket or purse.
I can tell that Samsung did its best to condense the Propel enough to handle it well, but still keep it large enough to not cram the keys together in a way that only the skinniest of fingers can type on it. There certainly is a lot of give and take involved in making a phone of this nature, and I believe Samsung pulled it off pretty well.
The UI of the Propel is practically identical to that of every other AT&T Samsung phone made in the past year, but I have always been satisfied with the simplicity of Samsung’s interface. It seems to be one of the easier types of phones to learn.
Also, the color choices were thought out. The blue, white/red and green/black Propel colors are all done well and quite complementary.
The Propel is a little more square than we hoped for — no sleek or sexy curves involved here — but it’s not larger or smaller than it needs to be, and really that’s the most important part of designing a new phone.
Features of the Samsung Propel
The Propel is a great multimedia phone geared towards the texting generation, so there doesn’t need to be a whole lot under the hood besides the multimedia stuff. For specs, the Propel features:
- 1.3 MP camera with camcorder and video share capability
- GPS and AT&T Navigator
- 50 MB internal memory
- Quad-band GSM/EDGE, 850/1900 HSDPA
- Hearing Aid compatible: M3, T4
- Voice memos
In addition, the Propel does bring the standard speakerphone, calculator, calendar, and other tools. We also found that it does offer some syncing capabilities via USB or Bluetooth with the proper software downloaded into your computer, but were unable to test it as of this writing.
This phone also features such AT&T-centered features like Mobile Email, which offers access to most personal email accounts, and Cellular Video, a video-streaming service which showcases several TV clips, music videos, and trailers.
Performance of the Samsung Propel
Within the Propel lies a 1000 mAh battery which allows up to 5 hours of straight talk time and over 10 days of standby. Not terrible for a 3G phone. Call quality was quite natural-sounding without any tremendous amount of static.
The Samsung Propel is currently one of the best text-centric phones AT&T has offered. The size, compared to the other text phones, is much more reasonable and easier to handle. The UI is simple to learn, especially if you have used a Samsung phone previously. I do wish the keys of the QWERTY keyboard were larger, but it’s rather difficult to find a way to make the keys larger without making the entire phone much larger in the process.
By no means is this phone a perfect solution for the text-hungry generation, but it gets the ball rolling in the right direction. It means we have the opportunity to show the phone companies how important these types of phones are by purchasing them. When they know the market is strong for this style, they will be able to find new and innovative ways of making phones.
Is this phone really the best of its kind for AT&T? That’s up to each individual to decide. If you have used it, played with it, knows a distant relative who touched it once, or are currently using it as your main phone, please leave us a comment and let us know what you think.
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- AT&T Samsung Propel Pro available starting today