T-Mobile Samsung Memoir review

It is a time for rejoicing in North America as Samsung has officially kicked off the era of high-res cameraphones with the brand new Memoir, released on T-Mobile Feb 25, which features an 8 MP camera.

What does this mean for the mobile phone industry? Up until now, phones have featured sub-par cameras with okay quality.

Since the Memoir is sporting a camera with better better megapixel count than my own personal digital still camera, and actually takes better pictures, it means phones and legitimately good point-and-shoot digital cameras can all be merged into one device.

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And this is just the beginning. Sony Ericsson is quick on Samsung’s heels by announcing 12 MP Idou, set to be released in the second half of this year. LG is planning one as well. This means we can expect to see a lot more phones with really high camera resolution in the near future.

Of course, megapixel count ain’t everything, and may not even mean much beyond certain point. Though every little bit helps. Your camera phone probably won’t ever be as good as even average DSRL, but that old point-and-shooter you’ve been bringing to trips and parties? That may well be coming with you in your phone very soon, if not now.

In the meantime, the spotlight is all on the Memoir, so let’s focus on that!

I was genuinely excited to see the Memoir show up at my doorstep. The buzz on this new phone has been overwhelming and is a great offering for T-Mobile, which (with the exception of the G1) seems to get passed by on many hyped-up phones.

T-Mobile Samsung Memoir User Interface

The Samsung Memoir features Touchwiz UI. Touchwiz is an easy to use interface which is largely defined by its customizeable drag-and-drop widgets. The widgets are meant to work as convenient shortcuts for the user — pick which widgets would be used the most, and then simply hold your finger over it and drag it onto the main screen and place it wherever you would like.

samsung-memoirwidgets

Examples of widgets include Bluetooth, Web, calendar, voice dial, and SMS, though there are around 15-20 different types of widgets you can choose from. You can use all or none of them, if preferred.

I did not have any problems finding my way around the Memoir because of the Touchwiz. My one frustration is that Touchwiz, without the right OS to back it up, does not have much of a selection of applications. This could potentially be a large concern since many rival manufacturers are announcing methods of downloading apps. I even tried to download Google Maps and discovered this was not possible. While it doesn’t have to be a smartphone, I would find it much more beneficial to have extra options available.

Design of the Samsung Memoir for T-Mobile

In many ways, the Memoir is essentially a Samsung Behold with 3 more megapixels added to the camera. But there are some differences in outward appearance. For instance, the Memoir was designed to look more like a digital camera. Touchscreen phone on front, 8 MP camera on back.

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When compared to other touchscreen phones the screen size of the Memoir is average. I sized it up next to the HTC Touch Pro and iPhone 3G, both well-known touchscreen powerhouses. The Memoir’s screen was larger than the Touch Pro but smaller than the iPhone.

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Also, the camera lens on the back is a bit bulky. In fact, the Memoir won’t even lay completely flat because of the camera bulging out the back. It’s not a noticeable difference unless the phone is laying on its back.

samsung-memoirtable

In addition to the touchscreen, the front of the Memoir offers 3 physical buttons — send, end, and previous.

On the left I find a charger port and expandable memory port.

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The right side has the volume, lock, and camera buttons.

samsung-memoirsideright

Ultimately the phone design is unique in that the back almost doubles as a Samsung digital camera — which is the whole point. The front of the phone itself does look somewhat boxy, with the Behold featuring more of a curvy design than the Memoir.

The Memoir was a bit lighter than I expected, weighing in at 4.4 ounces and is sized up at 4.17″ x 2.11″ x 0.55″.

Features of T-mobile Memoir

Camera — Certainly the camera was the whole focus of the Memoir. The 8 MP camera is no old-school offering. Here is an example of a picture taken with the Memoir camera.

The camera also features a spectacular Xenon flash. Pictures taken in pitch black still turn out really well.

Needless to say I came away very impressed by the quality of the flash. Also, red-eye reduction helps, especially for a guy like myself that wears contacts or glasses.

The camera comes loaded with 16x digital zoom, video recording, auto focus, multi-shot, panoramic mode, self-timer and support for uploading all your pictures directly to Flickr or Snapfish from the phone (without having to email or other apps). Lastly, the camera features antishake — meaning, the camera won’t actually take a picture while the phone is moving. This prevents you from having to retake the same picture over and over again just to get one that isn’t fuzzy.

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So, how good is the video recording on such a nice camera? The camcorder takes 30-frames-per-second video plus it has a slow-motion mode to capture 120-frames-per-second video. Not too bad at all, I’d say.

Here are some of the pics I took with the Memoir; one of the pics of me was taken in complete darkness, but I’m sure you’ll figure out which one it is. (click on thumbnails to see full sized image)

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The pics of the mountains were shot in landscape scene, whereas the pics of me were shot in portrait scene (the one of me on the left looks a little creepy). There are several different scenes for different styles of photography.

This next pic is a zoomed-in version of the first pic I showed off.

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One hesitation I have about the Memoir’s camera is that it’s a bit on the slow side. It takes 3-4 seconds to start up, and 6-7 seconds between taking pictures. Also, the shutter lag is somewhat slow as well; I noticed that when taking pictures it took a couple seconds to actually take it after pressing the button. A couple times I attempted to press the shutter a second time because I thought I hadn’t pressed it well enough.

Is the camera good enough to get rid of your digital camera? The jury’s still out on that one. It’s a great camera but, any way you look at it, it still is a camera in a phone, and will have its limitations as a result. The technology will improve over time, and phone cameras will continue to get better and closer to digital camera quality. The Memoir is certainly a good start.

Multimedia — Another strong point of the Memoir is its multimedia capabilities. In fact, there is a widget specifically made for the media player that you can put on the main screen, rather than having you going through the main menu.

I watched Ice Age on the Memoir with no complications. While the movie itself didn’t cover the entire screen, it was still refreshing to be able to watch a movie with the .avi format on a non-smartphone. Very convenient for keeping the kids busy or relaxing when the kids are asleep. Or if no kids are involved whatsoever. We’re not picky!

Speaker sound quality was excellent when watching the movie, and I did not require headphones to aid the sound.

Keyboard — Choose to have the QWERTY style in landscape mode or alphanumeric style when in portrait.

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Email — The Memoir supports T-Mobile’s Mobile Email application, which gives access to Gmail, Yahoo, Windows Live, AOL, and support for many smaller companies such as Juno and Earthlink. I must emphasize that this does not provide push email; rather, it is a style of pull email that notifies you when a new message has popped in your inbox, at which point you hit the link to the Email app. Really it just adds an extra step to retrieving your email.

samsung-memoiremail

The Memoir will not support corporate email.

Internet — The internet browser on the Samsung Memoir is actually a HTML browser. I was able to look up several websites and have them look almost identical to how they would appear on Firefox or IE. It was nice to be able to switch from landscape to portrait if the website looked better that way; the only negative about browsing on the Memoir is that with the screen being smaller, not the entire website will fit. This is something easy to get used to for a tech geek such as myself, however, that uses mobile internet as much as I use it on my computer.

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Fortunately T-Mobile chose to add 3G service into the Memoir to allow for faster internet and email downloading, but unfortunately for me my local area does not have T-Mobile 3G yet. Thus I could only judge internet speeds by T-Mobile’s EDGE network. It still wasn’t terrible, but I would love to hear comments from anyone who does live in a 3G area.

GPS — Since the Memoir has a-GPS built in, it is easy to get Telenav set up on the phone. I was able to utilize the Navigation system and get step-by-step directions spoken to me as I drove around to different places.

samsung-memoirgps

Memory — The Memoir holds 100 MB internal memory and has support for up to 16 GB external memory via MicroSD. There is a 1 GB MicroSD card included in the box, but if you are buying the phone mainly for the camera, I strongly recommend getting a larger card to hold more high-res pics and videos as well as put a little music on there if you want.

Performance of Samsung Memoir

Battery life — On a standard battery the phone is rated to get 5.5 hours of talk time and up to 300 hours standby. I would say that is a rather accurate estimation, as the 3G network and high-res camera will suck up a lot of juice. Again, if you are using the camera religiously, get a car charger just in case; chances are you’re going to need it often.

3G – The jury’s still out on this one as I did not have the opportunity to play around with the 3G network. EDGE worked decently, as expected.

Sound quality – I love the speaker on the Memoir. The calls I made came out very well and quite clear.

Touchwiz UI — It does take a little getting used to the new UI. It performs well, with only a slight half-second delay between screens. I do wish that Touchwiz offered more widgets, perhaps as a downloadable update. But that’s really my only complaint.

Overall I was impressed by the Samsung Memoir. The camera is of course the most notable feature and, with it being better than my own digital camera, made my mouth water. The thing is, though, that Samsung did not just slap a phone onto a camera; I feel that Samsung did a great job fusing two of their best consumer electronics together into one. It really isn’t a surprise though, since Samsung has already done this on several phones prior to the Memoir and has had plenty of time to get it right.

The Memoir is now available on T-Mobile for $249.99 with two-year agreement. For a phone and 8 MP digital camera together, that’s still a pretty good price. Please let us know your thoughts on the Memoir in our comments section!

Author: Brad Molen

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  • ray

    i just got my memoir n im luving it! i love every single feature this phone has. my only disappointment is the battery life ohh n one more thing is the web browser. everytime i close the web browser it will back automatically to the home page not the website i left of…please give me a solution for that ;)

  • Bill

    How is the contact information entered? Will it connect to your Microsoft Outlook?

  • sean

    My daughter recently got the memoir & she loves it. It has all of the fun features the teens love & very user friendly. In fact, I purchased one a few hours after she did. The best of all worlds, a phone, camera & GPS for me.

  • Brad

    I couldn't find a way to connect to Outlook, and with it not being a smartphone I'm not necessarily surprised. I believe there are ways to connect to Google but did not do the specific research to know for sure. The phone itself is pretty much limited to J2ME apps, so whatever you can find that will support Java is going to be your best bet.

  • Brooke

    I just purchased the Memoir 8 days ago and needless to say… I'm sending it back!

    Reasons:

    #1 BATTERY LIFE IS HORRIBLE

    The battery does not last like they say it will… Take today for example: It was fully charged at 10am… I made two short phone calls (less than 3minutes total) and sent/received about 120(I know that is a lot) text messages and my phone is now on its last bar and requesting it be charged… it is 3pm. I don't know about you but that is unacceptable!

    I just came from having a Blackberry Pearl and with the same wear and tear… that battery lasted days!!! I'm so disappointed and sad that I will have to return it as I love taking pictures and was willing to fork over the $300 bucks for this camera (***IN A RECESSION might I remind everyone!!!) just to have it and whomp! whomp!…. This disappointment will be going back to T-MOBILE…

    Picture Messaging:

    EXTREMELY DELAYED… It will go to send the picture… and 5 minutes later let you know that it sent or failed(which happened many times).

    Memory:

    I have had several messages (atleast 4 so far) that let me know my inbox was full and I had to delete messages to continue… Weird that the inbox was full but outbox was just fine (never received one message to delete the outbox this entire time)…. Very annoying!!!!

    SCREEN FREEZING:

    So far, I have experienced on 5 separate occassions…. the screen freezing when going from an incoming call back to the last screen…. I don't mind a delay but this was a scrambled screen as if it were broken– when you are working on a touch screen… it gets pretty scary!

    So for those of you who don't really use your phone and want the camera… I'm sure you will love it! But those who have a busy life style and are heavily reliant on technology for communication purposes… Stick to what we know works…. BLACKBERRY!!!

  • D

    That's the SE Xperia by HTC.
    Not the HTC Touch Pro.

  • James

    Great and detailed review. Although, I would have liked to see something about the 3G performance. I would still give this a 9/10 on the “James Scale”. It seems I've already read too many negatives (not only from your review) to make this my new hone, upon return from deployment. “Damn you Samsung! You looked so friggin awesome too!”

  • ashley

    i just got mine the other day for a good price and i LOVE it. yes are some problems like the battery life and the freaking camera taking a minute but over all i think it is a great phone to have. not only for the phone use but also for the camera. i have token some many pictures with it already that it aint even funny.

    i traded in my sidekick ID for this phone and i wouldnt go back. it was worth the money.

  • Samantha Toliver

    i just got mine like 3 days ago i mean the camera is great but i cant get the pics to download onto my computer and then i have several messages stuck in my outbox that are in the process of “sending” but it has been like 24 hours and i cant delete them so they are just sitting there and also since i cant get them to download i figured i would send them to my email like with my old phone but they come out broken up like they didn't fully load or something……so im thinking about sending it back…… : (

  • Samantha Toliver

    can anyone tell me how to delete the pics in my outbox that didnt send!!!!!
    it says “sending” any time i click it but it does not give me the option of deleting it!!!!!

  • Samantha Toliver

    ha!!! i figured it out how to get those messages outta my outbox that were in the process of sending but didnt i just turned my phone off and then visited my outbox and it allowed me to delete them so im happy but the usb thing still sucks and when i send them to my email they come out broken up eeeekkkkk

  • Mary

    I've had my Memoir for almost two weeks. There are things I love and things I hate. I bought it specifically because I had a foreign exchange student coming and wanted to email pictures immediately to her family. Although it showed that picture messages were sent and arrived, her parents said they got none of them. I tried emailing them to myself with the same results. I'm not sure what I'm doing wrong or if it's the camera. The same thing happened with the Audio Postcard feature, which I had planned to use a lot. I read the manual and followed the steps accurately, but minutes later got a message saying they didn't go through.

    Any suggestions? Do you have to go through Flickr or one of those websites? It doesn't look like that when you are attempting to send a picture message. Help!

    Like others, I'm disappointed in the battery life. And my old T-Mobile Dash could synch with Outlook, which the saleswoman told me the Memoir cannot do.

    The T-Mobile saleswoman questioned why I would want this phone when the Blackberries are so much better, have more apps, etc. She has both. I'm thinking of taking the Memoir back and going back to my Dash or trying a Blackberry. Does BB have a phone that can send photos directly from the camera?

    Looking for answers!
    Thanks

  • nette

    The Blackberry Curve is awesome!!! yes you can send and recieve pictures from the phone . The Curve also has PUSH email (email pops up in mailbox immediately).
    you can even have seperate folders for txt ,mms,and all email accounts.
    The battery life is great in a course of a day i recieve/send over 200 txt. i also recieve at least 50 email and can still talk 1 0r 2 hours !
    the cameras I have seen better but I have not one complaint abourt my Blackberry Curve 8320. as a matter of fact Blackbery are highley recommended!!
    try the newer verson blackberry 8900 . log onto Blackberry.com it will give you all the details.
    Blackberrys are for serious people that dont have time for nonesense of newer gadgets . GPS, CALENDER,CAMERA INTERNET BROWSER, VIDEO, ALARM, ETC.. just to name a few applications Plus blackberry hasan application store(google it).
    once you go black ( berry,that is) you'll never go back. read reviews awesome.Thanks for memoir info was looking to purchase one as a present but never mind now.

  • Fred

    If people took the time to read manuals and learn their device then things wouldn't be so complicated. The devices are made for the average user and if you can't figure it out take some classes on learning how to use technolong. It's really not that difficult.

  • kristina(:

    um i got a question my phones is gay i got the behold and the camera keeps comeing on how do you stop that ?

  • bob

    hey kristina u r hot!!!!!

  • kristina(:

    wow bob

  • jocelyn0909

    This phone is legit! got it for graduation, and gave my old 6.2 MP camera to my mom. I love the music player, the telenav, the camera, but NOT the quality of the sound on the video mode. other than that, im so happy to have the phone.

  • bleedniris

    the 3G is actually really fast. i would say as fast as broadband on a regular computer. i've been able to watch streaming movies and videos off of youtube and other streaming sites on the memoir in a matter of a few seconds of loading.

  • Chris

    Ok, bad news for the memoir lovers… My memoir and I must part now because it keeps freezing… Won't allow me to applications I need… Can't make calls, nada… It's a really great phone until it starts having issues….

  • phonesreview

    Nice article. Thanks

  • annamo25

    Just have to say, I've had my Memoir for just over a month and I love it! Yeah, the battery life isnt that great, but I also take TONS of pictures, text all day and am constantly on Facebook and Twitter. I bought a charger that works in the car AND in a regular plug, so that problem is solved! As for the people with problems sending picture messages, keep in mind of your location and where you are sending the pics. If you are sending an 8mp photo to someone with a not-so-smart phone, there will probably be problems.If you are sending photos while in areas with bad reception (not enough bars) this could also hold up your messages.

  • Aekero

    Eh, wanted this for a pure camera replacement….doesn't really come close.

    Great pictures in ideal conditions i.e. good light, still shots. Action shots, not so much, that's if you can even time it right because it takes a full second to take the picture after the button push.

    Night shots? Forget about it, with the shutter lag the flash actually goes off too early, so unless it's a very close shot i.e. self portrait, I end up with pretty much no light. Have tried adjusting “scene” to pretty much all of them, tweaked the settings, nothing really works to improve night time pictures for me. :(

  • Amanda

    you can sync with outlook if you have the software downloaded from the samsung website.

  • tyl14

    HI my name is i got the memoir 2 mouths algo im a phone geek and i know phones real well. Back to the memoir ok to be onest i love the memoir but their is1 things i dont like about it the camera is a littol slow like a 1.0 or 2.0,3.0,5.0 all the same but evry thing els i like. i think if you like the phone get for $580.00

  • Tim-E

    I actually do not like BlackBerry's…. I believe they were quickly put together, and the software is nice and different, however simplicity is nice, too. BlackBerry's also require stupid agreements. I realize the Memoir does the same, but its not observably dumb like BB's.

  • sharimom4

    I had a Blackberry Pearl before this phone and the pictures sent anywhere right from the camera screen. I am disappointed that I can't send directly to Facebook, would save time

  • Name

    I love the Memoir too, but I find the sound quality HORRIBLE> I have had to exchange it after 1 week and am considering exchanging it agian. All of my calls echo and the people on the other end have said that it fades out and they can't hear me. Any suggestions. I really want to keep this phone, but need better audio.

  • Gino

    I have att servic but a T929 sumsung unlocked. it will not do anything but use the telephone, cannot get into media set or out of the media, web t mobile default. so not very good. There should be a means to have settings work with any cell provider?
    gino

  • kehinde

    my phone is not letting my set a background on it. like one of my pictures as a wallpaper. also it always says the file memory is full but i have nothing in them so it wont let me even send pictures messages. HELP PLEASE!!!!!

  • annett_09

    I have a question i just got my phone yesterday and i been trying to figure out if there is any way i can delete the recent recipients when creating a new message?? is there a way in deleting that??

  • annett_09

    i just got my phone and i like it so far but i just have a question is there any way that i can delete the recent recipients when creating a new message??

  • Arlii

    I got the Samsung Memoir about 4 months ago, and I enjoy it. I have had a bad rash with phones (Motorola is my enemy) but found one I can live with. The Memoir has only frozen on me once. The relay time is fine. The biggest problem I have with it is that the shutter on the camera will remain closed once in a great while. Great sound quality and good battery life for the amount of apps and what not.

  • Eri

    I have 3G service in my area and it work great. and the pages open full

  • annamo25

    I had this problem with the memory. Go to your local Tmobile store. They were able to help me out.

  • Taynia

    What websites can I go to to download apps for the phone?

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Garrett-Brown/100000750643599 Garrett Brown

    A sophisticated device which gives camera like feel, highest regards to the 8MP Camera quality.The built-in haptic feedback feature is becoming a standard feature on all Samsung touch-screen handsets. I am using it for a while now and it is still in really good condition. Amazing photo quality, I found it worth it.

  • http://www.phonearena.com/ abc123

    bsds

  • http://www.cellhub.com/ Michelle

    Using this for a while now i find it worth it. amazing picture quality.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Garrett-Brown/100000750643599 Garrett Brown

    A sophisticated device which gives camera like feel, highest regards to the 8MP Camera quality.The built-in haptic feedback feature is becoming a standard feature on all Samsung touch-screen handsets. I am using it for a while now and it is still in really good condition. Amazing photo quality, I found it worth it.

  • gareetbrown

    Using this for a while now i find it worth it. amazing picture quality.