Hands-on Review of the Samsung Moment
Motorola and HTC have been looked at as the frontrunners in the race for Android supremacy. However, in the course of a month, Samsung has made its fair contribution to the Android fans by introducing two new handsets: the Behold II and the Moment. I had the pleasure of reviewing both these units in succession to each other, and the difference was quite noticeable between the two.
From playing with both units I could find pros and cons on each one. Keyboard, processor, camera, form factor, software update, screen resolution, and voice search are some of the key points of difference that we’ll get into in this review. The question, as always: how well does the Moment hold up in a rapidly expanding sea of Android handsets?
Design/Hardware of the Samsung Moment
Looking around the device we easily find the decent-sized keyboard hidden underneath an average-sized 3.2″ touchscreen display. The keyboard itself is spaced out well enough, though the keys are flush. I found it easy to type on this keyboard though, with the small exception of the bottom row. Smartphone keyboards can be tricky in terms of how to cram all the keys in without adding too much space; key placement is critical on a smartphone, and I felt like it would take a lot of getting used to where exactly these keys were in comparison to any standard QWERTY keyboard. For instance, the space bar is part of the bottom row of letters, smack dab between the V and the B. Then you have the backspace, enter and navigation keys on the right side, all of which are placed awkwardly.
The touchscreen itself is designed in a unique way. First off, Samsung elected to make the screen AMOLED, always a great idea in my opinion. AMOLED screens simply take the cake because of the brightness and clarity of the screen. It’s incredibly easy to see the entire screen, and there’s no mistaking how beautiful it looks as a result. The Moment is officially the first Android QWERTY device with AMOLED included.
The Moment’s touchscreen has two parts to it; one is the normal touchscreen as you’d find on any average phone, but below the screen are touch keys that take up valuable “touch real estate”: the Home, Menu and back buttons. The keys are easy to use, but I get the suspicion that those keys could’ve been moved to the very bottom of the phone’s front, nestled in with the call and end buttons. In the middle is the optical navigation pad. The pad’s good to have in general — it sure beats not having anything at all — but I preferred to just navigate using the touch interface instead.
One other note about the screen. On many phones, I find the touchscreen to be hard to use simply because there’s a small layer of cushioning, or “give”. I feel that the screen isn’t as interactive because of this, as it takes a much more firm push in order to initiate apps or scrolling of any kind. The iPhone, in contrast, has no give on its touchscreen, which I prefer because it allows for easier touching and scrolling. Many people may disagree because having extra cushioning makes you feel like the screen won’t break easily, but this isn’t a huge concern for me personally. The Moment does not have any kind of give, which is a huge bonus in my book.
Pressing the end button typically locks the phone; pressing the same followed by Menu will unlock it.
On the left side you can find the volume adjust keys, a little section to put a lanyard, and on the top is the 3.5 mm headphone port.
Going to the right side of the phone reveals dedicated camera and voice search buttons as well as the MicroUSB charging port.
The back doesn’t have a whole lot, especially compared to the worldwide map located on the back of the Behold II. Frankly, I prefer the minimal approach on the back. All that can be found besides the name of the phone is the camera with flash and mirror.
Now let’s talk about what’s under the Moment’s hood. The ARM 800 MHz processor that was packed in is the most significant part of the whole device. This is one of the best processors we’ve seen so far in an Android handset, and I could definitely tell in just a few minutes that it had a huge performance advantage over the Behold II. For one, the Moment doesn’t have TouchWiz installed on it which bogged down the already-sluggish Behold II’s performance. This was a huge sigh of relief for me when I began using the Moment.
My overall view of the Samsung Moment’s design is rather grim. While it does have strengths such as its beautiful touchscreen, the keyboard leaves a lot to be desired. It’s also thicker than most people like, so it doesn’t feel as natural in the hand as other Android devices. While weighty, though, it is certainly a good solid phone.
Below is a good side-by-side photo comparing the size of the Moment to the Behold II.
Features of the Samsung Moment
Software: Samsung opted for Android 1.5 stock on the Moment at time of release, which with a lot of recently released Android phones is a point of contention. It’s just hard to understand why one handset gets 2.0 while another gets 1.5 when released at roughly the same time. But let’s move on. I was happy to find that the Moment did not have the TouchWIZ interface as the Behold II has, as I felt that interface just slowed down the processor that much more.
As on many Android handsets I noticed there were 3 home screens to put apps on (outside the normal app bin, of course). A couple of the screens had some Sprint add-ons and other bookmarks thrown in for good measure. Sprint added on SprintTV, NFL, and NASCAR apps, as well as Sprint Navigation. I didn’t spend too much time in these features.
Camera: 3.2 MP camera with flash; not great, not terrible. Video recording is possible, and the app allows you to adjust the resolution of those videos. The Moment is also capable of geotagging photos. Samsung always goes over the top with bells and whistles on the camera, and the Moment is no exception. I wanted higher res photos on a device of this caliber, but 3.2 seems to still be standard in most smartphones released nowadays.
Mail and messaging: With Android, email accounts are very easy to set up, especially if you primarily use Google and Gmail anyway. If not, it is still quite easy to get any other type of mail, POP and IMAP included, on the Moment. Exchange mail support is accessible via the Moxier Mail app. Everything is pretty much stock Android in this category. The one thing hard to get used to, again, is the actual keyboard itself. But frankly, using the touch keyboard works out a little better. Which begs the question: why get a thicker and bulkier phone with physical keyboard if you prefer using the touchscreen keyboard anyway? Seems a little odd.
Internet: Using Sprint’s data network, the Moment is capable of EVDO Rev. A and also carries WiFi. It’s good to see WiFi included, as Sprint has been on a crusade as of late to ensure all future smartphones will have it. The browser itself is Webkit, aka the standard browser. It comes with a zoom bar, so sadly there is no multitouch option.
Multimedia: Much like mail and messaging, multimedia features on the Moment are essentially all stock Android. Nothing new that we haven’t seen before, so we’ll move on.
Voicedial: The Moment does have this capability, supported by Nuance. Nuance is carried on several different handsets, such as the Samsung Omnia II, so it’s a popular choice. One thing I noticed when comparing this phone to the Behold II was that the latter phone had voice-enabled Google search on the homescreen, whereas the Moment only has a regular search bar that you must type in, opting instead for the voice search button on the side of the phone.
In explaining the features of the Samsung Moment, there really isn’t anything new or unique that sticks out. It looks as though Samsung really just cranked out an Android for Sprint as quickly as possible, without much regard to innovation. I’m not saying this is a problem, because it is still a very good performing phone, but there’s nothing about the Moment that would make me want to pick it over, say, the Hero or the Droid.
Performance of the Samsung Moment
I felt like the Samsung Moment is a solid device. At 5.67 oz, it’s certainly weightier than the average smartphone, but at least it doesn’t feel like a cheap plastic piece of junk just waiting to fall apart in your hands. There’s nothing about this phone that would make you feel like it’s not durable enough to withstand normal wear and tear (by that, I’m not saying you can drop it at will and have it be okay, but you get my drift).
Call quality was excellent across the board. The internal speaker as well as speakerphone on the device were plenty loud for me to understand what others were saying, and vice versa.
Battery life is better on the Moment than most other Android devices. It’s rated for 5 hours of talk time on a 1440 mAh battery, and that’s just about what I was able to squeeze out of it on a normal-use day.
The processor, at 800 MHz, was much faster than most Android devices out there, and I could tell a difference. Perhaps it wasn’t as huge a difference as it should be, going from the standard 528 MHz, but it was noticeable. It seems to be a general consensus among Android reviewers that for whatever reason anything less than a 2.0 Android device seizes a large chunk of processing power. It just isn’t as zippy as you’d expect a 800 MHz handset to be, and it’s likely due to the Android 1.5 OS.
My feelings on the Moment are so-so. The device has an awkward QWERTY keyboard that doesn’t allow the user to type naturally (like if they were using a computer keyboard, in other words), but Samsung seems to make up for it by throwing in a beautiful AMOLED screen that’s easy to scroll and type on. But quite frankly, the Moment is a stock Android device that doesn’t add much spice to it. You certainly get a good enough experience, but nothing out of the ordinary when compared to its competition.