Straight Talk Samsung T528G Prepaid Touchscreen Cell Phone Review
This phone has received a considerable amount of negative reviews - compared against similar phones of the same price range, this is an excellent phone. Many of the negative reviewers seem to obviously be expecting the features of a $200 phone from a $80 - $100 Trac phone (UPDATE: Thanks to a commenter the Walmart retail of this phone is now only $28. I have not verified this, but if that be the case, this phone is an INCREDIBLE VALUE).
First off the OS on this system is not an Android (it is a Windows based OS), and it is technically not a smart phone but has MANY of the features of a smart phone. The browser is Dolphin, used by many Android based phones, so it is a decent browser, with some things you can do, some things you cannot. The phone supports some apps, others it does not...
This phone is a 3G pseudo-smart phone (it has many of the qualities of a smart phone but is technically not one because it lacks a few things, all of which I will mention) with a mid-sized touch screen and runs a Windows based operating system, as opposed to Android, for instance. The screen flips so it can be viewed horizontally or vertically in any screen/view, and texts can be done via regular virtual phone keys or a horizontal virtual keyboard. It is not loaded with apps, but has pre-loaded practical apps that will be covered in this review, as well as additional optional apps available from samsung... it doesn't have nearly the available apps of say an iPhone, which, while they are very very cool, especially things like, for instance, meditation breathing apps to transportation apps, mimic police scanners, and dining/store finders/reviews, and apps that allow you to practically run full programs, etc., however, for the value, the apps available (some installed with the phone, others available via samsung) are within reason and, like I said, are predominately very practical ones, and it also has a sizable amount of available game downloads as well, which run pretty well on this phone's CPU. It includes a decent but not an excellent dolphin based browser, facebook app (w/facebook sync option), an MP3 player, voice recorder, wi-fi capability, downloadable games, email sync, etc., and, again, other samsung apps are available for download. It is bluetooth compatible, and has wifi (which works excellently - when I'm at home or somewhere with free wifi I have no problem using it so I don't use up any of my data plan, which, btw, the 3G data plan on straight talk for $30 is generous - one reviewer had a problem with the wifi but likely was not finding a close enough signal). It also has manageable widgets for your apps that you can place on your phone's home screen(s)... 3 home screens you can slide through, and customize each with whatever widgets you want for quick app access as well as a different wallpaper/photos for each home screen.
One reviewer complained that it does not have a GPS option - there is a legal "hack" where you can get GPS on it by paying via a separate plan - you would have to do your own research. If GPS is a big thing for you and you're not a techie, this phone may not be for you. I have mapquest bookmarked on my browser as an alternative. It has very intuitive voice recognition app that has worked great for me, just as good as an iPhone, it is excellent for dialing in the car without actually dialing and then just using the speaker phone, for instance... however it will not type a text for you via voice (it will bring the create text screen up and address it, but won't type it by your voice, but, again, for 90 (28?) bucks it's awesome that it has the voice recognition features it has). It has a Micro SD card slot that can hold up to a 64 gig card (a very expensive card, however, the 32 gigs you can get for around $15, name brand Sandisk, if you shop around amazon - I have dozens of tv shows, and full length movies, and tons of pics and other docs and MUSIC as the phone can be used as an mp3 player and for viewing video) plus plenty of phone memory - It also has a SIM card you can save/backup contacts to. It takes photo and video and for only 2 mega pixel (I think) it is very decent quality (If you plan on taking regular video you should definitely purchase a micro SD card of 8, 16, 32 or 64 GB size). There is no zoom or flash, but there are video and photo effects you can apply. You can watch video on it (I've put movies and TV shows on it using format factory (reformat files using mobile phone setting) and they play and look and sound perfect). You can also stream video via the browser which has Flash but it has some limitations... read on) It works great as an MP3 player in the car, through headphones, speakers, or even through the phones speaker which goes to a decent volume, and although the PC sync is limited (you can't sync your contacts or back them up via data cable, or some other sync options - however - you can do this through straight talk website), you can sync it to your PC via data cable to read and manage your SD card data. You can also use a data cable to use the MP3 player (or just use the line out/headphone jack), and to charge the phone.
It has all the expected contact and phone personalization features you would expect from a normal phone, downloadable ringtones as well as the option to make any audio file (from the phone's audio recorder or MP3s on SD) a personalized or general ringtone, provided it is short enough (I've used Audacity to make my own snipets of songs and put them on the SD card for purpose of ringtone), it has a speakerphone and hands free of course as well as bluetooth as I mentioned, and all other contact personalizations (photo and ring personalization for each contact, customizable voice command for each contact, etc.) The phone charges INCREDIBLY quickly via the normal wall charger, and the charge lasts for a long time, even when you watch videos and use apps, browser, etc. (another user complained about battery life - I have had the exact opposite experience, and have had the phone for many months).
A couple things about the browser - for not running Android or iPhone, its pretty decent. However, it only supports Flash on certain levels... regular sites are no problem, but you tube does not work from the phone's network, but will work via wi-fi (i.e. when you have wi-fi on and are picking up a home pc network for instance or at a coffee shop, McDonalds, school, etc.), and I was a bit disappointed when I found out it would not support Pandora... its a fairly simple program to run as it is just audio stream (I have not tried this via wifi). It is not compatible with the Pandora mobile app unfortunately either... oh well...
The only other reasonable complaint about this phone, which is blown out of proportion by some other reviewers, is problems with the touch screen... It is not the most intuitive touch screen by any means... It is difficult to get used to at first and not as easy as others off the bat, but as with any phone, it merely takes some getting used to and you eventually use it as fast as any other phone. In many ways, for 100 bucks or less (now presumably only about 30), it rivals an Android, early iPhone, or basic smart phone... with a plan of 30 dollars a month for 1000 minutes, 1000 texts and 30mb of data time, it's unbeatable, and the unlimited plan is only $45. The Android for Straight Talk is much more money and you can only do the unlimited plan with the Android, and I am very happy with the $30 plan, so I chose this phone and am very very happy with it. Samsung I think, next to Nokia, makes the best quality phones out there. There is a similar model that is actually cheaper but has an actual flip out keyboard and a touch screen - I chose this phone, however, because it has a larger touch screen.
One of the only apps I do miss is Skype - this phone has no skype option. For 100 bucks, I don't expect a flash on the camera. Speaking of the word "flash" the limited Flash capabilities are no big deal to me but might be to others that want youtube and other streaming video on their phone anywhere (many sites, however, like yahoo and other major sites will stream video on this phone just fine however)... As mentioned, I miss the pandora option, but it holds tons of music with an SD card. It does not support Drop Box app, which is no big deal since you can put whatever docs you want on it anyway. A zoom and flash would be nice but again for the price its unbeatable. To round up the negatives, again GPS is only available via a legal hack, and like I said before, but mapquest will work, and the PC sync options are limited, as is the voice recognition. In addition, there are a couple of settings that are not adjustable, such as alerts, e.g. you cannot turn off and on the beep alert when you receive a new text or voice message, except by putting the phone in full silent mode.
Other than that, I feel like I got more than my money's worth. Like I said, its just a small step down from the Android, for me, anyway, and the features that you may miss are all in this paragraph, but, and not to be redundant, the value is great.
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Straight Talk Samsung T528G Prepaid Touchscreen Cell Phone Features
- 3.0" Touch Screen
- 3G/WiFi Connectivity
- 2.0 Megapixel Camera and Video Recorder
- Works on All you Need $35 month plan, or $45 Unlimited Plan
- Includes Battery, Charger and Services Guide
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