Review: Samsung SYNC
When you open some phones in the dark, the light from the screen is blinding. Even with brightness turned all the way up, the Sync's screen won't blind you in a dark room, yet it is still readable in direct sunlight. Although it may not be exceptionally bright, the QVGA display is large and sharp.
The external display is a large color display that is largely under-used, except with photo caller ID. Most notifications as well as the clock are displayed as small color graphics on a black background. Although it is not visually exciting, it is easy to read.
Just like the BlackJack we previewed recently, the Sync does a good job of holding onto a signal even in particularly weak coverage areas. We never saw a "no signal" status message, but there were a few places where we only got one bar of 2G coverage. Normally 3G coverage was strong, even indoors. We did notice that even though the home screen often said we had 3G coverage that the Sync would could not maintain it with extended data use. The Sync would often resort to EDGE, even when streaming a short video. As with the BlackJack, as signal strength decreases, the phone switches to 2G instead of dropping the signal.
The Sync passed the vault test with flying colors, we were able to do everything from check our mail to make phone calls, though in the farthest corner of the vault the Sync did switch to 2G mode.
The Sync's audio experience does not live up to the same high standard the screen sets for the visual experience. The loudspeaker is not very loud. In fact we would regularly miss phone calls, even in relatively quiet cafes, because the phone could not be heard with the ringer set at top volume. The vibration is not very aggressive either, so you cannot rely on it to alert you unless the Sync is in a very tight pocket.
The earpiece is sufficiently loud but suffers from poor sound quality. Voices sound muffled and there is some static. At first we chalked this up to poor reception, however calls sounded normal using a Bluetooth headset, which leads us to believe it is speaker.
It is also worth noting that Cingular and Samsung did not include a wired headset (mono or stereo) with the Sync.
With average use the Sync will go three days on a charge. We were impressed that frequent use of Bluetooth or high speed data (or even both together) did not decrease battery life significantly, knocking off a few hours at most. The battery indicator was accurate and went down smoothly over time instead of jumping or falling off suddenly.