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printed August 1, 2014
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Review: Samsung Galaxy Exhilarate for AT&T

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The Samsung Galaxy Exhilarate shoots for the middle of the smartphone market. It doesn't have the largest screen, the neatest features, or the flagship appeal that some of Samsung's devices have, but it manages to find a niche all its own.

The Exhilarate is dressed in all black and is more boring than bold in the looks department. It surely doesn't look bad - not at all - but nothing about its design stands out enough to call it a unique device. There are some shiny blacks, some matte blacks, and some grainy blacks. Perhaps it's the perfect phone for Goths.

For astute Phone Scoop readers, you might notice that the Exhilarate is very similar to the Galaxy Blaze 4G. The Blaze 4G has similar design, specs, and proportions. I found the feel of the Exhilarate to be much better.

Unlike many of Samsung's previous eco-friendly devices, you'd never know the Exhilarate was a green device based on appearances or feel. It's far and away the most solid and well put-together phone in Samsung's line of green devices. None of the materials feel cheap, and the build quality is excellent. I really like how the Exhilarate fits in my palm, and the soft-touch, matte-black battery cover gives it just the right amount of grip so that it doesn't slide out of your grasp. It shouldn't be a problem to fit into any pocket.

 

Click a thumbnail above for a larger view.

As with most Android smartphones, the front of the Exhilarate is all display. The AT&T and Samsung logos are about the only things you see on the front of the phone when the display is off. The normal four Android controls are placed along the bottom edge in capacitive form. I found them easy to use, and I liked the amount of haptic feedback they produce when pressed.

The volume toggle is on the left edge of the phone. It's easy to find, but I wish it had physical markings (whether it be a nub, or ridges, or whatever) that made it easier to tell which end you're pressing. Instead, it's a smooth piece of plastic. It offers plenty of travel and feedback.

As is typical for a Samsung device, the screen lock button is on the right edge. Samsung did a decent job with it. It protrudes just enough from the side surface that it is easy to find and use. The travel and feedback are quite good. The microSD card slot is buried in the right side, too, just below the power/lock button. It is covered by a little hatch that isn't much effort to pry off with your thumbnail.

The microUSB port is tucked on the bottom edge of the Exhilarate, and the 3.5mm headset jack on the top edge. The battery cover comes off with little effort. The SIM card is accessible without removing the battery, which is a pleasant surprise, as is the fact that the battery itself can be removed, too.

In all, the Samsung Exhilarate offers a somewhat bland approach to design, but the hardware all works well and feels good.

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