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printed November 19, 2017
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CES 2006

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Cingular 3G ROKR E2 Samsung D807 Samsung T709  

The Samsung SGH-T709 is a phone that accidentally leaked out at a recent Samsung press event, but now it's official and on display. The T709 isn't super-slim like the T809 and D807, but it's still small. The big feature of the T709 is built-in Wi-Fi.

The Wi-Fi features presumably use UMA technology for seamless roaming between local Wi-Fi networks and GSM networks. This will let you use your phone in places where there is Wi-Fi coverage but little or no GSM coverage. Since anyone can set up their own Wi-Fi base station for not too much money these days, it essentially lets people fill in "dead zones" at home or in the office themselves.

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Samsung's model numbering scheme is pretty transparent these days; if you pay attention, it's pretty clear which phones are going to which carriers just by the name. But if that didn't tip you off, the little logos on the d-pads are always dead giveaways.

So obviously the T709 is headed to T-Mobile, which makes sense given their extensive network of Wi-Fi hot-spots. T-Mobile is also expected to pick up Motorola's A910 UMA / Wi-Fi phone.

The T709 has what seems like a robust and fast interface for finding and configuring access to Wi-Fi networks. Unlike GSM, with Wi-Fi you have to do some configuring for each network you want to access.

We discovered an interesting screen in the T709's menus that references a "T-Mobile wireless router". Presumably this is a UMA-enabled Wi-Fi base station that T-Mobile plans to sell, to let people add coverage at home. That's the kind of hardware we expect every carrier offering UMA service to offer, but this is the first explicit reference to such a device we've seen for T-Mobile USA.

The T709 is no one-trick pony. Besides Wi-Fi, the phone also sports EDGE high-speed data, speakerphone, and - like the D807 - speaker-independent voice dialing. It also has a 1.3 megapixel camera with Samsung's newest camera software, which has a slick interface and supports advanced features like ISO control and various metering modes. There's no memory card slot, but it does have about 80 MB of internal memory. The display is 176 x 220 resolution.

Look for the T709 to hit shelves in the 2nd quarter.

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