Review: Samsung T809
The display on the t809 is without a doubt one of the best we've seen in recent memory. The 18-bit 240x320 display provides five brightness settings, as well as controls for both when the backlight dims and when it shuts off completely, ranging from three minutes to fifteen seconds. Under standard indoor lighting, the maximum display brightness provides flawless visibility. In a dimly-lit pub however, the same level of illumination approaches uncomfortable. The few times we foolishly looked directly at the phone while using it as a midnight flashlight, our night vision was promptly shattered. Throughout our testing we kept the brightness at its minimum setting and almost zero visibility issues (Mid-day sunshine trumps even the best display).
The t809 displays a standard antenna and four bar signal indicator, which was accurate throughout our testing and rarely gave us false reads on network availability. Signal strength was great while on a call, with very little hiccup or clarity issues. Calls could also be made and maintained inside our stainless steel Apple mini store restroom. Unfortunately we had several occasions where calls would ring once before the phone reported a missed call. This behavior proved to be particularly frustrating by the end of our test.
The sounds of the t809 are a bittersweet experience. On the plus side, the performance of the speakerphone and music playback were excellent. The phone produced clear and loud calls and music from the built-in mp3 player application.
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Because of the off center earpiece (in order to accommodate the camera), calls tended to sound softer than we would've liked. The earpiece volume had to be set quite loud to maintain conversations in loud pub environments or speeding cars. We also found that the most effective way to talk required that one corner of the phone be pressed into our ear; a somewhat uncomfortable position.
Aside from call volume, the music playback software only decodes standard mp3 files, transferred either over Bluetooth or USB from our Mac. However these files were not usable as ringtones (there has been talk in our forums of how to circumvent this).
The t809's battery performed admirably over the course of our test. We saw three full days of use calling, texting, surfing, and taking half a dozen photos per day. We also accomplished all of this while keeping Bluetooth enabled. Keep in mind however that this was while using the lowest possible display brightness, so keeping the display brightness cranked up will bring down your battery life.
The first indication that the battery is depleting is a change in color (from blue to purple) of the first of the battery's three blocks of charge. From there forward the three charge blocks disappear periodically. The battery indicator could be more clear, as this combination of color and shape makes determining your battery life difficult.