Smartphones have become the Swiss Army knives of the mobile world, but the Samsung Propel Pro manages to support a variety of communications, multimedia and digital photography functions gracefully. While hardly a revolution in cellular handsets, it still makes a wise choice for folks looking for a well-designed phone at a good price.
Features & Design
The Samsung Propel Pro is a candy bar phone, short and stout at about four inches by two and a half inches. The thick half-inch frame hides a full QWERTY keyboard that slides from below. Despite the size, the Propel weighs in at under five ounces. The slick, sliver frame is light and cool to the touch.
The front has a two-inch screen and a crosspad with six buttons: Home, return, two context-sensitive areas and the traditional stop and go keys. Everything is silver, which keeps the front visually clean.
The left side has a power button, volume controls and a microSD slot. The right side has a camera button and a USB/headphone jack.
The hidden QWERTY keyboard has numbers overlaid left of center on the letters and characters on the remaining letters. At the bottom you’ll find the space and shift keys, as well as other keyboard standards. The back of the phone just has the Samsung logo, but pull out the keyboard and it exposes the 3.0 MP digital camera lens with a flash.
The Samsung Propel Pro is a quad-band GSM/GPRS/EDGE phone (850/900/1800/1900 MHz), which makes the Propel good for international travel. The phone operates on the AT&T network.
Setup & Use
The Samsung Propel Pro comes with a wall changer, a short USB cord, a Windows Mobile CD and a manageable instruction booklet. Also included is an advertisement for additional equipment, but everything necessary for day to day use can be found in the box.
After the fancy AT&T 3G startup screen, the Propel Pro launches to a clean, simple interface. Tap the crosspad up and down and you’ll cycle through the date/time, appointments, address book and a few other menus, while pushing left or right will move you through different options within those functions. For instance, the Message section shows missed calls, new voicemails, new texts and new emails all from the front page. The left softkey opens the Windows section and the wall of icons familiar to Windows Mobile users.
Internet performance is solid overall, but the phone’s best attribute is its keyboard. While corn-on-the-cob small, the Propel Pro’s keypad is responsive and accurate, even to clunky, male thumbs. Web page download speed was about average – probably more reflective of AT&T’s 3G growing pains rather than the phone itself – but the Propel successfully replicated more complex web pages. The left softkey makes it easy to zoom in and out of web pages, albeit in only two different ways.
The camera is just as strong with a plethora of resolution options balanced with easy use. To operate, you simply pull out the keyboard, turn the phone horizontally and press the camera button. To take a picture, hold down the camera button to autofocus and then wait a second later for the flash (and corresponding automated sound). Pictures can be immediately saved, sent via MMS or email, or uploaded to Snapfish. Video can be handled through the same process. Image quality is still a notch below that which you’d expected from a standalone 3.0 MP camera, but very good for a camera phone.
The Propel Pro uses the Windows Media Player – which means it understands WMA, MP3 and everything WMP does – and the traditional Windows Media Player drag-and-drop system adds tunes to the phone. The handset itself features a straightforward media interface with play, pause and forward/backward, and speaker sound quality is decent. In terms of miscellaneos added extras, the phone also has Wi-Fi, GPS and Bluetooth capabilities.
The Samsung Propel Pro is offered at $199.99 MSRP, which is a good price for the device. AT&T has a limited time $50 mail-in rebate, knocking it down to $149.99 with a two-year commitment. Being a multimedia phone though, you’ll want to factor in the price of a microSD card as well. More information is available at http://att.wireless.com.
Simple in design, yet fully featured, the Samsung Propel Pro is a good bargain – especially for those up for a two-year commitment. The one major flaw – the handset’s very average Internet speeds – will probably improve with AT&T’s 3G network upgrades, making the Propel Pro a phone to watch.
- Clean presentation
- Good keyboard
- Solid camera
- Average Internet speeds
- Light on frills