Samsung T509 Review

Samsung T509
MSRP $0.01
“The T509 is just a poorly-designed phone that seems rushed and needs a bunch of issues fixed before it hits shelves in May...”
Pros
  • Very thin; attractive design; great GUI
Cons
  • Poor camera quality; lacking features; slow text messaging

Summary

Ever since Motorola introduced their RAZR V3 cell phone, design has been a huge deciding factor for many when it comes to purchasing a new phone. Samsung’s latest offering–the SGH-T509–is an ultra-thin candy bar phone that puts both Motorola’s RAZR and SLVR phones to shame, coming in at only 9.8mm thick. However, the SGH-T509 has its shortcomings and could be improved in many areas. This is a great phone for someone looking for pure fashion without functionality, but it even fails somewhat in the design department. Read on to find out why the T509 turns out to be a disappointing phone.

Features and Design

Samsung’s T509 is about as thin as a cell phone can get. It comes in at an astonishing 9.8mm thick and will be available from T-Mobile in May. Right off the bat, though, you’ll notice this phone is long. So long, in fact, that it sort of kills the thin design Samsung had in mind for this phone. The keypad and button layout are what you’ll find on most Samsung phones, and it also has a circular d-pad in the middle. The buttons are a little too big and could have been cut down to reduce the length of this phone, which would have made this phone a knockout. If Samsung could take off an inch or so, they’d have a serious SLVR competitor on their hands.

The phone feels half metallic, half plastic, which produces the feeling that you are holding a toy in your hand. After awhile you’ll get used to it, though, so don’t worry too much about this.

People will be sure to love the 1.9″ LCD screen on the T509. It’s got 65,000 colors that look amazing (there’s no need for 262k colors with a phone that only does so much and is designed with fashion in mind). The T509 also has EDGE capabilities, so you can take advantage of high-speed internet browsing thanks to T-Mobile.

This phone is low on thrills, though. It has a dedicated camera button and charger port on the right, and volume control on the left. There is no music player software included or the ability to upgrade your storage space. Samsung has a great user interface, as always, and users of the T809 will notice that the T509’s UI is almost identical. There is IM, text and media messaging, and other features like web browsing.

On the back of the phone is a very industrial-looking case with a small VGA camera/camcorder. Why Samsung hasn’t caught on to using 1.3-megapixel cameras in most of their phones yet is beyond me; VGA is just too low-grade to be used for anything else other than MMS. The phone does have Bluetooth, so headset users shouldn’t fret. It connects perfectly fine with a computer, too, so you can transfer files and ringtones.

One thing worth mentioning is that consumers interested in the T509 should be very careful about choosing this phone. It fits perfectly in a tight pair of jeans, so women will without a doubt love the design. But while walking around the city one day, I noticed I was walking over a lot of grates. This phone will fall through any crack you can imagine, so you have to be very careful not to drop it (point being this is a very thin phone). Plus, the phone isn’t that strong, so it will probably shatter if it falls a few feet. Just keep these things in mind when considering this phone in May.

Samsung T509
Samsung T509

Setup and Use

The T509 gets great battery life. On a full charge, you can talk normally and play with the phone a great deal for about three days straight. The battery bar seems as though it never goes down, which is great on a phone this small. Call reception is pretty decent in most areas and the quality of a call is superb. Every word is heard loud and clear and the noise cancellation works great. Those who want a fashionable phone with great reception and call quality should consider this phone.

Samsung T509Text messaging is an issue, though, with the T509. The keypad is a normal size, but the buttons above it are too big. You’ll find yourself accidentally hitting these buttons quite a few times if you text message a lot. The predictive text is very slow, too. It can’t keep up with fast-paced messages, so you’ll find yourself going back quite a lot to fix words. This is a huge annoyance and I hope it is fixed by the time the phone is released in May. Picture messaging isn’t a problem at all, though, and works like a charm.

Because Samsung decided to cheap out on the camera on this phone, it’s pretty much worthless unless you picture message someone a lot. The VGA-quality pictures look like utter disasters when transferred onto a computer where you can view them in full resolution. Graininess, bad color, and fuzziness plague every picture taken, no matter what the conditions are. Plus, there’s no flash included on the T509, so forget about taking pictures of anything in the dark. The T509 also does videos, but at a horrible frame-rate, and each clip is limited to 10 seconds; I don’t know about you, but I certainly can’t record anything of value in less than 10 seconds. For a cell phone camera to be decent, it needs to be 1.3 megapixels. Try putting the camera used in the A950 or T809 in here, Samsung, and you’d have a much better phone.

The IM client included on the phone is great. Samsung has one of the best UIs in the cell phone industry. It’s easy to navigate, easy to use, and makes great use of keypad shortcuts. Using AIM on the phone was fun and easy to use. It’s also pleasant to look at and makes the experience more enjoyable. Predictive text seems to work better here than it does while text messaging.

For transferring files, I used my iMac and a Bluetooth connection. It connected pretty seamlessly, but once inside the phone, no files were available. I had to individually send each picture I wanted to my iMac, using the phone. This was a hassle I shouldn’t have had to deal with; the Samsung T809 never had a problem like this. Pairing was pretty easy and the file transfers went quickly, so Bluetooth seems to work pretty nicely on the T509.

Performance

Unfortunately, the T509 is not a great phone. It’s a fashion phone, with design trumping features. Compared to other fashion phones–such as the Samsung A900, Samsung BLADE, Motorola RAZR, and Motorola SLVR–this phone falls short and does not outperform any of the aforementioned phones. The candy bar design is too long and needs to be shortened by about an inch. A music player feature and the ability to upgrade the memory would make this a better phone than the SLVR. The camera is absolutely atrocious and should be redone completely before going out to the general public.

Creating a very thin phone with minimal features can be done right; Nokia’s 7380 is a perfect example of combining few features with good looks to make an excellent phone. The T509 is a great idea and the thinnest phone yet, but it’s not executed properly. Things need to be changed to make this phone worth the money, and since no price has been announced yet, we hope it comes in low.

Below are some sample images from the T509 and some video samples:

Samsung T509 Sample Image
Samsung T509 Sample Image
Samsung T509 Sample Image

Click here for video sample 1 (Quicktime must be installed)

Click here for video sample 2 (Quicktime must be installed)

Conclusion

People who just want a phone with great call quality to take out with them will like this phone for sure. However, technology is progressing, just like people’s wants and needs, and the Samsung T509 from T-Mobile isn’t offering any advanced features. VGA cameras have been around forever in phones, so any phone still using them is making a bad move. The T509 is just a poorly-designed phone that seems rushed and needs a bunch of issues fixed before it hits shelves in May; hopefully, Samsung has caught on and will improve things such as the camera, text messaging, and keypad design. In the meantime, if you want a thin phone that isn’t a flip-style phone, grab a SLVR from Motorola and enjoy the features it comes with.

Pros:

  • Thin design
  • Great UI

Cons:

  • Awful camera
  • Lacks features
  • Text messaging is too slow

Editors' Recommendations