Posted by admin at August 12, 2011

Category: Cell phones

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The Samsung Gravity 3 is an excellent slider phone for messaging fiends on T-Mobile. It's a near-clone of the Samsung Restore on Sprint, but T-Mobile's version improves the ergonomics and doesn't emphasize the green angle as much. The Gravity 3 is also a shrewd update to last year's already solid Gravity 2, as it adds 3G and roomier keyboards. As a result, the Gravity 3 is our new Editors' Choice for T-Mobile feature phones.

The Gravity 3 looks sharp and feels well-built. It measures 4.7 by 2.1 by 0.6 inches (HWD) and weighs 4.3 ounces. A dark chrome accent runs around the side, and electric blue plastic surrounds the keyboard. The back panel is made of a hard textured plastic with a matte finish. The 2.4-inch, 320-by-240 LCD is slightly brighter and larger than the Gravity 2's display. The four-row, slide-out QWERTY keyboard has recessed, oval-shaped, backlit keys with a soft-touch coating. The staggered layout looked a bit odd, but made it easy to type silently and quickly. Dialing numbers on the bubbled numeric keypad was also faster and more accurate than with the Restore's thinner keys. One small issue: When you slide out the QWERTY keyboard, the on-screen UI options no longer line up with the two programmable soft keys.

The Gravity 3 is a quad-band EDGE (850/900/1800/1900 MHz) and a dual-band HSDPA (1700/2100 MHz) device without Wi-Fi. T-Mobile has no 3G coverage in my area, so I tested the phone primarily in 2G mode. Voice quality was OK, with a decent amount of gain in the earpiece, and a slightly hollow sounding tone with too much upper midrange. Reception was average, and callers said I sounded fine. Calls sounded clear through an Aliph Jawbone Icon ($99, ) Bluetooth headset. The Nuance-powered voice dialing worked over Bluetooth without training. The speakerphone was too weak for anywhere louder than a quiet room indoors. Battery life was excellent at 11 hours and 27 minutes of talk time in EDGE mode.

As with the Gravity 2, T-Mobile chose an odd, circular menu for the Gravity 3's default setting. Switching to grid mode helped, although the nine wire-frame icons still looked cheap. Getting around was simple and fast using the five-way control pad—a much better choice than the Restore's inaccurate optical trackpad. The Access NetFront 3.5 browser delivered slow but accurate WAP and HTML pages. T-Mobile includes personal and Microsoft Exchange e-mail access, plus access to AIM, MSN, and Yahoo IM accounts (but not Google Talk). A "social buzz" app gives you integrated Facebook, Twitter and MySpace updates. The phone also syncs with PCs using Samsung PC Studio. In the past, we've found PC Studio to be buggy and difficult to use - so we wouldn't rely on it - but many other feature phones don't even offer a local syncing option at all.

Specifications
Service Provider
T-Mobile
Screen Size
2.4 inches
Screen Details
240-by-320-pixel, 262K-color, TFT LCD
Camera
Yes
Network
GSM, UMTS
Bands
850, 900, 1800, 1900, 2100, 1700
High-Speed Data
GPRS, EDGE, UMTS, HSDPA

TeleNav GPS Navigator offers voice-enabled, turn-by-turn directions for $10 per month; you can use the free, built-in Google Maps if you don't need voice prompts. The app took several minutes to lock onto routes and sounded a bit tinny, but it worked well as a stand-in for a PND. Unfortunately, you can't load non-T-Mobile-provided apps onto this phone, so Opera Mini and its ilk are out.

T-Mobile's plan pricing is quite reasonable, unlike AT&T or Verizon. If you're in a good T-Mobile coverage area and choose equivalent data features, you'll save hundreds over a two-year period. On the other hand, the phone's $49.99 price is only if you sign up for a $15 messaging and data plan or higher; otherwise the Gravity 3 costs $99.99. At least the plan isn't required, like it is with many AT&T and Verizon phones.

Multimedia, Camera, and Conclusions
The Gravity 3 has 70MB of free internal memory for ringtones, Java apps, and photos. Music isn't its strong point. My 16GB SanDisk card worked fine in the microSD card slot underneath the battery cover. MP3 and AAC tracks sounded bright and crisp over Motorola MotoROKR S9-HD ($129.99, ) Bluetooth headphones, with no background hiss. But the music player app chopped off the first few seconds of every track, and didn't display album art. If you want to avoid your music getting chopped, there's no dedicated headphone jack, so you'll need to find a microUSB-compatible set; alas, few of those will sound any good. 3GP video files played smoothly in full screen mode, but my MP4 and WMV files wouldn't load.


The 2-megapixel camera lacks a flash or auto-focus. Test photos were quite good, with vibrant color, a natural light balance, and solid resolution both indoors and out. Shutter speeds were about average; I lost an indoor photo or two to motion blur, but it wasn't bad. Video was pretty much out; the phone recorded useless 176-by-144-pixel thumbnail-sized files.

As long as you don't put a premium on music playback, the Gravity 3 nails the form factor, keyboards, GPS, and camera. If you'd rather have a touch screen than a numeric keypad, look at Samsung's Gravity T instead. T-Mobile users who want a plain phone without a QWERTY should shop for the flip Nokia 3711 (Free-$119.99, ), which works well for voice calls, music, and video playback. But we find the Gravity 3 the best all-around choice.

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