Samsung t159 (T-Mobile) review: Samsung t159 (T-Mobile)

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CNET Editors' Rating

3 stars Good
  • Overall: 6.3
  • Design: 6.0
  • Features: 6.0
  • Performance: 7.0
Review Date:
Updated on:

The Good The Samsung t159 has terrific call quality, large buttons, visual voice mail, and an affordable price.

The Bad Samsung's t159 has a small display and weak resolution; it lacks a dedicated headset jack.

The Bottom Line An example of excellent call quality at a dirt-cheap price, the Samsung t159 excels at the basics, but stumbles on style.

Don't Miss

Simple flip phones like T-Mobile's Samsung t159 remain relevant for one primary purpose: placing and taking calls. Lacking the pomp of smartphones packed to the gills, they had better at least get call quality right. Thankfully, Samsung's $20, stripped-down t159 passes the audio test with flying colors.

Design and OS
There are flip phones with more sheen and style than the Samsung t159; in fact, almost all of them offer some graceful line or polished accent. Not so in the case of this stock phone. Its all-black form looks boring and cheap, the only interesting part is a fine-grain diamond pattern on the back panel. At least the finishes fit the $19.99 price tag. On the plus side, the t159's slim dimensions -- 3.8 inches tall by 1.9 inches wide by 0.6 inch thick -- fit it easily into pockets. At 2.9 ounces, it's also pretty light; a hair too light for my tastes.

A standard clamshell design puts a 1-inch external display out front for checking the time, and for viewing signal strength and alerts, like awaiting messages or missed calls, at a glance. Above the screen is a 1.3-megapixel camera lens with camcorder capability. Inside, the 1.8-inch screen is too small; it could easily stretch to 2 inches. Flipping open the phone instills confidence in the thick joint. The rubber stopper protecting the top of the phone isn't attractive, but it is effective.

Beneath the screen is a large navigation array that includes two soft keys, a Send and End/Power button, and a Clear button, all surrounding the four-directional toggle with central OK button.

The phone's volume rocker is on the left spine, and on the right you'll find the camera shutter button and the shared Micro-USB slot and headset jack. That means that you'll unfortunately need an adapter if you're planning to listen to music or messages from the t159 through a wired headset. There's no microSD card slot on the t159, which isn't necessarily a drawback for this type of entry-level device. Extra storage is always nice to have, but since the hardware design doesn't place a premium on photos or music, it's understandable why expandable memory didn't make the cut.

Samsung t159
It isn't a beautiful flip phone, but the Samsung t159 gets the job of calling done. Josh Miller/CNET

A proprietary operating system runs the t159 and unfortunately, its oversimplicity isn't easy on the eye. I know, I know, that sounds counterintuitive, but the default menu screen is plain white and the icons are a little simplistic. The 128x160-pixel QVGA resolution is poor, and it shows in larger lettering and in the icons. You can customize elements like the wallpaper, dialing display, and brightness and backlight times, but you can't change other graphical elements, or the font size.

Don't Miss

 

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Where to Buy

Samsung t159 (T-Mobile)

Part Number: SGH-T159 Released: 9 Aug 2012
Pricing is currently unavailable.

Quick Specifications See All

  • Regional specs shown for US. AU specs are unavailable.

  • Release date 9 Aug 2012
  • Talk Time Up to 300 min
  • Technology WCDMA (UMTS) / GSM
  • Combined with With digital camera / digital player
  • Service Provider T-Mobile
  • Weight 2.9 oz
  • Diagonal Size 1.77 in
  • Sensor Resolution 1.3 pixels