Since this is a messaging phone, the Freeform II is adept at text and multimedia messaging. There's also a downloadable (but free) instant-messaging app with Yahoo Messenger, Windows Live Messenger, and AOL. A separate e-mail client accepts a wide variety of accounts, including Gmail, Hotmail, AOL, Yahoo, Comcast, and BellSouth. You can also add POP and IMAP settings, and can use those settings in a workaround to receive your work e-mail via OWA. Internet comes by way of the MetroPCS-branded MetroWeb.
The 1.3-megapixel camera takes so-so pictures, just as expected, but no multimedia messaging phone is without a shooter. Photos in our tests were colorful, but blurry. You can take photos in four resolutions (1280x960, 640x480, 320x240, or 176x144 pixels). Settings include single, series, and mosaic shots, three granularity settings, five white balance presets, night mode, four self-timer settings, six color effects, and three shutter sounds. If you don't have a 16GB or smaller MicroSD card, you'll have 42MB internal memory for photos.
If you do have expandable memory on hand, you can take advantage of the Freeform II's music player. It's very basic by default, with a small onscreen controller. However, you can change the music player interface in the oddly named Visual Supplements submenu; options include a player interface with an equalizer, album art, or a lyrics view (when the latter two are available). You can also create a playlist. Playback sounded fine to us, and sufficiently loud, through above-average earbuds.
We tested the Samsung Freeform II (CDMA 800/1900; AWS) in San Francisco on the MetroPCS network. Calls sounded good on the whole and were generally clear. Although the audio quality wasn't as crisp or defined as we've heard with some phones, the volume, timbres, and clarity were more than acceptable for both parties. Speakerphone was midrange, which isn't unusual. To our caller's ear, we sounded distorted, like we were speaking into a plastic cup. Voices on our end sounded a tad robotic with a metallic hum.
Samsung Freeform II call quality sample
When it comes to Web surfing and loading e-mail on the Freeform II, the phone's 2.5G speeds were surprisingly zippy on the native browser, mostly because MetroWeb removes all but a sketch of an image, so items render much faster. It took 5 seconds to load Google search results and about the same amount of time to load CNET's mobile page and several subpages. E-mail worked fine with the white-labeled app MetroPCS preloaded, though it took longer to send e-mails through and we're not fans of the program's dated look and feel, or its confusing navigation.
The Samsung Freeform II has a rated battery life of up to 5 hours talk time and 22.9 days standby time. It has a tested talk time of 5 hours and 48 minutes. According to FCC tests, the Freeform II has a digital SAR of 1.07 watts per kilogram.