Samsung Gravity Q (T-Mobile) review: Buy it for the keyboard, but not much else

As you'd expect from a keyboard device, the Q supports many kinds of written communication, including text messages, messages accompanying photos and videos, and some e-mail services. Keep in mind, though, that while domestic text and photo messages are free with any T-Mobile service plan, e-mail uses data. Yes, you do get 500MB of data with the carrier's cheapest plan, but you'll have to factor in e-mail when monitoring your data use. Fortunately, the Gravity Q's tiny display and slow 3G connection won't put you in a data-crazed mood in the first place. The same goes for the Web browser. It's slow and rather tedious to use, but still serviceable when you really need it.

Camera and music
The Gravity Q's camera hardly qualifies as a sharp shooter, but with a 2-megapixel resolution you shouldn't be expecting much in the first place. You won't find a flash or any useful way to take self-portraits, but the camera comes with a few editing features like several shot modes (like panoramic and continuous), exposure metering, a self-timer, and a night mode.

There was a lot of image noise in our standard studio shot. Kent German/CNET

The handset comes with 128MB of RAM, though the preset ringtones and photos take up a chunk of the space from the start (sadly, you can't delete them). As I mentioned, you can buy a microSD card for more space and you can organize all of your content with the handy file manager. Photo quality wasn't stellar, as you would imagine, but not terrible for a 2-megapixel camera. That means that it's fine if you have no other camera around, but don't rely on it to capture any scene that's important. Of course, I doubt you're buying the Gravity Q for its camera anyway.

In this action shot, the camera captured the white Ping-Pong ball, even if it is blurry. Kent German/CNET

The camera also records video, but it bumps down the resolution to 320x244 pixels. Editing options are about the same as the still camera, minus the various shooting modes. Videos meant for multimedia messages are capped at 1 minute, 20 seconds. If you're not filming for a message, your video length will be limited by the available memory.

This outdoor shot is better, though it's rather dark. Kent German/CNET

The music player is an unexpected bonus, but don't get your hopes up for anything fancy. Sure, you can play music, but that's all you can do besides building a playlist. Quality through the external speaker is pretty painful, though headphones help a lot. You don't get any in the box with the phone, but you can use any set with a 3.5mm jack. A memory card is the easiest way to load music on the phone as the only clips you can download via the Gravity Q's Web browser are ringtones.

Colors are washed out in this shot and there's some noise on the building on the right, but it's not terrible. Kent German/CNET

Call quality and data speeds
I tested the quad-band GSM Gravity Q in San Francisco using T-Mobile service. Call quality was dependable most of the time. When calling a landline from a quiet place with good reception, I didn't come across any significant issues. Voices sounded a tad shriller than they should, but that's being really picky. I had more trouble hearing if I called from a noisy place (like out on a city street) as the handset's median volume level is rather soft. Cranking up the volume helped, but the audio became more distorted the louder I went.

I had more-mixed results when calling another cell phone. I could hear most of the time, but I had to ask a friend to repeat herself occasionally when we were both talking outside. On her end, she said she could hear me well, except when a heavy truck was going by behind me. On the other hand, I didn't have any problems using an automated calling system. Unfortunately, the speakerphone performed poorly. The sound on my end became really jumbled the louder I went -- to the point of being indecipherable. It was better if I tuned the volume way down, but then it was difficult to hear unless I was alone in a silent room. What's more, I had to repeat myself a few times when talking. The Gravity Q is compatible with T3 and M3 hearing aids. According to FCC radiation tests, it has a digital SAR of 1.24 watts per kilogram.

Samsung Gravity Q call quality sample Listen now:

As I mentioned, the Gravity Q is a 3G device with data speeds that top out at UMTS. In a quickly expanding 4G universe, it will be far behind the pack in data performance. But as a 3G device, its speeds are respectable. For example, the mobile CNET site loaded in about 1 minute and the mobile New York Times site did better at 40 seconds. The Gravity Q will default to a mobile page, which is best. Given the small display and variable touch interface, there's no need to even bother loading the full version of site.

The Gravity Q's battery is rated for 5 hours of talk time and 20 days of standby time. Other promised times are as follows: 28 hours of music, 9 hours of video, and 6.5 hours of Internet use. During our battery train test for talk time, it lasted 6.82 hours. Internal performance is fluid and speedy when switching between applications (you can't expect too much from a 416MHz processor). Booting the phone from a cold start takes 26 seconds and it takes just 2 seconds to open the camera.

Conclusion
If you want a keyboard phone from T-Mobile, you don't have a ton of choices. On the smartphone side, you have the BlackBerry Q10 and T-Mobile MyTouch Q. Both deliver more oomph than the Gravity Q, but each has its downside. The Q10, for instance, has a small display and a disappointing camera, and even the new BlackBerry 10 OS won't be for everybody. The MyTouch Q runs Android and it has LTE, but it's one of our least favorite Android handsets of T-Mobile's bunch. And as I said, though the Gravity Smart also has Android and is cheaper, it's more than 2 years old.

That leaves the Gravity Q and the Gravity TXT. Both deliver simplicity and basic reliability for less than you'd pay for a smartphone. But if you've narrowed your selection down to these two siblings, definitely choose the Gravity Q. It's newer and its better keyboard gives it the edge.

What you'll pay

Pricing is currently unavailable.

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Where to Buy

Samsung Gravity Q (T-Mobile)

Part Number: SGH-T289MNATMB Released: Jul 2, 2013

MSRP: $153.99

See manufacturer website for availability.

Quick Specifications See All

  • Release date Jul 2, 2013
  • Technology WCDMA (UMTS) / GSM
  • Service Provider T-Mobile
  • Weight 4.19 oz
  • Diagonal Size 3 in
  • Sensor Resolution 2 pixels
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