Although you can download all the apps your heart desires from the Android Market, there are some essentials preinstalled: a calculator, a calendar, a clock, files, a memo pad, and a task manager. There's a voice recorder and voice search as well. As we mentioned earlier, Swype is the phone's default keyboard input, though you can always change this back to the Samsung standard.
In addition there are all the apps that Samsung and T-Mobile have loaded onto the phone, including AIM, AllShare (DLNA syncing), shortcuts to online app stores, and games like Tetris, Uno, and Bejeweled 2. There are also some useful utilities, like Lookout mobile security, Photobucket, visual voice mail, and Wi-Fi calling. DriveSmart is an app that will route your incoming calls and texts through Bluetooth while the car is in motion (apps of this type use the accelerometer to measure speed), or to voice mail. It will also send a text reply telling your friends why you're not picking up the phone or responding to texts just yet.
We have our old complaints about the basic-but-functional stock music player. It will work with a microSD card filled with songs, and has all the usual support for album art, playlists, and shuffling. Extra effects, though, are few and far between, but at least Samsung's TouchWiz interface makes the module a bit flashier than standard, skinless Android.
Onboard cameras are much more variable, and the Gravity Smart's 3-megapixel camera is hit or miss. The outdoor shots were mostly spot-on in terms of focus, lighting, and color, especially if they were in direct sunlight. Colors looked anemic in one outdoor shot taken in shadow. Inside, pictures bathed with natural or indirect sunlight were much better, while photos taken in artificial light bled the color or tended to lose focus. Although there's a flash, photos taken indoors at night were disappointing. In one photo, the color green stands out while the three subjects look almost black and white.
Video is predictably similar, with better color fidelity outdoors and more washed-out images indoors. As far as audio goes, although we sounded fine as the narrator indoors and outdoors, subjects were very difficult to hear. Indoor videos struggled to focus, and videos didn't play back as smoothly as we've seen with other devices.
We tested the quad-band (GSM 850/900/1800/1900; UMTS 1700/2100) Samsung Gravity Smart in San Francisco using T-Mobile's network. Call quality was acceptable in our tests. Volume sounded a little low on our end, even at full max. Although the line itself sounded clear, without distortions or breaks, voices weren't crystal clear.
For their part, callers said we sounded sufficiently loud and intelligible, but echoey and slightly distorted. The audio quality didn't detract enough from the call to distract from conversation, but it was enough to note the imperfections.
Samsung Gravity Smart call quality sample
On the other hand, the Gravity Smart's speakerphone volume was strong on our end, stronger than the regular call, and predictably tinny--hardly a surprise with the external speaker spraying audio to the phone's rear, the exact opposite direction of your face. Speakerphone calls also sounded OK to our listeners, who told us that volume and fidelity were good, with no off qualities. However, a characteristic room echo accompanied speakerphone.
T-Mobile's 3G connection was speedy in our tests, taking 15 seconds to load CNET's mobile-optimized site, and about 30 seconds to load the graphically rich full CNET.com. Of course, speeds will vary based on network strength where you are, which is influenced by everything from time of day to the kind of building you might be in.
The Gravity Smart does just fine on its 800MHz processor; we didn't experience inordinate lag, although it won't be as zippy as a 1GHz processor.
The Gravity Smart has a rated battery life of 5.5 hours of talk time and up to 15 days of standby time on its 1,500mAh lithium ion battery. We're continuing to test the battery life internally, and will report our in-house findings here. According to FCC tests, the Gravity Smart has a digital SAR of 0.47 watt per kilogram.
Samsung made the right decision moving the Samsung Gravity line to Android. Although there's a place for feature phones, affordable Android devices are in high demand, and the Gravity Smart, with its $29.99 price tag after some online rebates, fits the bill. (The retail price is a much higher, much lower value $69.99 after a mail-in rebate.) There are some nice touches, like the brushed metal look on the keyboard and the soft-touch chassis, but the more downmarket specs keep the phone affordable. Although the screen is a bit small, the camera could be better, and the keyboard spacing could be improved, we had few serious complaints about the Gravity's features and operation. Those looking for a stylish messaging phone would do well to check this one out.