Basic features include a vibrate mode, a speakerphone, a calendar, a calculator, an alarm clock, a stop watch, a world clock, a notepad, a sketchpad, and a timer. There's also voice command, USB mass storage mode, a file viewer that lets you read Microsoft Office documents, GPS with VZ Navigator support, and stereo Bluetooth.
The Reality comes with a slew of messaging features. Of course, there's the usual text and multimedia messaging (with threaded conversations), but you also get voice messaging and instant messaging (AIM, Windows Live, and Yahoo). As for e-mail, there are three options: mobile e-mail, which is a downloadable application that lets you get e-mail directly to your phone; corporate email, which lets you get your work e-mail and calendar via RemoSync; and mobile Web e-mail that simply gives you quick access to Web mail services like Yahoo Mail and Gmail. There's also visual voice mail, but that costs $3 a month. The mobile e-mail app is $5 and the corporate e-mail option requires a $9.99 a month subscription.
We're happy to see an HTML browser on the Reality, as well. It looks and feels a lot like the mobile browsers we've seen on other Samsung phones. You can scroll around easily, and you can zoom in and out of Web pages by sliding your finger up and down the screen. Other features include full page view, search, and a copy and send feature so you can e-mail yourself Web site links. There's also a RSS setting that you can customize with your own newsfeeds.
Even though the Reality supports EV-DO Rev. 0 and not EV-DO Rev. A, it still has access to Verizon's 3G services like V Cast Videos for your streaming video needs, plus V Cast Music with Rhapsody, which lets you purchase and download songs over the air for $1.99 each. If you don't want to buy your music, you can also upload your own tunes, as long as they're in the MP3, WMA, or unprotected AAC and AAC+ formats.
The music player has a simple but pleasant interface. It has all the usual player controls as well as options for repeat or shuffle. You can create and edit playlists on the fly and you can choose one of nine preset equalizer settings to boost the audio quality. There's a music-only mode so you can shut off the phone's wireless signal, which is good for when you're on an airplane or need to conserve battery life. You can also send the music player to the background while you fiddle around with other parts of the phone. The Reality accepts up to 16GB microSD cards for more storage.
The Reality's 3.2-megapixel camera can take pictures in eight different resolutions, from 2,048x1536 pixels all the way to 320x240 pixels. Other settings include three quality settings, autoshot mode, a self-timer, a night shot mode, five color effects, five white balance presets, five shooting modes, adjustable ISO, three metering options, and different options for brightness, contrast, saturation, and sharpness. You even get to choose different Ready and Shutter Sounds (there are silent options for both). Photo quality was good, but not as great as we expected. Images had a slight yellowish tinge to them, though they looked sharp enough for the most part. As for the camcorder, you can record in 176x144-pixel resolution for MMS mode, and in either 320x240- or 640x480-pixel resolutions for "save" mode. Other camcorder settings are similar to that of the still camera.
You can personalize the Reality with several different graphics and sounds for wallpaper and ringtones, including different wallpapers for each of the three home screens. The Reality comes with four games: Dice, Oregon Trail, Pac-Man, and Tetris. You can get more via the Verizon online store.
We tested the Samsung Reality in San Francisco using Verizon Wireless. Call quality was excellent. We heard our callers loud and clear without a hint of static. Their voices sounded natural, almost as if they were next to us.
Callers reported similar results. They said the audio quality was comparable to that of a landline, even when we were talking to them from the car. Speakerphone calls fared well, too; callers did say they heard an echo effect, but it was just fine otherwise.
As for listening to music, the audio quality was quite good. The speakers themselves offered a tinny and hollow listening experience, but the quality through a headset was very good. We appreciate that the Reality has a 3.5mm headset jack so we could use our own headphones.
Even though the Reality has EV-DO Rev. 0 instead of EV-DO Rev. A, it offered respectable speeds. We downloaded a 1.09MB song in just 27 seconds, for example. Streaming video did suffer a few seconds of buffering, but it wasn't too bad.
The Samsung Reality has a rated battery life of 5 hours talk time and 12.5 days. According to our tests, the Reality has a talk time of 4 hours and 46 minutes. According to the FCC, it has a digital SAR of 0.99 watts per kilogram.