The Samsung SGH-T309's VGA megacamera is easy to use, well designed, and feature rich, with four resolutions of 640x480, 320x240, 176x144, and 128x96. There are also photo quality settings of Super Fine, Fine, and Normal, and the camera features a 4X zoom; a self-timer that can be set for 3, 5, or 10 seconds; 30 fun frames; a brightness control; and 11 picture effects. We do wish Samsung had included a flash, although the night mode is decent. There is also a multishooting mode that allows you to take 6, 9, or 15 shots in rapid succession. Once a picture is taken, you can send it via phone or e-mail or to your online album, or you can set it as the wallpaper or a specific contact's caller ID. Photos are stored in the phone's 10MB of shared memory. The menus are a little confusing, with all the different T-zones options available. We never did figure out whether the pictures and videos had saved to the phone or our T-zones folder. Photo quality is what you'd expect from a VGA camera; objects were fuzzy, and colors were washed out.
The Samsung SGH-T309 also captures video at a resolution of 176x144 pixels and has exceptional sound quality. The video capture is decent but not for use in low light or evening settings; in our experience, it recorded for only about 13 seconds.
Java (J2ME) games are preloaded on the Samsung SGH-T309, including Forgotten Warrior, Freekick, and Arch Angel, but you can download more through the T-zones service. Due to the small navigation and keypad keys, however, the games are difficult to play on this handset. The personalization options are limited on the SGH-T309, but you can personalize the wallpaper, use your own pictures, or download from numerous options on the T-zones service. Other personalization options include four skin patterns, three languages, and a greeting, as well as several different time and date format settings.We tested the triband (GSM 850/1800/1900) Samsung SGH-T309 in Denver and San Francisco. It received excellent reception on the T-Mobile network in both locations. Sound quality was very good indoors and outdoors, and we did not experience dropped calls or have any reception issues. Callers could hear a fair amount of background noise and did know we were on a cell phone, although everyone noted the excellent sound quality. The handset did not cause interference with the radio or the computer speakers. The phone does get hot, however, when charged for 4 or more hours.
The Samsung SGH-T309 has a rated talk time of just 3.3 hours; we got 4.25 hours in our tests. Standby battery life was unimpressive, with a mediocre time of only three days, well short of the promised nine days. According to FCC radiation tests, the SGH-T309 has a digital SAR rating of 1.18 watts per kilogram.