The Samsung SGH-t409 is a decent midrange phone with a simple set of features that will please most people. It has a 1,000-contact phone book with room in each entry for five phone numbers, an e-mail address, and notes (The SIM card holds as many as 250 additional contacts). Each contact can be saved to groups, paired with any of 15 polyphonic ringtones, plus a photo for caller ID (Although, do remember that the photos won't show up on the external display). You can also select up to five entries to be your MyFaves contacts, which should be the contacts you call most often. Some basic features include a vibrate mode, a speakerphone, text and multimedia messaging, e-mail, an alarm clock, a calendar, a task list, a calculator, a tip calculator, world time, unit conversion, a timer, and a stopwatch. On the higher end, there's Bluetooth, instant messaging (with support for Windows Live, AIM, ICQ, and Yahoo), a wireless Web browser courtesy of T-Mobile's t-Zones Web portal, and the ability to sync your contacts with the T-Mobile Web site so you can recover them in case your phone gets lost or broken.
Arguably the most important feature on the SGH-t409 is its support of the HotSpot @Home service. The SGH-t409 has built-in Wi-Fi, and the HotSpot @Home service lets you use that to connect to any wireless network to make, answer, and receive calls. Calls made within the wireless network will not be deducted from your plan's minutes, which allows you to get unlimited calls and save money at the same time. And when you set up a wireless @Home router in your home, you're almost guaranteed better reception than that from regular cellular airwaves. You can read more about our experiences with the HotSpot @Home service in our review.
The SGH-t409 has an internal memory of 21MB and no external memory card slot, so it won't hold a lot of images. Since it comes with a 1.3-megapixel camera, you might want to empty out your storage every once in awhile. The camera has quite a few settings, which include up to seven resolutions (1,280x1,024; 1,024x768; 800x600; 640x480; 320x240; 160x120; and 128x96), white-balance controls, a night-mode setting, a self-timer, brightness, and six color effects. You can also assign keys on the keypad to be camera shortcuts to brightness settings and so forth. Photo quality was rather disappointing. Pictures appeared washed out and hazy.
You can personalize your SGH-t409 with a variety of wallpaper and alert sounds included with the phone, and you also have the option to buy and download more with T-Mobile's T-Zones store. There are also a few games included with the phone, like demo versions of Forgotten Warrior, Freekick, Arch Angel, Lumines Block Challenge, and Midnight Pool.
We tested the triband (GSM 850/900/1900) Samsung SGH-t409 in San Francisco using the T-Mobile service and with a variety of wireless networks, thanks to the T-Mobile HotSpot @Home service. No matter what service we used, call quality was the same--there was some noisy interference, and voices sounded a little flat. We could still hear our callers loud and clear, so that wasn't a deal breaker. As you can read in our review of the HotSpot @Home service, the signal strength does improve remarkably when within a preconfigured wireless network, so we do think the t409's Wi-Fi compatibility is a great feature despite the average call quality. Speakerphone calls weren't that impressive, with slightly muffled sounds from our end and echoed effects from their end. The speakerphone only really shines when both callers are in a quiet environment.
The SGH-t409 has a rated battery life of 5 hours of talk time, and a tested talk time of 5 hours and 11 minutes. It has a rated standby time of eight days. According to FCC radiation tests, the SGh-t409 has a digital SAR rating of 1.22 watts per kilogram.