The Samsung SGH-T609 has a 1.3-megapixel camera that takes pictures in six resolutions: 1,280x1024, 1,152x864, 600x640, 640x480, 320x240, and 176x144. Other functions include four shutter sounds but no silent option; a 4X zoom; multishot and mosaic-shot options; five color effects; 24 fun frames; a 3-, 5-, or 10-second self-timer; and a brightness control. There are also a number of camera shortcuts and sounds, and you can play with a photo's orientation as well. The camcorder records clips in two resolutions (176x144 and 128x96) with sound. Editing options are similar to a still camera's, and clip length is capped at 45 seconds for multimedia messages. You can save as many pictures and videos that will fit on the phone's 25MB of shared memory, or you can store your work on a memory card. Photos were decent but not spectacular by any means. Although most colors were distinct, some objects were fuzzy. Videos, however, were quite grainy, and the sound was barely audible.
The MP3 player is similar to the minimalist but functional version found on the Samsung SGH-T809. The primary user interaction is done through the toggle, with a few other keys acting as shortcuts to different functions. The interface is pretty spartan; there's no album art, and only the track name scrolls across the top of the display. You can choose from a couple of animated graphics for when music is playing, but they're not anything special. That said, the player comes with a number of functions, including playlists and repeat and shuffle modes, and you can set music tracks as ring tones. We were pleased to see that getting music on the phone was pretty easy. In addition to transferring tracks from a memory card, you can send them via Bluetooth or download them from the wireless Web browser.
You can personalize the Samsung SGH-T609 with a variety of wallpaper and sounds, though the choice of included wallpaper is pretty limited. If you want more options or ring tones, you'll have to download them from T-Mobile via the WAP 2.0 wireless Web browser. Gaming options were plentiful, however. You get five Java (J2ME) titles--Bobby Carrot, AirShip Racing, Arch Angel, Freekick, and Midnight Pool--with the option to buy more.
We tested the quad-band (GSM 850/900/1800/1900) world phone in San Francisco using T-Mobile's service. Call quality was mostly good, but the volume was somewhat low. The Samsung SGH-T609 also has a sensitive sweet spot, so users with hearing impairments should try it out before buying. On the upside, audio quality was satisfactory, and we encountered little static or interference. Callers said we sounded hollow at times, but they could understand us fine overall.
Speakerphone calls were about the same on our end, and callers reported the same. We successfully paired the Samsung SGH-T609 with the Plantronics Explorer 320 Bluetooth headset and enjoyed decent call quality, despite a bit of static on our end. Music quality was mostly bad overall. Songs were bass heavy, and the phone's tiny speakers didn't do our tracks justice at all.
The Samsung SGH-T609 has a rated talk time of 3 hours and a promised standby time of six days; our tests also showed a talk time of 3 hours. According to FCC radiation tests, the Samsung SGH-T609 has a digital SAR rating of 0.59 watt per kilogram.