On the left side of the Trance are the volume rocker, the hold/keypad lock key, and the microSD card slot, and the charger jack, the speakerphone key, and a 3.5 millimeter headset jack. We're definitely happy to see a 3.5 millimeter headset jack here, especially since the Trance touts itself as a music phone. The camera is only revealed when you slide the phone up--it's on the back, next to a self-portrait mirror.
The Samsung Trance has a 1,000-entry phone book with room in each entry for five numbers, two e-mail addresses, an IM screen name, a street address, and notes. You can save callers to groups, pair them with a photo for caller ID, or with one of 17 polyphonic ringtones for added customization. Basic features include a vibrate mode, a speakerphone, text and multimedia messaging, a calculator, an alarm clock, a calendar, a stop watch, a world clock, and a notepad. You also get voice command support, a wireless Web browser, mobile Web e-mail, USB mass storage mode, and location-based support for VZ Navigator and Verizon's Chaperone service. Since it's a music phone, we're also pleased to see the Trance has stereo Bluetooth, plus a Music Sharing capability that lets you connect up to two stereo Bluetooth devices simultaneously.
As we said, the primary feature of the Trance is definitely the music player. The interface is simple and easy to use, with the album art in the center and the player controls underneath. You can view the music library, create and edit playlists, and set the songs on shuffle or repeat. Not only are there 11 preset equalizer settings, but there's also a manual equalizer. The music player also has 3D sound, which you can only experience when a headset is plugged in. From there, you can choose Wide, Dynamic, or Surround sound. If you're in an airplane, you can opt for Music Only mode, which shuts off the phone's wireless signal and still lets you listen to your tunes.
Perhaps the most disappointing part of the music player is that the Trance does not have EV-DO. This means it doesn't have access to Verizon's broadband services like V Cast Music, so you can't download songs over-the-air. You can get music on to the phone via the V Cast Music with Rhapsody application, but only by attaching a USB cable to your PC. Thankfully, the Trance has a whopping 1GB of internal memory, plus you can get up to a 16GB microSD card for more storage.
The Trance also comes with a 1.3-megapixel camera, but it's nothing much to write home about. Photo quality is mediocre at best, with a lot of blurry images and muted colors. You can take pictures in six resolutions (1,280x960, 1,024x768, 640x480, 320x240, 160x120, 128x96), three quality settings, six color effects, and five white-balance presets. Other camera settings include spot or center metering, a night shot mode, a self-timer, a multishot mode, sound effects like the "ready sound" and the shutter sound (with silent options), brightness, and zoom.
You can personalize the Trance with a variety of wallpaper and sounds plus you can get more graphics and tones from the WAP 2.0 wireless Web browser. The Trance doesn't come with any games but you can download BREW-enabled titles from Verizon as well.
We tested the Samsung Trance in San Francisco using Verizon Wireless. We were very impressed with the call quality. Callers said we sounded loud and clear with very little hiss in the background. The voice quality was a tad machine-like but it was still very listenable. On our end, we heard them very clearly as well, with hardly any static at all. Call quality was similarly good on speakerphone mode, though callers sounded a bit hollower on the speakers.
But the real star of the show here is the audio quality. Thanks to the Bang & Olufsen ICEPower technology, we were very impressed with the strong melody and bass in the songs. This was especially apparent when we turned on the Surround Sound mode. Overall, the audio sounded nice and full, and compares well with most dedicated MP3 players.
The Samsung Trace has a rated battery life life of 4.5 hours of talk time and 12.5 days in standby time. It has a tested talk time of 3 hours and 55 minutes. According to the FCC, it has a SAR rating of 1.34 watts per kilogram.