While a lot of phones have integrated music players, few handsets qualify as bonafide MP3 phones. Not only do they have much better audio quality than most, but also they usually boast a few features that focus specifically on enhancing the music experience. The latest Samsung Trance, for example, had its sound technology developed by Bang & Olufsen, a high-end audio equipment brand, which results in an array of equalizer modes and 3D sound effects. The result is simply fantastic audio quality; definitely one of the better MP3 phones we've tried. We're not too pleased with the lack of EV-DO and that you can't download music over-the-air from Verizon Wireless' V Cast. Still, the Trance is a very stylish handset with great performance, and for that we think the $49.99 price, with a two-year service agreement, is very reasonable.
The Samsung Trance is an undeniably stylish handset, with an elegant design that any fashionista would love. Measuring 4 inches long by 1.97 inches wide by 0.55 inch thick, the Trance has a slim profile, rounded corners, and a beautiful glossy finish. The front of the Trance is ever so slightly curved in the shape of a violin, which adds to the visual appeal. The front surface is also very reflective, which makes it fingerprint prone and a little hard to read the display under bright sunlight. The Trance is lightweight at only 3.53 ounces.
On the front of the Trance is the 2.1-inch screen with support for 262,000 TFT color and 176x229-pixel resolution. The display is gorgeous, with bold colors and a resolution that show off the drop-shadow effect on the icons. You can adjust the backlight time for the screen and the keypad, the display themes, the style and size of the dial and menu fonts, the clock format on the standby page, and the menu layout. You can even replace and reposition menu items.
Underneath the display is the touch-sensitive navigation array. When idle, the entire array appears black and empty. When the phone is active, the array lights up with the two soft keys, the four-way toggle with middle OK key, a dedicated music player key, and the Cancel key. The music player key activates the music player of course, but when the music player is already active, it brings up the song playlist. The four-way toggle corresponds to three user-defined shortcuts for the up, left, and down directions, and the right direction leads to a My Shortcuts dialog box. The My Shortcuts box can also be customized with up to four of your favorite shortcuts.
The navigation array is completely flat with the surface, and you have to rely on the keys vibration feedback to get a feel for them. You can adjust the touch vibration settings and the sensitivity level. When the phone is closed, you won't be able to use the array until you unlock it with the hold/keypad lock key on the side. While we understand this touchpad provides a very sleek look to the Trance, we still would prefer physical keys for easier navigation.
Slide the phone up and you'll reveal the number keypad with the Send, camera key, and Talk/End power keys on the top row. The overall keypad is quite flat to the surface, but there are little row dividers that help provide some texture when dialing and texting. But we would prefer a more tactile keypad.
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.