As with most Android phones, you can merge contact information from various accounts, such as Outlook and Gmail. There are also settings to support VPN. We had no trouble syncing e-mail when signing on to our Google account on the Transform, although calendar syncing was unsuccessful during setup.
The app tray is relatively sparse when you first log in, in part because Sprint's vision is that loading Sprint ID profiles will also automatically install many of the apps you "need." There are the usual Android suspects, like the Gmail app we mentioned, Google's Latitude friend-finding and location service, a music app, Google's free turn-by-turn navigation, a voice dialer, Google Places, Google Talk, and YouTube. Sprint's extras include a Nascar app, Sprint TV, and Sprint Football Live. As always, you can download free and premium apps in the Android Market.
On the communications front, the Transform has all the tools you'll need to text, chat, and e-mail. As with other Android phones in Samsung's lineup, the Transform plays nicely with Gmail, POP3, IMAP, and Exchange accounts. Although there is a dedicated Gmail app, the e-mail app can optionally combine the e-mail from multiple accounts into a single in-box, or you can choose to view accounts separately. We prefer the latter, personally, but only because we found individual in-boxes easier to sort through.
Sprint has modified the stock WebKit-based browser with a branded version of SprintWeb that loads with a Sprint page by default. You can change your home page in the settings. Browser features include the usual traits of multiple tabs, bookmark support, history, and the ability to save an image. As long as Wi-Fi and data was strong, browsing was painless.
The Transform's music player comes empty, so you'll need to fill it up with music yourself. Two ways are by transferring tunes over USB or through an SD card. A music store, Sprint Music Plus, is meant to be installed on the Transform, although the app was absent in our review unit. The music player is standard fare for its type, with four tabs for organizing albums, artists, song titles, and playlists. In addition to shuffle there is party shuffle, which takes a stab at automixing. There's also support for album art where available; repeat; and turning a song into a ringtone. We can't complain about the Transform's audio quality, but smartphone music playback generally sounds better using headphones.
Camera shots and videos were equally easy to manage on the Transform, with a slider button for toggling between the modes and an onscreen button to control the shutter. At 3.2 megapixels, the quality is decidedly midrange. The photos aren't bad, but they do lack the sharpness, detail, and richness of a 5-megapixel shooter. Slide-out settings on the screen let you swap between front and rear cameras, flash mode, 13 scene modes, five white-balance presets, six color effects, and three metering effects. You get your choice of four pixel sizes, three variations of photo quality, and three focus modes.
In video mode, you can shoot with the standard resolution (352x288 pixels) or with a weaker resolution (176x144 pixels) that's optimized for multimedia messages. You're able to set the video duration for 30 seconds (the default for multimedia messaging), 10 minutes, or 30 minutes. The camcorder shares the camera's flash, color effects, and white-balance presets. Photo-editing tools can rotate and crop the image, and you can save or share the photo through the usual e-mail and social media channels.
We tested the dual-band (CDMA 850/1900 EV-DO Rev. A) Samsung Transform in San Francisco using the Sprint network. Call quality was impressive, with clear audio on our side, and no breaks, echoes, or distortions during our test calls. Voices sounded clear and rich. On their end, callers also commended the sound call quality and didn't note any problems hearing us.
Speakerphone quality surprised us on this handset. The placement of the speaker on the back of the phone always makes for a distant, slightly echoey, and hollow aural experience on our end. What we didn't expect was for our friends to think we still had the phone at our ear. Volume was loud and clear for both parties, though less so for us with the phone set to speaker.
We got Sprint's EV-DO 3G service throughout San Francisco, with Web sites loading quickly on the browser. The mobile version of CNET.com loaded in about 10 seconds over data, for instance. YouTube videos generally loaded in 5 or 6 seconds. The Transform's 800MHz processor was fairly speedy, though we did run into lag time when loading the Sprint IDs, and, until we rebooted, experienced dramatically slower performance after installing one particular ID.
The Samsung has a rated talk time of 6 hours and up to 14.6 days of standby time. In our day-to-day tests, battery life was a little weak, with the phone dropping to less than 50 percent the same day after a full charge. Our tests revealed that the talk time was 4 hours and 4 minutes. According to FCC radiation tests, the Transform has a digital SAR rating of 0.75 watt per kilogram.