MetroPCS's bundled add-ons provide more functionality, with apps that handle Web e-mail and mobile instant messaging, contact backup, and voice commands. There's also MetroNavigator for directions, and the Loopt social network. The apps can be quite rudimentary, but at least they're available.
The VGA camera is quite low-quality--many budget phones include a 1.3-megapixel camera these days. It takes photos in three resolutions ranging from 640x480 pixels down to 128x96 pixels. There are four shooting modes, five white-balance settings, six color effects, a night mode, a self-timer, and three choices for image quality. If you snap the Contour closed without turning off the camera, you can use the external display for self-portraits.
When you're done taking a picture, you can opt to share it through a picture message or Bluetooth. There are also options to set it as a wallpaper or photo ID, or to rename or even erase the image. Internal storage is a small 55MB, and there's no expansion slot on the uber-entry-level Contour. The phone produced blurry and dull photos that were full of digital noise.
Thanks to the MetroWeb app, you can access the Internet. It's a simple WAP browser with a Google search bar, bookmarks, and a history function. It was slow with the phone's processor and 2.5G speeds. For example, it took over 20 seconds to fully load CNET's mobile-optimized site, but photos are so sketchy, you'd be better off if the browser skipped them entirely.
We tested the dual-band (CDMA 800/1900) Samsung Contour in San Francisco using the MetroPCS network. Although the phone is technically 3G-capable, MetroPCS only offers limited EV-DO coverage in the Dallas/Fort Worth and Detroit markets. Call quality wasn't bad overall, although voices sounded a little muffled and volume was a tad low. Volume was in the medium range, and fine for our conversations. Our callers reported OK clarity in some calls and some fuzziness in other calls, with some white background noise, but we had uninterrupted conversation.
Speakerphone volume was very loud on our end, with distortion at the highest levels for both us and the callers. Our friends on the other end of the line thought we sounded a bit distant.
Samsung Contour call quality sample
The Samsung Contour has a rated battery life of 3.3 hours of talk time and a standby time of 8.3 days. In our battery drain tests, it has a talk time of 3 hours and 27 minutes. According to FCC tests, the Contour has a digital SAR of 0.49 watt per kilogram.