Android 2.2 Froyo may not be the most recent Android OS on the market, but it's just fine for an entry-level smartphone like the Replenish. As with other Android Froyo phones, the Replenish supports Bluetooth, GPS, Wi-Fi, and an integrated e-mail and message inbox for multiple POP, IMAP, and Exchange accounts and Twitter and Facebook. The Replenish also has Google Maps with turn-by-turn voice navigation, the Android Market storefront, the standard music player, YouTube, Google Places, and Google Talk for chatting. There are typical organizer apps like a clock, calculator, and calendar. Other preloaded apps include LogMeIn Rescue, ThinkFree Office, and Sprint Zone.
Even though Froyo supports Adobe Flash Player, we couldn't play Flash video or Flash games in the browser--as with the equally beginner LG Optimus line, the Replenish's hardware just doesn't pass muster. We could still play Flash video, but only through YouTube and third-party apps.
Although USB tethering is an option, the general Froyo setting that would turn the Replenish into a hot spot is missing from the Wireless settings. Instead, there's Sprint's Hotspot mobile app, which is easy to kick-start to support up to five devices. It costs $29.99 per month, a typical price for hot-spot capabilities across network operators.
In terms of producing clear images, the 2-megapixel camera was pretty impressive for a shooter of this type. Photos still looked clear when expanded on the computer screen to their full size. Colors weren't as vibrant in photos taken indoors, however, and we did notice that objects took on a blue or brown cast. For editing, there are typical tools and presets for color balance, night mode, self-timing, and so on. The same goes for video, with the typical choices to shoot in high-quality (up to 30 minutes) or lower-quality modes (up to 30 seconds for multimedia messages). The Replenish has 512MB internal memory and holds up to 32GB external storage.
We tested the dual-band (CDMA 800/1900) smartphone in San Francisco on Sprint's network. Call quality was acceptable on our end, but could be better. While the calls themselves were mostly clear, we did hear intermittent distortion and crackling; once we even heard our own echo. Our callers' voices sounded fine as for volume and fidelity, but a little gauzy. Our callers enjoyed a clearer experience. Volume was nice and loud, they told us, and the calls remained very clear, without any background noise. If they concentrated, they could hear the slightest distortion on the high frequencies.
Speakerphone was also decent overall. It was loud, with high volume on our end, but voices sounded predictably hollow and distant, with the same cloak of fuzziness we heard with the handset at our ear. Callers said they heard the normal amount of room echo with some spiking distortion on loud passages.
Samsung Replenish call quality sample
The Replenish is a 3G phone and we were able to maintain 3G data speeds with EV-DO Revision A throughout San Francisco. It took about 30 seconds to completely load CNET's mobile site over 3G and almost 2 minutes to completely load the full version of CNET's graphically rich Web site.
The smartphone's 600MHz processor is about right for the phone's market space, and although the phone isn't as speedy as some we've seen, the responsiveness is about what you'd expect. We didn't notice much unusual lag.
The Replenish has a rated battery life of up to 5.4 hours of continuous talk time and 9 days of standby time on its 1,600 mAh lithium ion battery. According to our tests, it has a talk time of 6 hours and 5 minutes. According to FCC radio frequency emission tests, the Replenish has a digital SAR of 0.3 watts per kilogram.
Samsung has done a nice job of creating an eco-phone that balances cost and convenience. The Replenish took surprisingly clear and sharp photos for a 2-megapixel camera, and most other features behaved as expected. Although the built-in QWERTY keyboard could feel cramped for larger fingers, we were still able to type efficiently. The lack of effective Flash support in the browser was our biggest disappointment on a smartphone that otherwise lives up to modest expectations. While we did have some complaints about call quality in our area, we were always able to communicate with family and friends without major problems, during both quiet indoor and noisy outdoor calls. The true test of an eco-phone is if we'd recommend it to folks who don't place a premium on using recycled materials. For just $50 after a rebate, the Replenish is a good value for those who are as concerned about their wallets as they are about Mother Earth, if not more so.