Samsung Repp - red (U.S. Cellular) review:

Samsung Repp - red (U.S. Cellular)

Outdoor photos were pretty good with the Repp's 3.2-megapixel if you shoot them in broad daylight.

The Repp has a 3.2-megapixel camera, which is about the best you can expect for a phone that's only costing you a two-year oath of loyalty to the carrier. There's no autofocus and no flash, and so long as the subject is awash in light, the photos are actually pretty good. Colors aren't as intense or as true, and there's some loss of detail when you blow up the image on a computer screen, but to upload to a Web site, send to friends, or add as a contact image, a top-flight lens is overkill anyway.

That said, I do need to point out some of the camera's limitations. Since there's no autofocus, you need to keep still while taking the shot. Shutter lag wasn't terribly slow, but the software itself takes a moment to process. Both an overabundance of natural and artificial lights confused the sensors, making those very well-lit indoor and outdoor photos flatter, duller, and lower in contrast. In other indoor shots, colors were pretty accurate and not too over- or undersaturated. Strangely, the camera gave an odd glow to one photo I snapped indoors of a coworker's plastic and metal toy structure.

The Repp flattened Kara's features and overexposed her surroundings in this abundantly lit indoor shot.

Video is also workable, though nothing extraordinary. Recorded voices had a harsh buzzy quality, and video capture wasn't exactly smooth. Still, it'll work in a pinch. The Repp takes up to 32GB of expandable memory and has a 2GB microSD card preloaded.

I tested the dual-band (CDMA 800/1900) Samsung Repp in San Francisco using U.S. Cellular's roaming network. Call quality was clear and strong, when there was no digital distortion. Unfortunately, that occurred often in my test calls, and sounded like the audio was bubbling and bursting. Sometimes it also sounded like voices cut in and out a bit. There were no complaints with volume, though, a big plus. On their end, friends agreed about volume and reported a little distortion. They said my voice sounded unnatural, but acceptable.

Samsung Repp call quality sample Listen now:

Your search for a great speakerphone will not end here. Volume was low, even cranked up to max, and even with a little background noise in my office, I had trouble hearing callers on the other end. Although the distortion ended, the handset buzzed whenever the caller spoke. In its favor, callers sounded natural and had a rich voice quality that speakerphone almost always lacks. On their end, callers reported volume too low to be actually usable, and often asked me to repeat myself. With that issue solved, quality would be otherwise good.

The internal speed and data speeds were like the rest of the phone: fair. With an 800MHz processor, the Repp chugged along, just taking a moment or two here and there to process more-complex tasks. The 3G speeds lumbered along in my tests, but weren't so slow I wanted to pull out my hair--mostly. It took over a minute to load CNET's mobile-optimized site (more than once), but less than that to load CNET's full site. The New York Times' mobile site appeared in just over 15 seconds, with the full site mostly filling in at under 30 seconds. I also snapped open to check out the diagnostic report. Results came in at between 0.1 and 0.3Mbps down, not very impressive, but also not wholly unexpected.

The Repp has a rated battery life of up to 8 hours on its 1,500mAh lithium ion battery, and up to 12.5 days of standby time. According to FCC radiation tests, the handset also has a digital SAR of 0.98 watt per kilogram.

Whether you consider the Samsung Repp boils down to a couple of conditions: if you aren't fussed by its small size, its more simple outlook, or the lower-capacity everything, it's probably the right on-contract price. Android keeps it up-to-date, but I wouldn't be surprised if Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich is late to the Repp, or even passes it by (nothing has been announced yet). If it's a higher-performing phone you're after, keep looking. The Samsung Mesmerize is far more powerful, upgradable to Android 2.3 (it's Froyo right out-of-the-box), and at the time of this review, it was also being offered for free, after meeting some activation requirements.

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