Samsung, we have a message for you: 2006 called and it wants its phone back. All right, maybe that's mean, but the fact remains that the Samsung SGH-T659 exhibits a design trend that was popular three years ago. And as features go, the SGH-T659 offers nothing that we haven't seen before. It's not a bad phone, and the 3G service is nice, though you're likely to confuse it with a gallery of Samsung handsets that came before it. But if you want it, you can find it at T-Mobile for $69 with service.
As we mentioned, there's nothing original about the T659's design. It's thin, it's silver, and it's a slider. It's hardly unattractive, but if you're looking for trendy and modern, you won't find it here. Of course, a slim profile does have its advantages. At 4.06 inches by 1.93 inches by 0.88 inch, the T659 fits easily into a pocket or bag. It's also relatively lightweight at 3.28 ounces. The slider mechanism is sturdy and the phone feels comfortable in the hand. The T659's 2.25-inch display is exactly what you'd expect. It supports 262,000 colors and an average resolution (320x240 pixels). Colors and graphics look fine and the menus are simple and easy to use. You can choose between a circle and grid design. The display is customizable--you can change the backlighting time, the brightness, and the font size, type, and color.
The T659 has a well-designed navigation array with a spacious layout. The circular toggle and central OK button are tactile and you can program the toggle to act as a shortcut to certain features. The remaining controls are flat, but they're not too slick. You'll find two soft keys, a clear button, and the Talk and End/power keys.
As on most slider phones, the keypad is flat. That wouldn't be a problem by itself, but the T659's keys are also slick. Dialing numbers was fine, but texting wasn't quite comfortable. On the upside, the numbers on the keys are relatively large and the backlighting is bright. The remaining exterior features include a tactile volume rocker and the microSD card slot on the left spine. Over on the right spine you'll find the camera shutter and the headset/charger jack. Unfortunately, the latter uses a proprietary connection and you can use only one peripheral at a time. The camera lens and self-portrait mirror are on the back of the slider. You must have the phone open to take a photo.
The T659 has a 1,000-entry phone book with room in each for four phone numbers, four e-mail addresses, three instant-messaging handles, a birthday and anniversary, a URL, a street address, and notes. You can save callers to groups and you can pair them with a photo and one of 21, 72-chord polyphonic ringtones. The SIM card holds an additional 250 contacts.
Basic features include a vibrate mode, text and multimedia messaging, a speakerphone, a voice recorder, a calendar, an alarm clock, a task list, a memo pad, a calculator, a world clock, a timer, a stopwatch, a unit and currency converter, and a tip calculator. Beyond the basics you'll find an RSS reader, full Bluetooth with a stereo profile, instant messaging, GPS with access to Telenav services, PC syncing, and USB mass storage. The T659 also offers POP3 e-mail, but it requires a clunky Web-based interface.
The 2-megapixel camera takes pictures in four resolutions, from 1,600x1,200 down to 320x240. The selection of editing options is sufficient for a phone like the T659. You'll find three quality settings, a night mode, adjustable brightness, three white balance settings, spot metering, three color tones, a self-timer, and three shutter sounds plus a silent option. The camcorder shoots clips with sound in a 176x144 resolution. Editing options are similar to the still camera if a bit less plentiful. Clips meant for multimedia messages are capped at 45 seconds, but you can shoot for longer in standard mode.