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Samsung Behold II (T-Mobile) review: Samsung Behold II (T-Mobile)

Review Sections

Phone and contacts
The Behold II's voice features include quad-band world roaming, a speakerphone, three-way calling, speed dial, voice dialing, and visual voice mail. Though T-Mobile is phasing out its MyFaves plan in favor of its new ">, you can still find the MyFaves interface on the phone and use it for quick access to your five favorite contacts.

Once again, Samsung has added its own touch to the address book. On an individual contact page, you will find a colorful tabbed interface that provides five categories of information: phone numbers; caller ID information (photo, ringtone, Web site); e-mail addresses and instant-messaging handles; birthdays and anniversary; and home and business addresses. The SIM card can hold an additional 250 contacts.

The Behold II also offers integrated Bluetooth with stereo, a hands-free kit, object push, and basic printing profiles. We were able to pair the smartphone with the Logitech Mobile Traveller Bluetooth headset and the Motorola S9 Bluetooth Active Headphones with no problem.

There Behold II offers plenty of messaging options. As a Google Android phone, Gmail is obviously the preferred e-mail client and has its own dedicated in-box. However, you also get Exchange ActiveSync support for your Outlook mail, calendar, and contacts. You also can access POP3 and IMAP accounts, but note that only Gmail and Exchange offer real-time message delivery, while the others are retrieved at incremental intervals starting at every 5 minutes up to every hour.

We were able to sync our Gmail, Yahoo, and Exchange accounts to the Behold II. We have to say we're not particularly huge fans of the Samsung in-box. The folder management was a little clunkier and the synchronization process is more laborious. For example, with the Droid Eris and the HTC Hero, once you enter your Exchange account information, it will automatically ask you if you want to sync your e-mail, calendar, and contacts all at once. However, on the Behold II, it will sync only your mail during set up and then you have to go back into the Settings menu and sync up your calendar and contacts separately.

Once set up, we received all our e-mail with no problem. Google Calendar events synced up just fine with the phone's calendar app. We also created an event from the Behold II and it synced up fine to our PC. However, we didn't see our Outlook appointments, even though we added the account to the calendar app. We are working with Samsung to figure out what's going on, but still, it made us appreciate even more the easier setup of the other Android devices.

In addition to e-mail, the Behold II comes preloaded with IM clients for Google Talk, AIM, Windows Live, and Yahoo Messenger. There's also text and multimedia messaging with threaded chat view.

Web browsing
Like the other Android smartphones, the Behold II features a full HTML Web browser. By default, it opens up to T-Mobile's Web2go portal, but you can always change the home page. The browser supports multiple windows, bookmarking (no visual bookmarks, however), in-page downloads, copy/paste, and search. You can also share pages via e-mail or text message.

Overall, we're happy with the browser, but we still miss the multitouch capabilities of the iPhone and the Palm Pre for easily zooming in and out of pages. Also, double-tapping the Behold II's screen does not perform the zooming function like on the Droid, so you have to use the onscreen magnifying glass.

The Behold II offers both 3G and integrated Wi-Fi. T-Mobile's 3G network now reaches 240 cities nationwide and the carrier hopes to expand its reach from 170 million customers to 200 million customers by the end of the year. Here in San Francisco, T-Mobile's 3G coverage was reliable and swift; CNET's full site loaded in an impressive 36 seconds, while the mobile versions of CNN and ESPN loaded in 11 seconds and 8 seconds, respectively. One note about Wi-Fi: the Behold II does not have UMA support so you can't make calls over a wireless network.

GPS/A-GPS is available to help you navigate through unfamiliar territory. The smartphone comes preloaded with Google Maps, which offers maps with satellite view, real-time positioning and text-based directions, business searches, traffic data, and Google Latitude support. Google Maps Navigation Beta is a feature of Android 2.0, so you won't be able to take advantage of free voice-guided navigation just yet. You can get a free 14-day trial of TeleNav GPS Navigator, but afterward you will have to pay $9.99 per month.

Unfortunately, we couldn't download the most recent version of TeleNav GPS Navigator on the Behold II, so we weren't able to take it out for a test drive. We'll update this section as soon as we're able to; in the meantime, the smartphone found our position on Google Maps in less than a minute.

Samsung bills the Behold II as a "multimedia powerhouse," and though powerhouse might be a bit of an exaggeration, we have to admit that the Behold II offers better multimedia capabilities than some of the other Android devices on the market.

Samsung includes its own media player, which has a Cover Flow-like feature for advancing and rewinding tracks. It also has a built-in equalizer and there are options for repeat, shuffle, creating playlists on the fly, finding similar tracks through the Amazon MP3 Store, conducting album searches, and more.

The richness of the audio quality was really impressive, even through the phone's speakers. Still, you probably don't want to bother your neighbor by blaring music out loud, so take advantage of the 3.5mm headphone jack, plug in your favorite headphones, and enjoy some tunes.

Of course, with the AMOLED display, videos looked amazing. We checked out a couple of MPEG4 videos and the picture looked vibrant and sharp. Synchronization of audio and video was also smooth. YouTube videos played well with little rebuffering, but as with the PC experience, quality can vary.

On back, you'll find the Behold II's 5-megapixel camera and flash.

The Behold II is equipped with a 5-megapixel camera with a flash, 8x zoom, autofocus, and video-recording capabilities. There a number of editing options, including white balance, effects, ISO, and various scene modes. Samsung also throws in a handy Imaging Tool widget that provides access to photo-sharing sites like Flickr and Kodak Gallery. The Behold II offers 200MB of internal memory and up to 16GB expandable memory.

The Behold II took awesome pictures.

Picture quality was impressive. The camera did a nice job of capturing our standard shot. A number of camera phones we've tested have a problem with the harsh fluorescent lighting in our photo studio, but as you can see in the picture above, the image is sharp and the colors are vibrant. We also appreciate the dedicated capture button on the exterior of the phone, since we didn't have to struggle with keeping the phone steady while trying to press an onscreen button.

We tested the quad-band (GSM 850/900/1800/1900; UMTS/HSDPA 1700/2100) Samsung Behold II in San Francisco using T-Mobile service and call quality was good. On our end, there was very little background noise and ample volume. Occasionally, voices sounded a little garbled, but we never had a problem carrying on a conversation and we didn't experience any dropped calls during our testing period. Most friends had positive feedback about the phone's sound quality, but we did have one caller say that he could hear an echo. Speakerphone quality was impressive. Callers didn't even notice a change in quality when we switched over to the speakerphone, and there was plenty of volume so we were able to hear callers in relatively noisy environments.

The Behold II is equipped with a 528MHz Qualcomm ARM 11 processor, and despite the addition of the TouchWiz software, it didn't have too much of an effect on general performance. There was some slight sluggishness to the smartphone--a pause here and there when opening applications--but no worse than some of the other Android devices on the market, and the system never crashed during our testing period.

The Samsung Behold II has a 1,000mAh lithium ion battery with a rated talk time of 6 hours and up to 16 days of standby time. We are still conducting our battery drain tests but will update this section as soon as we have final results. According to FCC radiation tests, the Behold II has a digital SAR rating of 0.67 watt per kilogram.

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