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Samsung Exhibit II 4G - marine blue (T-Mobile) review: Samsung Exhibit II 4G - marine blue (T-Mobile)

Samsung Exhibit II 4G - marine blue (T-Mobile)

Jessica Dolcourt Senior Director, Commerce & Content Operations
Jessica Dolcourt is a passionate content strategist and veteran leader of CNET coverage. As Senior Director of Commerce & Content Operations, she leads a number of teams, including Commerce, How-To and Performance Optimization. Her CNET career began in 2006, testing desktop and mobile software for Download.com and CNET, including the first iPhone and Android apps and operating systems. She continued to review, report on and write a wide range of commentary and analysis on all things phones, with an emphasis on iPhone and Samsung. Jessica was one of the first people in the world to test, review and report on foldable phones and 5G wireless speeds. Jessica began leading CNET's How-To section for tips and FAQs in 2019, guiding coverage of topics ranging from personal finance to phones and home. She holds an MA with Distinction from the University of Warwick (UK).
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Jessica Dolcourt
5 min read


Samsung Exhibit II 4G - marine blue (T-Mobile)

The Good

The <b>Samsung Exhibit II 4G</b> has HSPA+ speeds, good call quality, and a lot more bells and whistles than you'd expect from an Android 2.3 Gingerbread phone at this price.

The Bad

A cheaper-looking design keeps the Exhibit II from being a lustworthy handset, and photos lack a little brightness.

The Bottom Line

A surprisingly full feature set makes the Samsung Exhibit II 4G ideal for Android bargain-hunters; just don't expect the best of the best.

T-Mobile has taken an interesting turn with the Samsung Exhibit II 4G, and I'll tell you why. The original Samsung Exhibit 4G (which was quite good) only received the breath of life in June, and it's already being subsumed by a sequel. Moreover, the new Exhibit is the same phone as the Samsung Galaxy W, which was introduced for the U.K. last August.

I'm not sure why T-Mobile was in such a rush to accelerate its Exhibit brand (apart, perhaps, from the ease of already possessing rights to the Exhibit name), but I will admit that the specs are nice for the price. First things first, the Exhibit II 4G runs on T-Mobile's HSPA+ "4G" network. It has a 3.7-inch WVGA touch screen, a 1GHz processor, a 3-megapixel rear-facing camera, and a front-facing VGA camera.

There's also support for T-Mobile TV, and apps like Qik video and the Swype virtual keyboard come preinstalled.

Pricing is the really attractive selling point, with the Exhibit II 4G costing just $29.99 after a $50 mail-in rebate when you buy it with a new, two-year contract, and $199.99 off-contract through Wal-Mart. In fact, T-Mobile is calling the Exhibit II 4G the "first no-annual-contract 4G smartphone to be sold at most Wal-Mart stores." The model I reviewed is sold off-contract and contains T-Mobile's prepaid SIM.

Despite its name, the Exhibit II 4G bears only a little resemblance to the original. Where the first Exhibit 4G had a flat bottom and a rounded top, the sequel literally flips the design on its head, giving us a flat top and a rounded bottom. That's where the similarities end. Instead of the rubberized grippy material enrobing the Exhibit II, it's all hard plastic: a shiny front, matte gray sides, and a textured, nubbly dark-blue backing. There's one metal accent, a ring surrounding the camera lens.

With a hard plastic body instead of a smooth finish, the Samsung Exhibit II 4G barely looks like its predecessor.

At 4.54 inches tall by 2.35 inches wide by 0.45 inch thick, the Exhibit II 4G is fairly thin and compact, so it fits well in pockets, purses, and other carrying contraptions. The phone weighs 4 ounces, which feels fine for its size; you wouldn't want it to be any lighter lest it feel cheap and fake.

It has a 3.7-inch TFT LCD WVGA (that's a 480x800-pixel resolution, mind you) with support for 16 million colors. As with most screens, it looks bright, colorful, clear, and sharp when on its own, and it isn't until you hold it next to the screen that's best-in-class that you can tell the difference. This isn't the best screen out there by a long shot, but I have no complaints when beholding it on its own. That is, except when the screen comes into contact with direct sunlight and gets washed out.

The Android 2.3 Gingerbread operating system steers the Exhibit II 4G, along with Samsung's TouchWiz interface. That gives you seven customizable home screens, an overview screen where you can see all screens at once, easy access to system services in the pull-down notifications menu, and a certain look and feel to the interface, from the static buttons on the home screens to the look and behavior of the app tray.

In addition to the front-facing VGA camera, there's a decent 3-megapixel camera on the back.

Like the original Exhibit, the Exhibit II 4G has a front-facing VGA camera above the screen. The camera isn't stellar on its own, but it's pretty great to have around for video chats and easy self-portraits. Beneath the screen there are the four touch-sensitive buttons currently typical for smartphones, which is a shame because I was quite partial to the physical Home button on the original Exhibit; it gave the phone some character.

For external features, there are the 3.5mm headset jack and Micro-USB charging port on top, the volume rocker on the left spine, and the power button on the right. I'm a fan of physical camera buttons, but the Exhibit II 4G, like its predecessor, is without one; you'll need to use the camera app icon instead. Video is serviceable, though colors are a little off and also a tad less vibrant than the real-world spectrum.

On the back is that 3-megapixel camera with flash, and lurking beneath the back cover is the microSD card slot, which can hold up to 32GB of memory.

You'll find your usual complement of Android features in the Exhibit II 4G, like Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS, multimedia messaging, and a nearly limitless phone book.

There are all the usual Google services to play with, such as Gmail, YouTube, Google Maps with turn-by-turn voice navigation, Google Places, and the built-in music player you can use when you've inserted a microSD card.

The Exhibit II 4G's camera (left) wasn't as good as the Samsung Stratosphere's 5-megapixel camera (right), but it wasn't bad.

Samsung adds its AllShare DLNA, Kies Air syncing apps, and Samsung Social Hub. T-Mobile also adds a load of services, including the subscription-based T-Mobile TV HD. The service costs $12.99 per month after a 30-day trial. Other features are 411, Bonus Apps, Highlight, My Account, My Device, T-Mobile Name ID, Wi-Fi calling, and Visual Voicemail. TeleNav voice navigation is another option.

These photos were taken outdoors in even lighting. The Exhibit II 4G's photo is again on the left, with the Verizon Stratosphere's photo on the right.

In addition to that, there are Bejeweled 2 and Tetris demos, the Blio e-reading app, Lookout Anti-Virus, Mini Diary Polaris Office, Slacker Radio, and Zinio Reader. Qik video chat makes use of the front-facing camera.

Here are photos from the two phones' cameras, this time focused on a moped.

The 3-megapixel camera with flash takes care of still and videos. The image quality is pretty clear and sharp, though the colors aren't as vibrant as you get from other more technically powerful cameras. Still, the Exhibit II 4G did a pretty good job. Even the front-facing VGA camera is fairly even and clear.

This is the Exhibit II 4G's version of CNET's studio shot.

I tested the GSM (850/900/1800/1900; UMTS/HSPA+) in San Francisco using T-Mobile's network. Call quality was very good in my tests. The volume was loud, voices sounded strong, clear, and true, though a tiny bit hazy, and there wasn't any other regular background noise. I did intermittently hear an odd high-frequency whine, though it wasn't disruptive enough to throw off the conversational flow. It was more or less the same story on the caller's end as well, with strong volume and a clear background line, plus voice quality that was a tad muddy around the edges.

Samsung Exhibit II 4G call quality sample Listen now: "="">

Speakerphone was very loud for both parties when I held the phone at waist level, a plus in this case since this regular test caller has noted that other phones slice volume in half. Still, my voice sounded distant and echoey to my caller, who added that she didn't want to maintain a longer conversation over it if she didn't have to. The echo was also apparent on my end, but less so, and the line remained clear, without background interruptions or blips.

As for speed, the Exhibit II 4G performed well on T-Mobile's HSPA+ network. The CNET mobile-optimized site loaded in 14 seconds, but the full site loaded in a speedy 19 seconds. It was just 4 seconds for the highly optimized ESPN mobile site, and 15 seconds for the desktop version to load. Out of the real world and into the world of diagnostics, things weren't quite as impressive. I used Ookla's Speedtest.net app in various locations throughout San Francisco. Download speeds ranged from a low of 0.20Mbps to a high of 4.69Mbps. Upload speeds were typically slower, peaking at 1.68Mbps. Although these numbers pale in comparison to Verizon's 4G LTE speeds, which regularly reached the 20Mbps range, the real-world experience was satisfying.

Those who are accustomed to dual-core processors will notice a little bit of lag when navigating around the Exhibit II 4G, but it's very minimal given the 1GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon processor, and didn't detract from the phone's usability.

The Exhibit II 4G has a rated battery life of up to 5.5 hours and a standby time of up to 15 days on its 1500mAh lithium ion battery. It has a digital SAR of 0.74 watt per kilogram.

If you're all about bang for the buck, the Samsung Exhibit II 4G could be your next Android phone. It may not look as upscale as Samsung models like the $50 Focus Flash, but for $30 on contract and $200 off, it delivers irreproachable value. The cameras are quite decent, call quality is solid, and HSPA+ speeds are there. It's also packed with some very useful apps, like Qik and T-Mobile TV. It may not be top-of-the-line, but if it's an affordable, reliable Android Gingerbread phone you're after, this one's tough to beat for the price.


Samsung Exhibit II 4G - marine blue (T-Mobile)

Score Breakdown

Design 7Features 7Performance 8