Samsung Gravity TXT - blue (T-Mobile)
At this point, you'd think that there were almost as many Samsung Gravity phones as there are handsets in the company's Galaxy line. All right, we're exaggerating just a bit, but the Gravity Txt is, in fact, the sixth such device for T-Mobile. First we had the original Gravity back in 2008, which was followed by the Gravity 2, the Gravity 3, the Gravity T, and the Android-powered Gravity Smart. Like most of its predecessors, the Gravity Txt is a functional device that's built around messaging. The keyboard can be a little stiff, and we don't love the optical joystick, but the simple design and decent call quality caused few complaints.
Compared to the previous Gravity models, the Gravity Txt, aka the SGH-T379, looks most like the Gravity 3. Instead of a tiny touch screen as on the Gravity T, you'll find a more manageable arrangement with a full keyboard hidden behind a slider design. Indeed, this is perfect example of a phone where less is definitely more. Even more unassuming is the basic gray skin punctuated by an emerald-green stripe around the edge. The handset measures 4.41 inches long by 2.09 inches wide by 0.59 inch deep and weighs 3.59 ounces.
The (QVGA) 2.4-inch display supports 262,000 colors. Though not especially vivid, it's perfectly fine on a phone like this. You can adjust the brightness and the backlight time and choose a color theme and wallpaper. What's more, the display's orientation rotates automatically when you open the slider (there's no accelerometer). Powering the phone is Samsung's basic user interface, which shouldn't pose a challenge to learn.
Below the display is the navigation array, which we found to be one of the Gravity Txt's more troubling features. Instead of a standard four-way toggle with a central OK button, the handset instead has a square optical joystick. Swiping your finger across the joystick enables you to scroll around the grid-based main menu and through the longer lists in the internal menus. Though we don't disagree with the concept of an optical joystick in principle, in practice it doesn't quite work here. The joystick is too small, especially for people with larger hands, and the motion just feels a little clunky. We got used to it, but it did take time.
Surrounding the joystick are two soft keys, a messaging shortcut, a back button, and the Talk and End/power controls. They're flush with the surface of the phone, but spacious. Farther down is an alphanumeric keypad. The keys feel rather squashed together, but it's not a big deal. On the right side, you'll find the Micro-USB charger port and the camera shutter. The volume rocker and microSD card slot are on the left side and the 3.5mm headset jack rests on the top end of the phone. The camera lens sits on the rear side next to the sole speaker.
Fortunately, the QWERTY keyboard beneath the sturdy slider mechanism feels bigger. It takes up the full width of the phone leaving plenty of space between the individual buttons, and you get a fair assortment of dedicated shortcuts for emoticons, messaging, the Web browser, and social media apps. Letters share space with numbers and punctuation (there's even a ".com" button), some of which are highlighted in green. The Alt key is conveniently marked in green, as well.
The keyboard, however, wasn't without its faults. The keys are flat and relatively stiff, which made for a slow and somewhat plodding typing experience. It was something else that we grew accustomed to, but again, it took a while. We also weren't pleased with the placement of the keyboard navigation keys. The arrow buttons on the extreme right are fine, but we'd prefer the OK button not to be on that same far side. The soft keys also feel a bit strange since they're not directly under the corresponding commands on the display.
The phone book holds 1,000 contacts with room in each entry for multiple phone numbers, an e-mail address, a URL, an anniversary, a street address, a birthday, and notes. You can save callers to groups and pair them with a photo and a ringtone. Other essentials include messaging and e-mail, an alarm clock, a task list, a memo pad, a calculator, a world clock, a tip calculator, a timer, and a stopwatch.
As we said before, the Gravity Txt is far from being a smartphone, but it offers a few extra features beyond the basics. Inside are Bluetooth, USB syncing, voice commands and dialing, a TeleNav GPS app, an RSS reader, and a Social Buzz app that offers access to Facebook, MySpace, and Twitter. There's also a rudimentary music player, but it will have limited appeal to audiophiles.
The 2-megapixel camera takes photos in four resolutions, from a full 2 megapixels (1,600x1,200 pixels) down to below QVGA (320x240 pixels). Other features include a white balance, spot metering, a digital zoom (not available in all resolutions), multishot and mosaic shot modes, a panoramic feature, a smile shot option (the camera will detect when a subject smiles and shoot automatically), a self-timer, and three shutter sounds.
The camcorder shoots clips in two resolutions (322x240 pixels and 176x144 pixels) and offers most of the same editing options as a still camera. Clips meant for multimedia messages are capped at about a minute, but you can shoot for longer in standard mode.
Photo quality was better than we expected with bright colors and little image noise. Videos, on the other hand, were about as grainy and jerky as you'd expect from a low-resolution shooter. Once you're finished, you can save photos and clips to the Gravity's Txt's 115MB of memory. That's not a lot, but the microSD card slot offers more space. And just in case, a handy meter tells you how much room you have left. For sharing your work, the handset offers quick uploads to Flickr, Kodak, Photobucket, and Snapfish.
The Gravity Txt has a standard WAP browser. It's no worse than any other WAP browser, but it certainly can't compare to what you get on even the most basic smartphone. It can get the job done, but just know what you're in for. The handset comes with three demo games: Scrabble, Tetris, and Uno. You can get the full versions and more apps from T-Mobile.
We tested the quad-band (850/900/1800/1900) Samsung Gravity Txt world phone in San Francisco using T-Mobile service. Call quality was quite satisfactory, on the whole. The signal remained strong in most places, calls connected quickly, and we detected no static or interference. What's more, our friends' voices sounded natural. On the downside, the volume could have been a bit louder. We had some trouble hearing on the street, for instance. The Gravity Txt also supports T-Mobile's 3G network, though it will be of limited use given the handset's basic browser and data features.
AT&T Samsung Gravity Txt call quality sample Listen now:
On their end, callers also were pleased. Most people could tell that we were using a cell phone, but they didn't report any issues outside of some wind noise and one instance of feedback. Speakerphone calls were fine, but not spectacular. The sound was surprisingly clear on our end, though there was a background hiss at the highest volume levels. Callers could hear us as long as we were close to the phone.
The Gravity Txt has a rated battery life of 6.5 hours of talk time and 18.75 days of standby time. According to FCC radiation tests, the Gravity Txt has a digital SAR of 0.87 watt per kilogram.
In the end, the Gravity Txt is no better, or worse, than the models that came before it. We like the simple design, the basic features, and the good call quality, but there are aspects of the design that remain bothersome. We got used to them, as we said, but we wish we didn't have to. But if you're looking for a reliable messaging phone that won't break the bank, given that the Gravity Txt is just $9.99 with service, you can't go wrong.