Editors' note: In this review, we'll focus on the Samsung Mesmerize's features and performance. For more about the phone's design and core features, please read our reviews of the Samsung Fascinate and other Galaxy S phones.
Samsung puts out a lot of cell phones, but the company's been rather quiet on the smartphone front compared with the likes of HTC and Motorola--that is, until recently. With the introduction of its Galaxy S series, Samsung has been very aggressive about getting the devices into as many hands as possible, with releases for all four major carriers and several regional providers, including the Samsung Mesmerize for U.S. Cellular.
Largely similar to the Samsung Fascinate in design, the Mesmerize brings brilliance in the form of a 4-inch Super AMOLED touch screen, as well as a sleek design, excellent camera, and fast performance. It gives the carrier's other top smartphone, the HTC Desire, a run for its money, but ultimately the choice may come down to your personal preference on design and user interface. The Samsung Mesmerize is available for $199 with a two-year contract and after a $80 mail-in rebate.
As a phone, the Samsung Mesmerize offers a speakerphone, speed dialing, voice commands, conference calling, and text and multimedia messaging with threaded chat view. Bluetooth, 3G, GPS, and integrated Wi-Fi are also all onboard, and as a bonus, the Mesmerize can be used a mobile hot spot for up to five devices. U.S. Cellular's mobile hot-spot plans start at $25 per month with a 5GB data cap. Overage fees are $0.25 per MB, but as part of the carrier's Belief Project, it also has a overage cap of $200, so you would never pay more than that in data overages.
The Samsung Mesmerize ships with Android 2.1 and Samsung's TouchWiz 3.0 interface and will be upgradable to Android 2.2, which, according to Samsung, will start rolling out over the next few weeks to U.S. Galaxy S phones. Still, it brings strong support for Google services, and the smartphone plays nice with various e-mail accounts and social networks, including Gmail, POP3 and IMAP, Microsoft Exchange, Facebook, MySpace, and Twitter. We easily set up our Outlook, Gmail, Yahoo, Facebook, and Twitter accounts on our review unit, and received messages and notifications with no problem.
The smartphone offers a unified in-box and calendar, though you can choose to keep your accounts separate if you prefer. Like the rest of the Galaxy S series, the Mesmerize offers the Write and Go app, from which you can compose a message on a notepad and then select your delivery method, whether it be an SMS, an e-mail, or a status update, so you don't have to find and launch each individual app.
The smartphone comes preloaded with a number of other apps, including ThinkFree Office, Mini Diary, a calculator, and a voice recorder, as well as several U.S. Cellular services, such as Your Navigator (powered by TeleNav), My Contacts Backup, CityID, and Tone Room Deluxe. The Android Market now offers more than 100,000 apps, so you have plenty of titles to choose from. Plus, unlike the Samsung Captivate, you can install third-party apps on the Mesmerize. Just be aware that until the smartphone receives the Froyo update, you can save apps only to the phone's internal memory (2GB).
Fortunately, U.S. Cellular ships the handset with a 16GB microSD card, so you can at least save your multimedia files to the memory card. The smartphone supports a number of music and video file formats--MP3, AAC, AAC+, eAAC+, OGG, WMA, WAV, DivX, XviD, MPEG4, H.263, H.264, WMV--and it's also in line to receive an update that will enable users to download TV shows and movies for rent or purchase from Samsung's Media Hub video store.