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Samsung Mesmerize (U.S. Cellular) review: Samsung Mesmerize (U.S. Cellular)


Samsung Mezmerise (U.S. Cellular)

Samsung Mesmerize (U.S. Cellular)

The Good

The Samsung Mesmerize boasts a beautiful Super AMOLED touch screen and a 1GHz Hummingbird processor. The smartphone's 5-megapixel camera takes excellent photos and video.

The Bad

Call quality could be slightly better. The phone feels a bit slick.

The Bottom Line

The Samsung Mesmerize is a top-notch smartphone for U.S. Cellular customers, offering a brilliant touch screen, speed, and plenty of features.

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 uses the company's TouchWiz 3.0 interface.

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.

We were very impressed with the camera's picture quality.

Last but not least, we have the Mesmerize's 5-megapixel camera. It has an LED flash, tap to focus, and numerous editing options: white balance settings, ISO, metering, antishake, blink detection, just to name a few. Picture quality was excellent. Objects were clearly defined in our images, and colors were rich and vibrant. It's much better than the HTC Desire's camera. HD videos taken with the camera were also sharp and didn't suffer from the halo effect that we've experienced on other camera phones.

The Mesmerize has DLNA support, so you can use the AllShare app on the phone to wirelessly stream content, such as photos, to a DLNA-compliant device, such as an HDTV.

We tested the dual-band (CDMA 800/1900; EV-DO Rev. A) Samsung Mesmerize in New York using roaming U.S. Cellular service and call quality was OK. There was plenty of volume on our end of the call, but the audio could be slightly muffled at times. Meanwhile, friends said they could hear some crackling on their end, as if we were crumpling a wrapper or some paper, but none of this prevented us from continuing with conversation. It was just a bit distracting at times.

Samsung Mesmerize call quality sample Listen now:

Speakerphone quality wasn't anything surprising. Calls sounded slightly hollow, but clear, and had plenty of volume. We were also able to successfully pair the smartphone with the Logitech Mobile Traveller Bluetooth headset and the Motorola S9 Bluetooth Active Headphones.

Though we were roaming, we got 3G coverage in Manhattan with satisfactory speeds. CNET's full site came up in 29 seconds, whereas the mobile sites for CNN and ESPN loaded in 7 seconds and 9 seconds, respectively. YouTube videos loaded within a couple of seconds, with HQ clips taking a few seconds longer. However, the videos looked beautiful on the smartphone's Super AMOLED screen and playback was continuous with synchronized audio and video.

Like the other Galaxy S models, the Samsung Mesmerize is powered by a 1GHz Hummingbird processor, and the smartphone ran like a well-oiled machine. Apps launched almost immediately, and the phone handily switched between tasks. It was rare that we experienced any significant delays on the device.

In our battery drain tests, the Samsung Mesmerize provided an impressive 7 hours of continuous talk time on a single charge. According to FCC radiation tests, the Mesmerize has a digital SAR rating of 0.57 watt per kilogram and a Hearing Aid Compatibility rating of M4.

Samsung Mezmerise (U.S. Cellular)

Samsung Mesmerize (U.S. Cellular)

Score Breakdown

Design 9Features 8Performance 8