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Samsung Replenish - onyx black (Boost Mobile) review: Samsung Replenish - onyx black (Boost Mobile)

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Samsung Replenish - onyx black (Boost Mobile)
6.7

Samsung Replenish - onyx black (Boost Mobile)

The Good

The <b>Samsung Replenish</b> has Android 2.3 Gingerbread, a QWERTY keyboard, and a surprisingly decent 2-megapixel camera.

The Bad

There's no Flash support in the browser, and the Replenish feels a bit cheap and cramped. In addition, the processor is a little laggy.

The Bottom Line

Keep in mind that the Samsung Replenish is an entry-level smartphone, and you may enjoy the Android handset's QWERTY keyboard and camera. If it's quick browsing you're after, keep looking.

The Samsung Replenish joins Boost Mobile's network as its most affordable Android phone. Originally released for Sprint last spring, Boost's Replenish has Android 2.3 Gingerbread, a portrait QWERTY keyboard to complement its touch screen, and Mobile ID. The eco-conscious set can rest assured that it's made from recycled materials.

Apart from that, it's a basic Android device, and there's plenty to pick on. However, the keyboard and pricing help round out Boost's smartphone portfolio. The handset costs $99.99 off-contract.

Editors' note: Portions of this review were taken from the Sprint version of the Samsung Replenish.

Design
From a distance, the Samsung Replenish looks like a knockoff BlackBerry, with its smallish touch screen topping a vertical QWERTY keyboard. Like its rivals, the Replenish is also black, with silver accents. It's also tall, standing 4.8 inches high by 2.4 inches wide by 0.5 inch thick, and it weighs 4.1 ounces, which feels about right in the hand, although the device felt a tad blocky on the ear.


The Samsung Replenish has a black, rather plasticky build, and a QWERTY keyboard.

The Replenish has a 2.8-inch QVGA touch screen with a 240x320-pixel resolution and support for 16 million colors. As low as the resolution is compared with premium and proprietary offerings like Sasmsung's Super AMOLED and HD Super AMOLED screens, it's appropriate for the phone's screen size. Colors and sharpness were decent, and I couldn't complain about brightness, at least when out of direct sunlight. I wish the screen were larger, since 2.8 inches isn't much once you cram in all those application and home-screen icons and attempt to read e-mail or surf the Web.

Below the screen are four hardware buttons that correspond to the menu, home, back, and search. While they're long and narrow, I didn't have any trouble using them. Beneath them is the four-row QWERTY keyboard with buttons that are rounded, raised above the surface, and backlit. Although I could type quickly and accurately, the keyboard felt a little cramped, and keys weren't as responsive or grippy as I've seen on other keyboards. While most Replenish owners shouldn't have a problem, I know that Samsung can do, and has done, better.

The Replenish has a volume rocker on the left spine, and a voice command button and camera shutter button on the right. The Micro-USB charging port is at the bottom, and the power button and 3.5mm headset jack are on top. Some of the buttons feel like cheap plastic, but since it's such an affordable handset, I can't complain too much that the components don't feel premium. The 2-megapixel camera is on the phone's back, and there's a microSD card slot behind the back cover. The Replenish supports up to a 32GB memory card, and comes with a 2GB starter card.

Mobile ID
The Replenish runs Android 2.3 Gingerbread with Mobile ID, a variant on Sprint's attempt to diversify its Android offerings by creating a gallery of third-party ID packs filled with wallpaper, widgets, shortcuts, apps, and so on. In my initial review of Sprint ID, it struck me as meddlesome bloatware, since you have to download an ID Pack in its entirety before you can individually strip out unwanted elements. Mobile ID is less obtrusive than it was before, but if you use it, it still has a noticeable presence on the Replenish.


Although its keyboard is cramped, I was able to type effectively.

Keep in mind that installing ID packs is purely optional, and you can continue to customize the Replenish's five home screens instead using the generic setup.

Features
As with other Android Gingerbread phones, the Replenish supports Bluetooth, GPS, Wi-Fi, and an integrated e-mail and message inbox for multiple POP, IMAP, and Exchange accounts and Twitter and Facebook. The Replenish also has Google Maps with turn-by-turn voice navigation, the Android Market storefront, the standard music player, YouTube, Google Places, and Google Talk for chatting. There are typical organizer apps like a clock, calculator, and calendar. Other preloaded apps include Boost Zone and ThinkFree office. Boost's Replenish is refreshingly free of the boatload of third-party apps you often find with contract carriers.


The 2-megapixel camera on the back took surprisingly decent outdoor shots.

Even though Gingerbread supports Adobe Flash Player, you won't be able to play Flash video or Flash games in the browser--unfortunately, the Replenish's beginner hardware just doesn't pass muster. I could still play Flash video through YouTube and other downloadable apps. Unlike the Replenish for Sprint, Boost's version doesn't support hot-spotting.


Indoor shots weren't so good. The Replenish turned our studio shot mud-brown.

In terms of producing clear images, the 2-megapixel camera was pretty impressive for a shooter of this type. Photos still looked clear when expanded on the computer screen to their full size. Colors weren't as vibrant in photos taken indoors, however, and I did notice that objects took on a blue or brown cast. For editing, there are typical tools and presets for color balance, night mode, self-timing, and so on. The same goes for video, with the typical choices to shoot in high-quality (up to 30 minutes) or lower-quality modes (up to 30 seconds for multimedia messages). The Replenish has 512MB internal memory and holds up to 32GB external storage.

Performance
I tested the dual-band (CDMA 800, 1900) Replenish in San Francisco on Boost Mobile's network, which rides on Sprint. Call quality was pretty good overall. I enjoyed strong volume and a clear line, but voices on the other end sounded fuzzy and had a lisping quality. Voice tone was also a tad uneven, which gave callers a faintly rickety cadence.

On their end of the line, callers gave the Replenish a thumbs-up for volume and clarity--there weren't any interruptions nor any background noise. Unfortunately, my voice also sounded unnatural and maybe a little scratchy, probably the cause of distortion.

Samsung Replenish (Boost Mobile) call quality sample Listen now: "="">

Speakerphone wasn't bad when I tested it by holding the phone at waist level; I didn't have to strain to hear like I often do. Also, voices--while a bit hollow--sounded refreshingly true-to-life, not shrill, or metallic. The phone also buzzed in step with the speaker and sounded "hot" and overloaded.

Gone are the days when a 600MHz battery is considered adequate for a smartphone. Yet that's what the Replenish has. As long as you're patient and can wait out a little lagginess, you'll be all right.

3G data speeds were available throughout San Francisco. It took almost a minute to load CNET's mobile-optimized site and 17 seconds to load the New York Times' mobile-optimized site. Both times were many seconds slower than other 3G networks have provided, which could indicate less robust network speeds. Of course, many factors affect your phone's performance, so your results may differ.

The Replenish has a rated battery life of up to 5.4 hours of continuous talk time and 9 days of standby time on its 1,600mAh lithium ion battery. According to our tests, it has a talk time of 6 hours and 5 minutes. According to FCC radio frequency emission tests, the Replenish has a digital SAR of 0.3 watt per kilogram.

Conclusion
Samsung has done a nice job of creating an entry-level eco-phone that balances cost and convenience. About $100 gets you a Boost smartphone with a QWERTY keyboard, making it the contract-free carrier's lowest-cost smartphone. While it felt cramped at times, I was also able to type effectively. The Replenish took surprisingly clear and sharp photos for a 2-megapixel camera, and most other features behaved as expected. The lack of effective Flash support in the browser was the biggest disappointment on a smartphone that otherwise lives up to humble expectations. If you're a cost-conscious consumer seeking an off-contract smartphone with a keyboard, you could check out the Replenish. However, if you're planning to spend much time online, it might be better to level up.

Samsung Replenish - onyx black (Boost Mobile)
6.7

Samsung Replenish - onyx black (Boost Mobile)

Score Breakdown

Design 6Features 6Performance 7