The Samsung SGH-T119 had a low profile when it made its appearance at CES 2009. As a simple candy-bar phone for making calls, it couldn't quite compete with such T-Mobile siblings as the Motorola Renew W233 and the second version of the T-Mobile Shadow. But as basic it may be, it's worth considering if you just need a phone for making calls. Except for a couple of complaints, it offers a simple, easy-to-use design that should be accessible to cell phone newbies. What's more, the feature set is functional and the call quality is serviceable.
The SGH-T119 takes us back to the early days of cell phone design. Instead of a slider model with a razor-thin profile, the SGH-T119 is basically a black rectangle with straight lines and sharp corners. It's relatively compact (4.13 inches by 1.76 inches by 0.56 inch) and lightweight (2.74 ounces) so it's easy to take on the go. The plastic case feels a tad cheap--it should be fine for most users, but the danger-prone should look elsewhere.
The SGH-T119's display measures 1.6 inches and supports just 65,000 colors (128x128 pixels). As such, it won't show sharp graphics or photos, but it's about what you'd expect on a phone of this caliber. You can change the backlighting duration, the contrast and the font size, color, and style. The icon-based menu interface is intuitive.
The navigation array is relatively spacious and tactile. You'll find a square, four-way toggle with a central OK button, two soft keys, and the talk and End/power buttons. You can set the toggle as a shortcut to four user-defined functions. The only things missing are a clear/back key and a dedicated speakerphone button. The keypad buttons are tactile and roomy. We didn't have any major issues dialing or texting, though we couldn't help but notice that the keys are stiff.
The only other exterior feature is a combination charger port/headset jack on the left spine. Of course, that means you're limited to a proprietary jack, and you can use only one peripheral at a time. We were miffed by the lack of a spine-mounted volume rocker. You have to remove the phone from your face to adjust the sound with the volume rocker.
The SGH-T119 has a 300-contact phone book with room in each entry for four phone numbers, an e-mail address, and notes. You can save callers to groups and you can pair them with one of 15 polyphonic ringtones. The handset also supports photo caller ID, but keep in mind it doesn't have a digital camera.
Features are slim but functional. The SGH-T119 has a vibrate mode, text and multimedia messaging, an alarm clock, a calendar, a task list, a calculator, a world clock, a currency and unit converter, a timer, as stopwatch, and a tip calculator. You'll also find a speakerphone, support for T-Mobile's contact syncing, and a voice memo recorder.
You can personalize the SGH-T119 with a variety of background colors, greetings, and wallpaper. You can download more options and additional ringtones from T-Mobile's t-zones service. You also can use your own recorded sounds as ringtones. The SGH-T119 does not come with any games.
We tested the SGH-T119 in San Francisco using T-Mobile service. Call quality was agreeable on the whole. The volume level was loud--even if adjusting the level wasn't convenient--and we enjoyed a clear signal with little static or interference. Voices sounded natural for the most part, but at times we noticed that the audio sounded a tad hollow.
On their end, callers said we sounded fine. A few said that the phone picked up a fair amount of background noise, but they could hear and understand us in most situations. We had some trouble communicating with automated calling systems if we were outside or in a noisy room. Speakerphone calls were loud and pretty clear on our end, though we had to speak very close to the phone in order to be heard.
Of course, we're disappointed that the SGH-T119 is only dual-band (GSM 850/1900). That means that the handset won't work outside of North America.
The SGH-T119 has a rated battery life of 7 hours talk time and 16.6 days standby time. It has a tested talk time of 7 hours and 43 minutes. According to FCC radiation tests, it has a digital SAR of 0.958 watt per kilogram.