Just a few weeks after we first saw it at CES, the new Samsung SGH-T329 Stripe is now available with T-Mobile. Styled in grey and silver with appealing curvy lines, the Stripe barely looks like its =" samsung_sgh_t309="" 4505-6454_7-31597361.html"="">SGH-T309 predecessor but it sports many of the same features including a VGA camera, a speakerphone, and instant messaging. And this time you also get Bluetooth. Sound quality was serviceable though patchy at times. You can get it for $49 with service.
As we said above, the SGH-T329 Stripe looks quite different from T-Mobile's Samsung SGH-T309. It's a tad taller at 3.3x1.7x0.9 inches but it's also a bit lighter at 3.3 ounces. What's more, instead of the SGH-T309's black, the SGH-T329 features a cool silver color scheme with a grey stripe (of course) that is both simple and appealing at the same time. We also like the curved shape, yet we have one tiny complaint. Since the rear face is beveled, the phone won't rest fast on a surface with the flip open.
The vertical external screen is a nice change from the standard square display. It shows the time, battery life, signal strength, and caller ID. You can change the contrast but not the font size or the backlight time. Also, the monochrome resolution means it doesn't support photo caller ID, and it won't work as a viewfinder for self-portraits. The Stripe's camera lens sits just above the external display but there's no flash or self-portrait lens. A volume rocker sits on the left spine while a camera shutter, and the charger port/headset jack sits on the right spine.
The 1.75-inch (128x160 pixels) internal display on the SGH-T329 supports 65,000 colors and is about average as Samsung phones go. It's perfectly serviceable for browsing the user-friendly menus but photos and games won't look as rich as they would on a 262,000-color display. You can change the brightness, backlighting time, the background color, and the font style, size, and color.
The Stripe's navigation array is standard Samsung consisting of a four-way toggle with a central OK button, two soft keys, a clear key, and the talk and end/power buttons. You can set the four-way toggle to act as a shortcut to four user-defined functions but we did miss a dedicated speakerphone key. The keypad buttons are quite large with easy-to-read text. We also like the beveled shape that makes it easy to dial by feel. They also have a bright backlighting for dialing in dim situations.
The Samsung SGH-T329 includes all the basics you would expect on a basic camera phone. The 1,000-contact phone book has room in each entry for five phone numbers, an e-mail address, and notes (the SIM holds an additional 250 names). You can save contacts to groups or pair them with a polyphonic ringtone--just nine come with the phone. You can assign contacts a photo as well, but keep in mind they won't show on the external display. Other features include a vibrate mode, text and multimedia messaging, a speakerphone, an alarm clock, a calendar, a task list, a calculator, a world clock, a unit converter, a timer, a stopwatch, and a tip calculator. Instant-messaging support for AOL, ICQ, Windows Live, and Yahoo is on board as well, and we're glad to see Samsung improved on the SGH-T309 by including Bluetooth.
The Stripe's VGA camera takes pictures in four resolutions (640x480, 320x240, 160x120, and 128x96). Other features were less plentiful than on the SGH-T309 but you still get a decent range of options including five color effects, a 4X zoom, brightness and white balance controls, a night mode, and a self-timer. As we said previously though, a flash and a self-portrait mirror are absent. Once a picture is taken, you can send it via multimedia messaging, upload it to an online T-Mobile album, or store it the phone's 21MB of memory. Photo quality is what you'd expect from a VGA camera; objects were fuzzy, and colors were washed out.
You can personalize the Stripe with a variety of wallpaper and alert sounds. As always, you can buy more options from T-Mobile's T-Zones Internet store with the WAP 2.0 wireless Web browser. For playtime, there are demo versions of five Java (J2ME) titles: Forgotten Warrior, Freekick, Arch Angel, Lumines Block Challenge, and Midnight Pool. You'll have to buy the full versions for extended play.
We tested the tri-band (GSM 850/900/1900) Samsung SGH-T329 Stripe in San Francisco using T-Mobile service. Sound quality was uneven overall. The volume was a tad weak and may be too low for users with hearing impairments. Also, while voices sounded natural, the audio was patchy on a few occasions. It wasn't a total deal breaker but it was noticeable just the same. Also, while voices sounded natural, the audio was patchy on a few occasions. It wasn't a deal breaker but it was noticeable just the same. On their end, callers reported similar conditions. Speakerphone calls has a slight echoed effect and were only really effective when we were in a quite location. The tri-band support is rather disappointing as we're used to seeing full quad-band world phones from T-Mobile.
The Stripe has a rated battery life of six hours talk time and 11 days standby time. Our tests, however, revealed a talk time of only 4 hours, 25 minutes. According to FCC radiation tests, the SGH-T329 has a digital SAR rating of 1.38 watts per kilogram.