Something is happening over at Samsung. Either the company is purposely banking its existence on thin slider phones, or it's just run out of ideas. T-Mobile's latest cell phone is perfect testament to this trend. Though it does offer a novel "coffee brown" color scheme, there's nothing new about its basic design and features. Inside the trim slider handset you'll find a 1.3-megapixel camera, a music player, stereo Bluetooth, and a speakerphone. Even with its relatively average performance, it's not a terrible handset; it's just that we're itching for Samsung to take a break from the usual and take a real risk. Come on, Samsung, really wow us. The SGH-T819 is available for $99.99 with a two-year contract, or $219.99 if you pay full price. But as long you're looking in this price range, we'd suggest the Nokia 6263.
At 3.96 inches by 2.03 inches by 0.55 inch and 3.2 ounces, the SGH-T819 is about the same size as T-Mobile's earlier Samsung SGH-429. On the whole, it has a comfortable feel in the hand and a sturdy construction; we also liked the convenient thumb grip for moving the slider up and down. The main display measures two inches and supports 262,000 colors. Like most screens of its class, it's relatively bright and offers a vibrant resolution. But on the flip side, it's also difficult to see in direct light. You can change the backlighting time, the brightness, and the dialing font type, size, and color. The menu interface (available in two styles) is standard Samsung, which means it's simple and easy to use. Discarding its flash-heavy menus of a couple years ago was a good decision on Samsung's part.
The navigation controls have slightly different design from most Samsung handsets. Instead of the ubiquitous trapezoidal toggle, the SGH-T819 features a relatively small circular toggle with a central OK key. The two large controls on both sides of the toggle each serve a dual purpose. The top half of each button functions as a soft key, and the bottom half serves as the calling keys. You'll also find a customizable shortcut control, a Web browser button and a dedicated clear button. On the whole, the navigation array is user-friendly, but we wish some of the controls were a tad bigger. The keypad buttons also left us divided. Though they're big enough, they're completely flat.
Completing the exterior of the SGH-T819 are a volume rocker and a headset/charger jack on the left spine. Over on the right spine are a thin camera shortcut and the microSD card slot. The camera lens sits on the top rear of the phone next to a self-portrait mirror. You don't have to open the slider to use the camera, which is convenient, but we'd prefer having a flash.
The SGH-T819 has a 1,000-contact phone book with room in each entry for six phone numbers, two e-mail addresses, two URLs, a company name and title, a nickname, a birthday, and two street addresses (the SIM card holds an additional 250 names). You can organize contacts into group and you pair callers with a photo and one of 20 64-note polyphonic ringtones. Other basics include a vibrate mode, text and multimedia messaging, an alarm clock, a calendar, a task list, a notepad, a calculator, a world clock, PC syncing, a currency and unit converter, a timer, a stopwatch, a tip calculator, and instant messaging software for AOL, Yahoo, ICQ, and Windows Live. More advanced options include a speakerphone, voice dialing, and stereo Bluetooth.