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When we first saw the SGH-T519 Trace, we did a double take as we knew we'd seen it somewhere before. For all intents and purposes, it is a twin of the SGH-X820, but a closer look reveals a few changes beyond the obvious color difference. Several buttons have been rearranged, and the SGH-T519 is just slightly bigger at 4.5 by 2.0 by 0.3 inches and marginally heavier at 2.5 ounces. The heftier weight gives the mobile a more solid feel in the hand while remaining easily portable.
Other external features are largely the same. The SGH-T519 Trace's 1.8-inch (220x176 pixels) display is equally beautiful, with support for 262,000 colors. As is the case with most Samsung screens of this caliber, it's bright and vivid but is a little hard to see in direct light. The menu interface shows some welcome changes from previous phones from this company. Instead of the flash- and graphics-heavy interface that became a Samsung trademark, the SGH-T519's menu design features a basic grid of colored icons on a black background. It's still colorful and eye-catching, but it's more user-friendly and functional. You can change brightness, backlight time, and font size, style, and color.
The navigation and keypad buttons are a carryover from the SGH-X820 as well. The navigation toggle has a central OK button and can be programmed as a shortcut to four user-defined shortcuts. However, the toggle is rather difficult to use as there's no clear separation between the toggle and the OK button. Also, since they're flat with the surface of the phone, we had a few misdials. Other navigation controls were better as their large size countered their flush design. There are two soft keys, a clear button, and the talk and end/power keys. The flat backlit keypad buttons are tactile but hard to dial by feel.
Like the SGH-X820's, the SGH-T519's camera lens is at the top rear face of the phone where the casing thickens ever so slightly. Unlike, the SGH-X820, however, the Trace adds a small speaker. In another change from the SGH-X820, the SGH-T519 adds a Micro SD card slot on the left spine just above the camera shutter. As a result, the headset/charger jack moves to the right spine just below the volume rocker.
The SGH-T519 Trace comes with a generous 1,000-contact phone book (the SIM card holds an additional 250 names). It's similar to the SGH-X820's but with a few changes. Each entry holds five phone numbers (as opposed to four), an e-mail address, and notes. You can organize callers into groups and pair them with a photo and one of 37 (instead of 20) polyphonic (64-chord) ring tones. Basic features include a vibrate mode, text and multimedia messaging, a world clock, a calculator, a currency and unit converter, a timer, a stopwatch, an alarm clock, and a calendar. Higher-end offerings include a speakerphone, a voice recorder, and full Bluetooth. Again we were hoping for voice commands and dialing, but sadly they're not onboard the SGH-T519.
Though the SGH-T519 has a 1.3-megapixel camera instead of the 2.0-megapixel shooter on the SGH-X820, it's chock-full of user-friendly features. You can take pictures in six resolutions (1,280x960, 1,152x864, 800x600, 640x480, 320x240, and 176x144) and choose from three quality settings. Other features include a night mode, brightness controls, multishot and mosaic shot modes, a self-timer, five color effects, 24 fun frames, and a digital zoom that's usable even at the highest photo resolution. There are also a fair number of shutter and camera function sounds, but you can't silence the shutter completely. We like the nice set of camera shortcuts, but there's no flash, and self-portraits are tricky without a mirror. The camcorder takes clips in two resolutions (176x144 and 128x96) with sound and a similar set of editing options. Clips meant for multimedia messages are capped at 1 minute, 30 seconds; otherwise you can shoot for as long as the phone's available memory permits. Speaking of which, while the 80MB of integrated shared memory is impressive, the Micro SD card is a welcome improvement over the SGH-X820. Photo quality isn't the best and is much too blurry for a megapixel camera.
You can personalize the SGH-T519 Trace with a variety of wallpapers, colors, skins, background colors, and alert tones. If you want more options or more ring tones, you can download them through the Web browser. The phone also supports MP3 tones, and it comes with a generic digital music player (see the SGH-X820 review for the full rundown). Gaming options include three Java (J2ME) titles, Freekick, Midnight Pool, and Bobby Carrot, but you can always get more if you want them.
We tested the Trace in San Francisco using T-Mobile's service. Call quality was good overall, with clear voices and little interference. Volume, however, was on the low side, and the phone took a few seconds too long to acquire a signal when we turned it on. Callers reported no significant problems but had more trouble hearing us when we were in noisy environments. Speakerphone and Bluetooth headset calls were serviceable, though sound was muffled at higher levels with the speakerphone. Also, be aware that the speaker is on the back of the phone.
The SGH-T19 has a rated talk time of 6 hours and a promised standby time of 8 days. It has a tested talk time of 6 hours and 10 minutes. According to FCC radiation tests the Samsung SGH-T19 Trace has a digital SAR rating of 1.28 watts per kilogram.