Samsung's Beat for T-Mobile

The most obvious feature on the outside of the Beat is the bright green speaker grille that surrounds a music oriented d-pad controller. The small, square external color display located above the music controls provides status and music player information. It is reasonably bright and colorful. A 'hold' button on the right hand side of the phone can be used to lock or unlock the music controls as well as flip back and forth between the music player screen and the time/signal/battery screen. Also located on the right edge of the phone are the dedicated camera shutter button and the microSD memory card slot. A 1GB card is included in the box, but the slot supports cards of up to 2GB in capacity. On the left hand side are the volume control and the power/headset jack. Both a wired stereo headset and a 3.5mm headphone jack adapter with microphone are included in the box. A USB cable is also included. It can be used for charging or synchronizing music and data with a desktop PC.

The internal display and controls on the T539 are all adequate, but not stellar performers. The TFT display is bright and colorful, but its low resolution and pixelated images remind one of phones from a few years back. It works, but it just looks old-school. The keypad, however, looks quite modern in a Motorola RAZR way. It is a flat membrane keypad. It offers reasonable tactile feedback, but lacks any significant finger guides to aid users when using it without looking at their fingers. A dedicated shortcut key that can be configured by the user is located to the right of the d-pad. That's a good idea.

One of the only real shortcomings with the Samsung Beat that we came across is what appears to be a relatively weak internal antenna. The Beat had some trouble with our less than perfect T-Mobile signal. It failed to find or maintain a connection where most other devices were able to function, even if only poorly. It isn't the worst phone I have tried, by far, but I would have to say it is somewhat below average in terms of reception. The audio quality was very good, however, and even the speakerphone performed acceptably. The Beat's battery managed a decent 5 hours and 40 minutes in our talk time test.