The Good The Samsung Galaxy S Relay 4G has Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich, a generous QWERTY keyboard, a good 5-megapixel camera, and some of the best call quality I’ve heard on a cell phone.
The Bad The Galaxy S Relay 4G keyboard in the space of some rooms will feel stiff and the phone is on the voluminous side.
The Bottom Line Those looking for a QWERTY smartphone will gravitate to the thick and hearty Samsung Galaxy S Relay 4G, which has Android 4.0, powerful specifications and excellent call quality.
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Keyboard phones are a bit of a fad, but those who prefer physical buttons over virtual squares can count on the Samsung Galaxy S Relay 4G, an Android 4.0 ice cream sandwich phone that runs on the HSPA + 42 4G T-Mobile.
Specifications spoil it in the high mid range. It has a beautiful 4-inch screen, a 1.5GHz dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 processor and a 5MP camera that takes pretty good shots. It also has a front camera, a spacious sliding QWERTY keyboard, as well as the best call quality I’ve ever heard on a smartphone, for those who actually make the occasional call.
Not everyone will like the larger sizes (this is the keyboard for you), and I had a few complaints about the keyboard itself, but the price is just $ 149.99 after $ 50 postage and with a new two-year service, and Relay 4G offers a lot for those who prefer accurate typing.
Samsung Galaxy S Relay 4G slides on (photos)
Design and build
This is, of course, self-explanatory (I’ll say it anyway), but you need to love the keyboard to want this phone. While not a defining feature of the Galaxy S Relay 4G, the QWERTY sliding keyboard is probably a major factor in the purchase decision. So let’s start with this.
The sliding mechanism seemed tight on my scanner, taking some pressure to open it, but it became easier to understand exactly where to place my hands when I was using the phone more. When I didn’t do it right, the phone either got stuck or fell out of my hands.
The spacious five-line QWERTY keyboard greets you when you open your phone. I like everything it looks like: a dedicated number row, wide and fully separated keys, sanded gray material behind them. Buttons do not rise far from the surface, but they are responsive and tactile; my fingers knew exactly where and where to push. As someone who notes the addition of grammar and punctuation to her emails and texts, I appreciate the few dedicated punctuation keys. There are also buttons to launch voice commands, arrows around the screen, and initiate a new text message or email.
My main complaint is that the large spaciousness of the keyboard is not for everyone. These are a little wide hands for me, so I found that I was stretching, which slowed me down. I prefer typing accuracy over speed, so I’m still glad to be able to blame all typos on myself, rather than on a virtual predictive keyboard. Still, I found that I only opened the keyboard for longer messages and forms, and kept virtual for short entries.
When QWERTY doesn’t work, let’s talk about the rest of the phone. It’s 5 inches tall, 2.6 inches wide, and 0.53 inches deep to accommodate the keyboard. As the screen size increases by 4 inches, the 4G relay is a manageable, but heavier element to carry. It weighs 5.2 ounces.
The rounded corners and the squeezing soft-touch material on the back make it very comfortable for the hands and easy on the ear. Samsung keeps the phone looking pretty simple and straightforward. Apart from the lining, everything is black, plastic and glossy, Samsung’s signature looks. For navigation, Samsung has selected a narrow physical button in the center and capacitive Menu and Back keys on both sides.
As I mentioned above, the 4G relay has a 4-inch WVGA Super AMOLED display, with a resolution of 480×800 pixels. Like other Samsung screens, this one is crisp and bright, even in automatic settings. The colors are also bright and rich. Above the screen is a 1.3-megapixel camera lens, and on the back is a 5-megapixel camera module, accompanied by an LED flash.
Samsung stores ports and so is easy. The relay has a volume rocker on the left and a power button on the right. 3.5mm headset jack at the top and below is a Micro-USB charging port. Behind the back cover is a microSD card slot.
OS and features
The Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich is powered by Samsung’s TouchWiz interface. Although much to the user touch of the TouchWiz layer, it looks a lot like Android 2.3 Gingerbread. Those hoping to see an ice cream sandwich in all the glory of Google will be disappointed.
However, the functionality does come with multiple sign-ins, access to Google apps and services, turn-by-turn maps, and Google Play Store that completes downloads. Connections include Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and GPS, NFC support is also available Samsung’s S Beam feature like Android Beam on ICS, but even more so.
You will find mobile hotspot support if this is part of your tariff plan, VPN and Wi-Fi Direct (used in S Beam). You can turn on motion support, which opens many gesture-based activities, such as lifting the phone to the head while on the contact information page to make a direct call, flipping the phone to mute or pause music, and many other actions.
As far as applications are concerned, there are many on Relay 4G – you decide whether it is a help or an obstacle. You’ll find things you need, such as a music player, clock, calendar and calculator, as well as many third-party applications that include T-Mobile applications such as T-Mobile TV, T-Mobile HotSpot, Mobile Organizer and T-Mobile account.
Other applications include Evernote, Facebook, Dropbox, Lookout Security, Slacker Radio and Telenav GPS Navigator. Samsung also has several applications, such as a media hub, and Samsung takes voice actions called S Voice. Although S Voice can do useful things such as running applications and turning off and on system settings such as Wi-Fi, I did not consider this accurate like Gray in my tests .
I was very impressed with the quality of the pictures taken with the 5 megapixel Relay camera. Of course, they were not as clear or as clear as the photos taken with a good 8MP camera, and some of the photos were downright soft. However, I think people will be mostly happy with the results if they don’t expect the relay shooter to replace a special camera for family portraits. The photos were colorful and some were sharply focused; for example, a close-up embroidered pillow came out beautifully, with textured detail penetrating.
The best looking room shots were taken with lots of natural light; the flash may have a tendency to fire. Since there is no continuous autofocus, you just need to make sure that you focus before taking the picture, otherwise you may have an unwanted nebula.
Samsung has added a few extra ice cream sandwich options, including face tags, smiley shots and panorama, but it does not have all the top-level Samsung Galaxy S3 phone calls. However, there are many presets and settings for resolution (VGA to 5 megapixel), white balance, measurement and effects, scene modes and self-timer.
The 720p video quality of the phone is equally good. I took my phone outside to CNET’s “Floating Park”, an outdoor event with loud music and great activity. The microphone did a pretty good job of picking up the voice of the topic of my interview, though the music was interfering too. It is also important that the drawing is clear, sharp and even. I didn’t find the trick in any of the test photos, but a well-lit video will surpass most of the night scenes.
The front cameras are good to have, but don’t expect too much from the 1.3 megapixel lens on the face. The photos were acceptable for what they were, and much better than the others I’ve seen, but you won’t create glamor from it.
The 4G relay has 8GB of internal storage and up to 32GB of advanced storage to store your multimedia. To compare other camera phone photos, check out this photo gallery.
The 4G relay has the best call quality I’ve experienced in a long time. I tested a quad band (GSM 850/900/1800/1900 MHz) in San Francisco on the T-Mobile network. The first thing I noticed was that the sound was natural but clear and the line was crystal clear. When my caller stopped talking, I could not be sure that the call was connected because there was no sign of white noise. This is a very good thing. The volume was strong at medium to high levels, and Samsung included in its software audio amplifier if you needed to increase the volume. From time to time, I heard a small distorted pass that would probably flicker. Overall the quality was excellent.
After all, my test partner said that the volume was very loud (“hot”) regardless of my volume, and he preferred to keep the phone slightly out of his ear. However, he also found my voice extremely clear, with no background noise, no muffler, and no objections or distortions. My voice loyalty was high and my subscriber declared the 4G relay among the best he had heard. Quote: “I love this phone!”
Samsung Galaxy S Relay 4G Sample Call QualityListen now:
We went on to test the loudspeaker, for which I kept my torso at the waist level. That’s all there is to be a loudspeaker – clear, loud, natural, with just a hint of a buzzing in your hand and no suggestion of tin. The sound wasn’t as crisp as the phone’s ear, but the quality was impressive. This was also true of my testing partner, who said that my volume had decreased slightly (this is not bad since I came so loud), but my voice was very clear and easy to listen to. Surprisingly, he said that the loudspeaker does not increase the echo.
The 4G relay has a superb dual-core 1.5GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 processor that supports everything that shines. HSPA + T-Mobile’s 4G speed was also good, consistently high in single digits and double digits, but boot time was faster than boot time and never broke through 1 MB per second.
We will continue testing the battery here in San Francisco, but the nominal battery life is promising, offering up to 10 hours of 1800 mAh talk time and up to 13 days of standby time. In lab tests, CNET Relay 4G played 10.6 hours of single-charge video.
The FCC stipulates that cell phones should not emit more than 1.6 watts per kilogram of radiation. The 4G digital SAR relay measures 0.47 watts per kilogram.
As personal as any choice of phone, I think the decision on whether Samsung Galaxy S Relay 4G is right for you will be an equal measure. The keyboard is spacious, but you can only tell if it is right for your hand. I like everything else the phone has to offer, and while it is not a top priority in all areas, there were no major downsides to a phone of this level. Great call quality is not something you see every day, and believe me, a lot of phones cross my desk. Fair price too. If you were selling a QWERTY smartphone, I would definitely choose it T-Mobile MyTouch Q .