The Good The Samsung Exhibit 4G is a fast, comfortable Android 2.3 Gingerbread handset with two cameras and a 1GHz processor.
The Bad There is no camera shutter button on the show, and the virtual keyboard will feel tight for some. The lag in the camera software made us miss some good shots.
The Bottom Line The great price makes the Samsung Exhibit 4G a compelling option for Android fans looking for deals without sacrificing features.
Visit for details.
Samsung Exhibit 4G
When operators try to strengthen and expand their 4G networks, better 4G-enabled phones are coming to the market. Samsung Exhibition 4G T-Mobile is the sixth 4G phone for the HSPA + T-Mobile network. Like the T-Mobile Sidekick 4G, the show is a more affordable phone that is still feature rich without relying heavily on your wallet. What helps it stand out is its value for money. In addition to its speed, it runs Android 2.3 Gingerbread, a state-of-the-art Google OS. It has a powerful 1 GHz processor, two cameras, movie rentals, live programming and custom T-Mobile TV.
The exhibition costs only $ 79.99. US after the discount on mail and the new two-year service agreement, and it comes in black and purple. (We covered black here.)
The Samsung Exhibit 4G is a medium-size candy bar phone with rounded corners up top and some interesting angles at the bottom. It stands 4.7 inches tall by 2.3 inches wide by 0.5-inch thick, and it weighs 4.2 ounces. The Exhibit doesn’t look premium, but it is comfortable, thanks to the soft-touch finish on its black or violet back cover, and a similar but more rubbery material surrounding the phone face. Samsung’s characteristic shiny black plastic shows up on the front, spines, and accents. Flip up the Exhibit’s base and you’ll see it’s made of harder plastic with an alligator skin design.
Attractive material that attracts Samsung Exhibit 4G makes it easy to hold and does not blur.
The 3.5-inch touchscreen has a WVGA 480×800 resolution and support of 16 million colors. The screen itself feels nice and smooth and looks bright and colorful until you try to use it in the direct sunlight that washes it. The screen size reaches the bottom of what is considered useful for a smartphone. The introduction of Samsung keyboards and standard Swype keys was closer in portrait mode, and reading websites was not as easy as on a 4-inch screen, but the exhibition was not so fastidious as to render composition and viewing impossible.
Samsung has introduced its special TouchWiz interface at the show. Translation: You get five custom home screens pre-loaded with various widgets, shortcuts and application icons. You can also add two more screens and attach home screens to see thumbnails of all your screens. There are four static on-screen buttons for dialing, address book, text messages and applications. Instead of scrolling vertically as it would on normal Android to view your applications, TouchWiz takes you horizontally. There are also Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS and other controls that can be accessed by using the menu at the top of any home screen.
We are fairly neutral about Samsung’s user interface, as long as it does not interfere with OS updates, as is sometimes the case. Since 4G is already running on the most modern Android operating system today, we have no objections.
Above the screen is a VGA camera lens for self portraits and video chat. At the bottom of the screen are three touch-sensitive LED buttons that correlate with the menu, the back button and the search. To the south of them is the central Home button. Press and hold it to browse the latest applications and access the Task Manager preinstalled application.
The right spine of the phone contains a power button; On the left side of the ridge you will find a volume swing and a microSD card slot. The show comes with a 4GB card pre-loaded and ultimately holds up to 32GB. Above is a micro-USB charging port with hinged plastic doors and a 3.5mm headset jack. The 3MP camera lens and LED flash are located on the back of the phone. Unfortunately, there is no camera shutter button on the show, so you will need to launch the camera and launch the shutter from the OSD.
The Samsung Exhibit may not be the highest-end smartphone, but it is chock full of features and apps. There are all of the usual Android services, like text and multimedia messaging, Wi-Fi, GPS, and Bluetooth support, plus e-mail that can merge your inboxes for Gmail, Web mail, and Exchange. There’s also an accounts system that lets you sync contacts, calendars, and other information with social networks like Facebook, Twitter, and MySpace, but also Qik video chat and photo-sharing services like Flickr and Kodak. Just be forewarned that importing and syncing contacts sometimes results in some informational errors you’ll have to manually correct.
The Swype keyboard helps you to type your fingers clearly on a slightly smaller screen.
There are all Google apps and services here: Gmail, Search, Voice Navigation Maps, Places, Talk, and YouTube. Android Market has a clock, calendar, photo gallery and calculator, as well as thousands of apps – over 200,000. The built-in Android music player is pretty basic fare, and as always, Samsung’s TouchWiz interface puts it into steeper graphics.
T-Mobile and Samsung are crazy about preloading the show with apps that can’t be removed. We will not list them, but we will touch on big questions. First, there is Qik, a Skype-owned video chat application (now owned by Microsoft) that uses the show’s front VGA camera. For media entertainment, there is also Samsung MediaHub, a TV and movie rental portal. T-Mobile also has its own solution: T-Mobile TV is a $ 9.99 per month service for live streaming of custom programs and programs. You have a free 30-day trial to get started.
AllShare is Samsung’s multimedia sharing system for DLNA devices. DriveSmart is your own trade show application that diverts your incoming calls and calls to either a Bluetooth headset or voicemail, sending you notifications that you are traveling and cannot reach your phone. Other T-Mobile services include Wi-Fi calling, visual voicemail and shortcuts to online stores. There are also several productivity apps, a Lookout for mobile protection (a free trial), and a social networking app called Write and Go that lets you update status messages on websites or send them as text. Bejeweled 2 and Scrabble are two built-in smartphone games.
The 3-megapixel camera generally took decent pictures and video, though the software lagged behind and lacked the shutter button.
We were generally pleased with the camera and camcorder, both of which are common Google tools for exposure, white balance, self-timer and work. Although we certainly saw better quality on more premium cameras, the show did a good job taking outdoor photography, and it fought less than other shooters on indoor photos, even if not every indoor shot or night was the largest. Color fidelity typically suffers indoors when images are processed darker and appear less vivid after image processing.
We were amazed that the autofocus was largely able to stabilize a well-lit inside image taken from moving exercise equipment. Our biggest complaint was the lag we found in the camera software. We missed a few variants of shots that were waiting for the shutter to shut.
Watching the video was smooth, with no jerks, even when we walked and filmed. However, we did notice a second of pixelation in one video. The volume was also high and the colors were true, though not surprisingly sharper and brighter for videos recorded on the street. As always, you can use photos on your phone or export videos and images to share via e-mail, messages and social networks.
The show has 512 MB of RAM and a 4GB card installed. It takes up to 32GB of memory.
We tested the quad-band (GSM 850/900/1800/1900; UMTS 1700/2100) on T-Mobile’s network in San Francisco. Call quality was acceptable overall, with strong volume and background clarity on both ends of the line. Voice fidelity was where we differed. On our end, voices sounded warm enough, just not crystal clear; “gauzy” or “foggy” is the best way we can describe it. On their end, callers said we sounded hollow and echoey, and while we didn’t sound robotic, we also didn’t quite sound like ourselves.
Samsung Exhibit 4G call quality sample
The loudspeaker impressed us with the loud volume, although this decreased slightly for our listeners. We heard a faint roar at the time when our bells were talking, and the voices had the typically subtle tone that we always get with this feature. For their part, the subscribers said we sounded clear, without background noise.
4G performance is a topical issue on any 4G phone, and from where we are sitting, the show largely fulfills its promise. The speeds were quite difficult on the HSPA + T-Mobile network, although they never came close to the stated theoretical T-Mobile speeds of 21 Mbps for download and 5.76 Mbps for download. Part of this is that actual speeds vary depending on the network capacity in your location before the network load; that is, how many people are using the data at this time. For us, the San Franciscans, too, are accustomed to moving at lower speeds than our New York counterparts. Our diagnostic tests using the Speedtest.net application follow this trend, averaging 4Mbps to 6Mbps down (7.4Mbps was our maximum) and varying from 0.36 to 1.37Mbps in the test series.
We also conducted routine real-world tests to track diagnostic results. It took about 6-7 seconds and only 20 seconds to fully download the full CNET.com graphic to download the CNET mobile site. The New York Times mobile site loaded in 9 seconds and then only 13 seconds to download completely. Even with the stopwatch turned off, the speed at the show was noticeably faster than your standard 3G phone.
Phone navigation was no problem with the Hummingbird 1GHz Exhibit processor. Again, the only complaint is the delay between tapping the on-screen camera control and image processing software; it was not as immediate an answer as we would have liked.
The exhibition features a 1500 mAh lithium-ion battery and a rated battery life of 6.5 hours talk time and 14.5 days. Keep in mind that high data usage will reduce how many hours your battery lasts during the day, even if you are not a big talker. We checked the talk time 6 hours 18 minutes. FCC tests measured the digital SAR of the exhibit at 0.57 W / kg.
The Samsung Exhibit 4G is quite the package for Android fans minding their budgets. While it isn’t a superpremium Android experience, the specs are strong enough to appeal to first-time and returning Android users, especially those who don’t require an ultralarge screen to satisfy their needs. 4G, Android Gingerbread, that 1GHz processor, and two cameras are a satisfying helping for a smartphone that’s firmly in the sub-$100 space. Samsung gets an extra nod for managing to make an inexpensive handset that doesn’t look and feel like cheap plastic (cough, cough, Nexus S and the entire Samsung Galaxy line). Our complaints on performance, though present and accounted for, are minor–the Exhibit is a fine example of the future of affordable 4G smartphones.