Verizon Samsung Saga

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INTRODUCTION


    The Verizon Samsung Saga (a close cousin to the Samsung Epix on AT&T) is billed as a “Global Smartphone,” ready for
overseas use (with the appropriate account activations). Though we weren’t able to
book a trip to Europe for the purpose of our review, we can take a look at the
features packed into the Saga so you can see how well it might suit your travel needs.

WHAT’S HOT

   Let’s do a rundown of specs. The Samsung Saga is running on Windows Mobile 6.1 Professional. It’s using a Qualcomm MSM7500 CPU clocking in at 400MHz, and includes 128MB of RAM and 256MB of ROM. The touchscreen is 2.55" and has a resolution of 320×320, making for a pixel density of 177ppi (compared to 285ppi on the Touch Diamond/Pro and 164ppi on the iPhone). It’s a CDMA phone with quadband (850/900/1800/1900) GSM for use as a world phone, plus EV-DO Rev A for high speed data. It has aGPS (which is unfortunately locked down to third party apps), WiFi (b & g), Bluetooth 2.0, a proprietary jack for audio, charging and syncing, and microSD expansion, plus an optical cursor like the Samsung Omnia. The camera on the back is 1.9MP and it comes without a flash. Powering the entire unit is a 1300mAh battery. For even more specs, check out PDAdb.net.

Device
Size (inches)
Weight (grams | ounces)
4.44" x 2.47" x 0.52"

132 | 4.65
4.44" x 2.27" x 0.63"

156 | 5.61
4.74" x 2.63" x 0.43"

157 | 5.53
4.33" x 2.09" x 0.59"

117 | 4.12
4.66" x 2.48" x 0.47"

130 | 4.58
4.56" x 2.33" x 0.67"

188 | 6.63
4.64" x 2.36" x 0.48"

129 | 4.55
3.96" x 2.34" x 0.67"

133 | 4.76
4.68" x 2.44" x 0.67"

188 | 6.63
4.58" x 2.42" x 0.47"

120 | 4.20
4.56" x 2.33" x 0.65"

178 | 6.28
3.92" x 2.41" x 0.60"

137 | 4.83
4.24" x 2.09" x 0.53"

117 | 4.12
4.17" x 2.00" x 0.85"

151 | 5.34
4.41" x 2.24" x 0.49"

122 | 4.30
4.57" x 1.70" x 0.64"

140 | 4.94
4.88" x 2.44" x 0.53"

130 | 4.56
4.21" x 2.20" x 0.55"

120 | 4.20
4.53" x 2.47" x 0.47"

146 | 5.15
4.63" x 2.19" x 0.67"

158 | 5.57
4.35" x 2.07" x 0.67"

158 | 5.57
4.56" x 2.41" x 0.51"

125 | 4.41
4.44" x 2.36" x 0.55"

133 | 4.69
4.01" x 1.98" x 0.55"

124 | 4.37
8.28" x 4.67" x 1.08"

640 | 22.5
4.48" x 2.52" x 0.59"

154 | 5.43
4.17" x 2.38" x 0.68"

147 | 5.18
4.01" x 2.00" x 0.71"

165 | 5.82
4.41" x 2.24" x 0.49"

122 | 4.30
4.41" x 2.28" x 0.73"

140 | 4.94
4.01" x 2.00" x 0.45"

110 | 3.88
4.56" x 2.36" x 0.70"
200 | 7.05
4.30" x 2.40" x 0.60"
120 | 4.23
4.20" x 2.30" x 0.60"
136 | 4.79
3.70" x 2.30" x 0.60"
126 | 4.44
4.48" x 2.39" x 0.51"
116 | 4.09
4.60" x 2.60" x 0.50"

134 | 4.70

4.10" x 2.10" x 0.60"
150 | 5.30
4.40" x 2.32" x 0.75"
190 | 6.70

WHAT’S IN THE BOX

    The Samsung Saga includes a US power adapter
with conversion adapters for Australia, Europe and the UK. Also
included is a USB adapter for charging/syncing with a desktop or
laptop computer.

    Three CDs are also included in the package:
VA Access Manager (for providing internet access to a personal
computer), an electronic version of the user manual, and a Getting
Started CD (including ActiveSync and Windows Mobile Device Center).




   
You can check out our unboxing video for a better
look at the contents.

THE DEVICE

The use of blue metallic may not work for everyone. The keyboard has good spacing between keys and they are
raised enough to easily distinguish between them when typing.

Here on the back we get a view of the 1.9MP camera in a raised area, a self-portrait mirror, and speakerphone.

Moving around the device, the left side has the button to switch between "Mouse Mode" and "Navigation Mode".  Above that button is the volume rocker. 

On the right side is the Samsung USB/charging port, the camera button and the reset button.

On the top is the stylus, the headphone jack, and the power button. 


Here’s a hardware tour of the Saga.

   
    The biggest draw for the Saga for business users is most likely its dual
network capability. The Saga can be configured to work on Verizon’s CDMA
network in the US, or GSM networks overseas. A few clicks and a reboot is
all that’s needed to change networks.


    The 256MB ROM includes Windows Mobile 6.1 and Microsoft
Office Mobile. With 128MB RAM, you should have adequate memory to install and run
several applications at once. A microSD memory slot allows for up to 16GB of
additional memory storage.

    A D-pad is not provided on the Saga, but either the optical
mouse or the retractable stylus can be used for navigation. Using the mouse
may take some getting used to, but it does provide a natural migration between
desktop and mobile phone.

    The only time I really missed the D-pad was when I was typing
a note or e-mail and wanted to relocate the cursor. Positioning the optical mouse
and clicking was not quite as convenient as using a D-pad, but of course you can turn off the cursor function.

Here we compare the Samsung Saga with the BlackBerry Flip and T-Mobile Wing. Because of the keyboard up front, the Saga is quite tall.

Here they are, stacked.

Click on to continue with software…


SOFTWARE


   
The Today screen on the Saga maintains the common Windows Mobile
design, with no fancy 3D interface used like TouchFLO 3D or Spb Mobile Shell. A large clock display makes it easy to see the current time. Below the
clock, you can customize groups of Connections, Favorites, Contacts and Settings.
These groups provide quick access to your most commonly used features with just
a couple of screen taps.

If you prefer something a little different, you can enable the
Samsung Today screen as an alternative which presents an icon-based interface.

The phone application allows some minor color customizations,
but it also allows for the Talk and End buttons to be conveniently moved to either
the left or right side of the screen.

    The Fn-key on the keyboard can be programmed to provide quick
access to any applications installed on the phone. I found this to be a nice
alternative to switching back to the Today screen or navigating through the
Programs folder to start an application.

If you use the Saga for listening to music or watching videos,
the included R2VS software will allow you to simulate 3D or Dolby 5.1 sound.

    For those who do travel overseas and find themselves needing
to deal with metric conversions, the Smart Converter application can provide some
assistance converting weights, measures, and temperatures from one measurement
system to another.

A Tip Calculator will also help you quickly figure the tip on
a bill and split it among a group of colleagues.

    When moving between time zones, the World Clock will help you
keep track of the local time back home or at a remote office.

    Finally, the Saga provides a nice upgrade to the standard
alarms that are part of Windows Mobile. Rather than being limited to three
alarms, you can configure numerous alarms and enable or disable them as necessary.


   

Here we have a more detailed tour of the software on the Saga.

    The most notable software addition on the Saga is the inclusion
of the Opera Mobile web browser. The Opera browser is a significant improvement over
Microsoft’s Internet Explorer browser that comes as a standard part of Windows Mobile.
A search of the pocketnow.com website will link you to several articles on Opera Mobile.

Click on to the last page as we wrap things up and give you our overall take on the Samsung Saga!


BENCHMARKS

    Spb Benchmark has been used to compare Saga performance with a few other devices.

    The Samsung Saga is not a blazingly fast device, but it is
a fairly decent performer given that it does not run a complex 3D user interface.
I found the Saga to be adequately responsive during testing without any
annoying delays switching between applications.

BATTERY

    Though it sports a 1300 mAh battery, the battery life on the Saga
fell a bit on the short side. During testing, a single charge lasted roughly 36-40
hours under very light use (no Bluetooth, no WiFi, and a few short phone calls). I would
have at least expected a good 2 to 3 days of battery life under such conditions.
Verizon advertises 300 minutes of usage time and 325 hours standby time. Unless you
disable all the features except the phone, I don’t think you’re going to see anything
close to 325 hours of standby time.

BUGS AND WISHES


    A solid two to three days of standby time would be my
greatest wish for the Saga. I typically charge my phone at night, but this
would allow me not to worry on those occasions when I forget to plug-in
at the end of the day. This phone is targeted at the business user, and most business users require a lot of battery life.

    Also, what’s with the blue metallic paint? Though it’s inde ed…unique…it’s not terribly attractive and is reminiscent of a toddler’s toy. Why not black? Everyone can deal with black.

    After adjusting to it, the optical mouse can provide a
nice transition from using Windows on a desktop or laptop, but I find that
I prefer using a D-pad to scroll through messages or move the cursor when
editing text.

    Since the headphone adapter does not receive a 3.5mm plug,
I would have liked to see a pair of headphones included in the box. We don’t like proprietary connectors.

    Though it should be remedied soon, having the GPS opened up
to third party applications would make this a more competitive device in the
marketplace.

PURCHASING

    The Samsung Saga is
available from Wirefly for about $100.

PROS


  • World-phone capable

  • Great one-handed usability

  • Includes Opera Mobile web browser

  • Programmable function keys

  • Easy-to-use QWERTY keyboard

  • Includes overseas power adapters

CONS


  • Short battery life (36-40 hours)


  • No camera flash

  • Blue metallic paint may not appeal to everyone

  • GPS currently locked from third-party applications


  • Proprietary USB/charging port


  • Non-standard headphone jack, headphones not included

Value
Ease
of Use
Features

Overall

OVERALL IMPRESSION

    The Samsung Saga is a decent, no frills phone for the business
user that needs to travel overseas. Though it doesn’t include a lot of
slick new features, it does include a few additions that make international
travel a bit more convenient. The biggest drawback is the Saga’s battery
life, which will require at least daily charging (perhaps more if you
are a heavy Bluetooth or WiFi user). If you are in need of a phone that
will work on GSM networks while traveling, you should at least give the Saga a look, but
if you can stay on Verizon’s CDMA network in the US you will probably find
other phones that will give you better battery performance than the Saga, like the Touch Pro or Omnia. To see all of Verizon’s choices (updated January 2009), check out our article: Windows Mobile Devices on the Carriers.

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