By GeoffreyFarinha | January 25, 2011 1:49 PM
The Samsung Transform is a new Android device that combines a touchscreen with a slide-out QWERTY keyboard that looks similar to the high-end Samsung Epic 4G, but has smaller dimensions and less power. It features Android 2.1, an 800MHz CPU, and 256MB of RAM. It also has a new feature called Sprint ID which allows the user to load pre-configured home screens, similar to Scenes for HTC Sense. The question, however, is where in Sprint’s lineup does this device fit? Read on for our full review where we’ll cover hardware, software, speed, and a whole lot more!
Check out our unboxing of the Samsung Transform. Included in the box are the typical USB sync cable and wall adapter. A microSD to SD card converter can be found in the box for use with the 2GB microSD card that is already inserted into the phone.
Let’s dive into the Transform’s specs. The combination of an 800MHz processor and 256MB of RAM keep the Transform from being labeled as one of the higher-end Android devices. However, it’s still fairly smooth to use. There is also 512MB of ROM for onboard application storage, and a microSD slot compatible with up to a 32GB card (a 2GB card is included). With only 512MB available for application storage, you will definitely want to utilize a microSD card for any media storage. There is also the welcome addition of a front-facing camera which complements the 3.2MP primary camera nicely.
The Transform takes most of its design cues from its big brother, the Epic 4G. Thus, if you want, you can call the Transform a mini Epic 4G (minus the 4G capability). The addition of a slide-out full QWERTY keyboard will please anyone who has held back from joining the touchscreen world. The keyboard is metallic gray with recessed keys that resemble a soft-touch or gel-like feeling. Typing both short and long messages on the keyboard was a breeze and offered 100% accuracy.
The 3.5″ capacitive TFT screen allows for easy navigation through the user interface. Of course, the screen technology doesn’t compare to Super AMOLED in terms of contrast and vibrancy. Still, the Transform’s screen looks better than most other 320×480 LCD screens we have used. In terms of responsiveness, we had no problems moving widgets and swiping through screens. There were occasional miss clicks when using the internet browser, but nothing to write home about.
Starting on the right side of the device, we find a dedicated camera button which is always great if you’re looking to open the camera application before that perfect photo moment disappears. Above this are a dedicated voice dial button and the power/lock button. Similar to the dedicated camera key, having a hard voice dial button to press makes initializing a phone call through voice command much easier. Users will no longer have to fish around the UI for the on-screen voice dial shortcut.
At the top of the device we find a mircoUSB port which is complete with Samsung’s new sliding port cover to prevent dust, dirt, or anything else that could damage the port from getting in. Directly next to the Micro USB port there is also 3.5mm headphone jack that is compatible with user-supplied headphones. Lastly, the left side of the device features a volume up/down rocker.
Removing the battery cover will unveil a 1500mAh battery, which Samsung claims to provide six hours of talk time. As mentioned, a 2GB card is supplied and is already pre-installed in the slot here. The Transform is capable of reading up to a 32GB microSD card.
Android is a term that intimidates many average consumers. When they think of an Android handset they think of something that is too complex and is only used by hackers and cell phone experts. Sprint has implemented a user interface feature called Sprint ID on the Transform. Sprint ID is essentially a theme platform that pre-populates each of the homescreens with widgets and app shortcuts. If you’re looking to purchase your first smartphone and don’t want to be overwhelmed, the Transform is a great option because of this. Likewise, if you’re already a smartphone owner, but want to jump into the world of Android, the Transform will make your transition a smooth and simple one. This device currently utilizes Android 2.1. Froyo, or 2.2 may be a possibility in the future, but the upgrade path is in Samsung’s hands. The video below runs through Sprint ID and other core software.
Our second software overview video below compares the software performance on the Samsung Transform to the Epic 4G. The Epic possesses a faster 1GHz processor and more RAM, but is also a much larger device. Despite the internal hardware differences the Transform maintains a decent speed and is able to somewhat hold its own against its big brother. The end results show that from a basic software and navigation standpoint, you can’t go wrong. If you’re a power user however, you may want to check out the Epic 4G simply because of the longevity factor of its faster internals.
The 3MP camera takes very soft pictures with a good amount of noise occurring in low-light situations. Fortunately it does have a flash that provides plenty of power to take pictures in the darkest of places.
The 800MHz processor allows the Transform to perform many of the same tasks as today’s current 1GHz processors. In most cases, tasks just take slightly longer to load, (see our software overview part two video). There were occasional hiccups within applications and browsing the general UI. This generally occurred when attempting to multitask with multiple applications and is caused mostly by the limited amount of RAM.
CALL QUALITY/NETWORK SPEED
Overall call quality over Sprint’s network was very good, and we did not have any dropped calls. Signal strength indoors seemed to be significantly weaker than outdoors. During phone conversations, callers reported that we sounded very clear but somewhat quiet. Also, background noises were significantly isolated. On our end, the person we were talking to also sounded extremely clear with no muffling.
A speed test netted us a result of 670kps download and 575kbps upload over Sprint’s 3G network.
Samsung claims that the Transform will maintain a battery life of six hours talk time and 350 hours stand by time. In our practical day-to-day use tests we found this estimate to be incorrect. If you’re someone who spends a good deal of time on phone calls, you’ll want to keep a car or secondary charger close by just to make it through the day. If you’ll be simply sending text messages all day you should be fine, however once email, web browsing, and application use is factored in you will quickly see intense battery drain. Hopefully this is something that can be remedied in a future software update.
PURCHASING AND AVAILABILITY
The Samsung Transform is currently available from Sprint for $149.99 with a two-year contract.
+ Sprint ID themes
+ Sliding full QWERTY keyboard
+ Front facing camera
+ LED flash
+ Android 2.1 preloaded
- Somewhat slower processor
- Low amount of RAM
- Below average battery life
- Poor quality 3MP camera
- Priced higher than it should be
Sprint currently has a very strong high-end Android offering. Nonetheless there is room for mid-range Android devices to make an appearance, and the Transform fits this niche perfectly. It does suffer from the occasional hiccup or slowdown. This is likely due to the somewhat aging 800MHz processor with the combined low amount of RAM. However, the overall experience is quite enjoyable.
The Transform is a device for almost anyone. If you’re new to Android and are looking for an easy transition, the Sprint ID system will help you cope almost immediately. If you like touchscreens for general navigation but prefer to type on a physical QWERTY keyboard you will be happy. Likewise, if you currently do not have a smartphone and are thinking about making the switch, the Transform is possibly one of the best candidates available, not just on Sprint but on any carrier. Unfortunately, the $150 price tag doesn’t fit, though that could go down in the near future. For $50 more you can pick up an HTC EVO. If the price point were reduced to $100 for the Transform it wou
What we have here is the future of feature phones. The devices that currently sit between dumbphones and smartphones will go away, and devices like the Transform will swoop in to replace them. Instead we will have dumbphones, lower to mid-range smartphones, and high-end power house smartphones. If you’re not a power-user, and don’t mind carrying an extra charger I highly recommend the Samsung Transform.
I give it a 4/5.