Mobile : Expert Review: Samsung JetSet™ Cell Phone

THE GOOD: The Samsung JetSet has a simple design with comfortable controls. Call quality is decent, and the feature set includes voice dialing and stereo Bluetooth.

THE BAD: The Samsung JetSet has poor photo quality and a 2.5-millimeter headset jack. Speakerphone volume is too low.

THE BOTTOM LINE: We wouldn't call the Samsung JetSet a "full-fledged music phone," but if you're looking for a functional handset that makes calls and plays tunes on the side then it's not a bad choice.

Since we're new to reviewing Cricket phones, we wanted to seek out handsets that were unique to the carrier and were about more than just making calls. The Motorola Hint QA30 was one such model, and the Samsung JetSet falls into that camp as well. Also called the SCH-r510, the JetSet looks like an ordinary flip phone, but it adds external controls for the music player. You can get it for $129.99 with a rebate. Though that may seem expensive, keep in mind that Cricket does not require contracts.

The Samsung JetSet doesn't offer any design elements that we haven't seen before. Its black color scheme, compact dimensions (3.64 inches by 1.85 inches by 0.69 inch; 3.32 ounces) and simple lines are standard Samsung. The phone has a plastic casing, but it feels comfortable in the hand and the hinge is sturdy. It also travels well.

The postage stamp external display supports 65,000 colors (96×96 pixels). It shows all important information including the date, time, battery life, signal strength, and numeric caller ID. It also shows photo caller ID and you can use it as a viewfinder for the camera lens. You also can add wallpaper and adjust the contrast. Below the display are touch controls for activating the music player and playing your tunes without opening the phone.

The 2.1-inch internal display supports 262,000 colors (32×240 pixels). It's pretty appealing for a phone of this caliber–colors are bright and vibrant, and graphics and photos are sharp. The menu interface is easy to use in either the list or icon style. You can change the backlighting of the display and you can adjust the dialing font color and size.

The navigation array is quite spacious. You'll find a circular toggle with a central OK button, two soft keys, a clear button, and the Talk and End/power controls. The controls are flush and somewhat slippery, but we didn't have many problems because the array is so big. The toggle has a very slight ridge surrounding it, but you barely feel it; it doubles as a shortcut to four features.

The keypad buttons have a similar story: they're flat and slippery, but their large size made up for the deficiencies. We could dial and text quickly, and the backlighting helps in dim situations. Dialing by feel takes practice, but you should get the hang of it. Our only concern is over the long-term durability of the keys. They're made of plastic so we'd be interested to see how they hold up after a year of heavy use.

A few features complete the exterior of the JetSet. On the left spine are a volume rocker and the microSD card slot. The rocker is easy to find when you're on a call and we appreciate that Samsung didn't stash the card slot behind the battery. On the left spine you'll find a camera shutter/handset locking key, a headset jack, and a charger port. Unfortunately, the charger port is proprietary and the charger jack is 2.5-millimeter.

The JetSet has a 500-contact phone book with room in each entry for five phone numbers and two e-mail addresses. You can save callers to groups and pair them with a photo and one of five polyphonic ringtones (that's a pretty lean selection). Other essentials include a vibrate mode, a speakerphone, and text and multimedia messaging.

The personal organizer offers a calendar, a memo pad, an alarm clock, a world clock, a calculator, a unit and currency converter, a stopwatch, and a tip calculator. You also get voice dialing, a voice recorder, and stereo Bluetooth.

The JetSet does not offer a flash with its camera.

The 2-megapixel camera takes pictures in six resolutions, from 1,600×1,200 pixels down to a special size for picture ID. Other options include a night mode, a self-timer, adjustable brightness, four white settings, five color effects, three quality settings, an adjustable ISO, exposure meeting, and five shutter sounds, plus a silent option. The JetSet doesn't have a flash.

The JetSet had mediocre photo quality.

The camcorder shoots clips in two lengths. Videos meant for multimedia messages are capped at 15 seconds, but you can shoot for longer in normal mode. Editing options for the camera are similar to the still camera, though a bit smaller. The handset offers a respectable 53MB of internal storage. For more space, you can use a microSD card; the slot will accommodate cards up to 16GB. Photo quality was mostly poor for a 2-megapixel shooter. Many of our images were dark and blurry around the edges.

The music player is pretty simple, but it offers a fair number of features. You'll find playlists, an equalizer, and repeat and shuffle modes. Adding music to the phone is easy with either a USB cable or memory card. Tunes over the external speaker were unexceptional–headphones will offer a better experience.

You can personalize the JetSet with a variety of wallpapers, clock formats, themes, and banners. More options, and additional ringtones, are available from Cricket through the WAP 2.0 Web browser. The JetSet doesn't come with any games or applications, but you can buy them from Cricket.

We tested the dual-band (CDMA 800/1900) JetSet in San Francisco. Since the Bay Area isn't part of Cricket's home coverage area, we made calls using the carrier's roaming network. Call quality was good overall. We noticed an improvement over the Motorola Hint, both in the strength of the signal and in the quality of voices. However, the JetSet's volume level wasn't quite as loud as on the Moto phone, but it provided a better overall experience.

On their end, callers said we sounded fine. They could tell that we were using a cell phone, but they didn't report any problems beyond some background noise. It wasn't a deal breaker, they said, and automated calling systems could understand us. Speakerphone quality was decent enough, but the volume level was much too low.

The JetSet is equipped for 3G (EV-DO) networks, which Cricket operates throughout its home network. We weren't able to test it since we were roaming.

The JetSet has a rated battery life of 3.5 hours talk time and 10.4 days standby time. We had a tested talk time of 3 hours and 27 minutes. According to FCC radiation tests, the JetSet has a digital SAR of 1.05 watts per kilogram.

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