T-Mobile Samsung Blast Reviewed

Pretty on the outside like a fresh Apple mixed with tar

Samsung has come a long way since it started manufacturing cellphones. Over the past two years, I’ve seen a lot of great phones appear with the SAMSUNG logo plastered on the front of each device. But lately, Samsung hasn’t been doing much to impress. Repetition and competition are key points to blame when it comes to figuring out the dullness in these phones. Companies like Sony-Ericsson and Nokia are beefing up the features and charging a lot more cash for their phones. Is Samsung doing enough to keep up? Is the Blast the adrenaline shot it needs to revitalize itself? Perhaps.

The Blast sure is a purty phone. Unpacking it doesn’t yield anything particularly special, but the crimson red backing and black front look great from any angle. In your hands, the Blast feels like a solid phone. A real piece of work if you will. You’d be pretty happy if someone gave it to you. You can even power it on and the UI looks familiar, yet polished. Easy to use, great apps, and loads of features. All that’s left to do is slide the phone open so you can place a call…

Are you serious??

DAMN SAMSUNG! What the hell were you guys smoking? Crackberries laced with embalming fluid? See, the Samsung Blast features a keypad similar to that of a Blackberry Pearl. You know, the keypad where each key is assigned two different letters and you double tap. It’s supposed to be easier to use but not in this case. Talk about a true pain in the ass. It took me over three minutes to send a text message to my roommate. Not cool, especially for Samsung.

Samsung is banking on the hope that this new keypad will be what you’ve always wanted. Now you can send text messages and IMs to your friends quickly and efficiently! Yeah right. I can spew out that same text that took me three minutes in 10 seconds on my RAZR. Alright so you get it. The keypad sucks. What about the other features?

I’d say the Blast’s features are a bit recycled. First off, the phone only has a 1.3-megapixel camera and it’s way bigger than the old school T809. That had a 1.3-megapixel camera in it, so why doesn’t this have a 2-megapixel sensor? It makes no sense. If Nokia is shoving a 5-megapixel camera in some phones and Sony-Ericsson is following suit, why wouldn’t you up the ante as well? Maybe Samsung has some beef with T-Mobile at the moment. Who knows. The camera does get the job done though. Here’s a photo I took with it (below). You be the judge.

Not bad, but nothing to write home about

Samsung’s UI has always been great. I’d say it’s probably my favorite UI on a cellphone. Pleasing on the eyes, responsive and quick, and simple. Navigating isn’t a problem and unless you lost your fingers while mountain climbing, I doubt you’ll have any problems using the Blast. The IM client features Yahoo!, ICQ, MSN, and AIM – all the popular services. I tried out AIM on the device and like how fast it is. It’s almost good enough to leave the laptop or Sidekick 3 at home, but not quite. The keypad sucks too much, so I’d suggest bringing your arsenal of gadgets with you during travel.

Also features on the Blast is a built-in media player. It does videos and music fine and there’s not much to complain about. Load up your MP3s or AACs on a 2GB microSD card and go to town. You should be used to this by now. Same deal with every other phone on the market. Only issue I have is that Samsung and T-Mobile don’t include a wired set of headphones. Guess your music library isn’t of much use now!

So by now you’re probably thinking, “Alright, sounds like a cool-looking phone with a crappy keypad and mediocre features. I give up. How’s the reception at least?” Well I’m glad you asked! This phone features quad-band GSM, so reception is lovely wherever you are. Around NYC it works fantastic and calls are loud and clear. I noticed walking to the subway, there wasn’t a ton of background noise interrupting my conversation. In the words of Bill & Ted: Excellent!

Overall, I’d say the Samsung Blast is worthy of a trial. I’m sure after a few weeks of use, you’ll pick up the new keypad design just fine. T-Mobile lets you try out phones risk-free for two weeks, so I highly recommend giving the Blast a whirl. If you want a pretty looking phone with good reception, then I’d definitely say pick one up. For $99 it’s not a bad deal, but if you have the cash, look around a bit more or wait for other phones to come around.