Thanks to its foundation on the Google Android OS, the Samsung Behold II starts with a solid base to work from.
On top of this is Samsung’s TouchWiz user interface, which brings widgets and a nifty interactive cube to the table. Samsung has done a solid job of making the two of these work well with each other, but I have to say there’s some room for improvement.
How intuitive you find Android, even with TouchWiz and the excellent notifications feature, will vary depending on your previous mobile experience.
The Behold II has three homescreens you can flip through, and then there’s a pull-out menu with a scrollable list of apps. You can move the icon for any app onto a homescreen to make it easier to use, or put a variety of widgets on these screens, too.
The Behold II is fairly standard when it comes to voice and messaging features. From the homescreen, clicking on the Dialer or Contacts links will initiate the respective calling feature. Clicking on the Call button (not colored green as with other mobiles), will bring up the call log.
Either approach works well. The Contacts application lets you easily see a contact, while hitting a single button initiates a SMS/MMS message or voice call. If you’ve synced the Behold II to your Google Profile, then you gain the ability to email a contact also from that screen. Unfortunately, its only in the Contacts application where you can search for a contact — the Dialer app does not use any kind of smart-dialing logic.
Once on a call, things are standard fare. Calls are generally clear. Even jumping between 2G (EDGE) and 3G (HSPA on T-Mobile) zones during a call, the Behold II performs well.
The speaker phone contains my only grip about the calling features. Finding the speakerphone icon during a call is not obvious, and the quality of the speakerphone varies with how much power remains in the battery. When under 40%, calls were notably more choppy throughout volume ranges. In any case, this was just the experience on my end, callers on the other end always reported that I sounded clear and there was little background noise.
E-Mail, Browser, and More
On the side of application support, the Behold II is no slouch. Aside from the commendable support for downloading software from the Android Market, this smartphone actually comes with plenty of applications.
Add to this the integration with your Google Profile (GMail, Talk, Maps, Latitude, and Voice Search) and you get a very capable device.
Setting up other email accounts besides GMail is doable from a separate application. Same for instant messaging services — served with an IM application.
The WebKit-based web browser, while decent, took me a bit to getting used to. I blame most of that one just the touchscreen itself. Overall, I had no issues with the browser, whether using Wi-Fi or 3G for it. I’m happy to say that 3G moved quite a bit faster than I expected.
The Voice Dialer is simple, but usable with many of my contacts; it’s also able to launch other applications like Calendar and GMail.
On the multimedia side, there a Music Player, photo and video Gallery, Camcorder/Camera, and YouTube Player. These can be displayed on the rotating cube that hallmark of the TouchWiz UI.
I like the integration of the Behold II with the Amazon MP3 store — previewing and purchasing right from the device.
Essentially, multimedia is quite covered, which isn’t surprising, given its target audience.
This Samsung model is focused on consumers, not business users. So while it has some software to make you more productive — like Memo, Task, and a World Clock — it doesn’t come with much in the way of business-related apps. This is where
This is where you can turn to the Android Market. If you want to connect to your company’s Microsoft Exchange server, there’s an app for that. The same goes for working with Microsoft Office files.
GPS applications like Google Maps and TeleNav performed admirably. The Behold II seems to grab near-locks within seconds whether moving or not. A few seconds later the satellites will kick in for a very accurate fix.
It was neat to see the Latitude integration on Google Maps and Voice Search. I can see both getting lots of use for entertainment-like activities. For me, I used it to find places in Charlotte, NC I had not been.
With the exception of a few holes in coverage areas, these services worked quite well. TeleNav even had an OTA upgrade available — yet my device was not able to download this (firmware issue possible).
The camera features are simple and to-the-point. Being able to go between several modes such single, continuous, mosaic, and smile; or the 15 zoom levels are familiar and usable. You can’t tap-to-zoom, as that brings up the settings menus, but the camera does focus pretty well on objects in the 3-6 foot range.
One knock on the camera app, though, that it is slow to open and to process pictures. In general, this slowness is throughout the device, it’s just not hidden as well with the camera functionality.
This Samsung model does very well when it comes to battery life. On average, I charged it every other day. And this is with the device constantly connected to my Google account for email and IM, taking about 20 minutes to 1 hour of calls per day.
Heavier users will resort to charging each night, but even that won’t take long, as the 1350 mAh battery needs only 2 hours to charge from empty. if topping off, expect to be off the charger within the hour.