The Samsung Transform is based on an 800 MHz processor, and debuted running Google’s Android OS 2.1 — an upgrade to version 2.2 is scheduled to be out later this year.
Given its processor speed, this device isn’t going to win any races, but it does perform well. I didn’t experience any major slowdowns, and apps loaded within just a few seconds.
The Transform has excellent sound quality, and my test callers were impressed. Even when I was walking down a busy street they didn’t hear any background noise, and both sides of the conversation came through loud and clear.
Signal strength is also quite good, even inside my office, which is typically a dead zone for cellular service no matter the carrier. I had no problem at all making and receiving calls, which was a pleasant surprise.
As a mid-range model, this smartphone comes with 3G cellular-wireless networking, Wi-Fi b/g, and Stereo Bluetooth.
You will get the standard Google apps such as Gmail, Calendar, and Contacts, plus an alarm clock, calculator, Express News (from Handmark) and the web browser.
Express News helps you stay on top of the latest stories and headlines; it isn’t an RSS reader but I found it to be both user friendly and fast. It serves up top stories with one photo each, so you can catch up very quickly–much better than navigating the much busier news site.
The web browsing experience on the Samsung smartphone is good, but not stellar because it’s somewhat slow. I waited quite a while to load the main page for Brighthand, and I experienced the same with several other sites while I was browsing at home and at the office. That rules out a coverage issue, so I suspect that the processor in the Transform is not quite as speedy/powerful as I would like.
The Google Maps Navigation beta is quite nice though, and I really enjoyed using it. You can choose your destination from your contact list, or you can speak it or type it. Directions pop up very fast, and you can choose to add additional layers such as traffic information, gas stations, and the like. You can also choose whether you want to avoid highways or avoid tolls as well. I’m very impressed and can say that this is just about the best navigation experience I’ve had on a smartphone so far. Carrier-sponsored navigation services tend to be kludgey and slow, but this one is powerful, quick, easy to use, and isn’t cluttered up with unnecessary features.
If you’re planning to use the Transform for business, you’ll probably want to add an app for working with Microsoft Office files. This is a situation where the Android market comes in handy. You’ll be able to search for the app you want, purchase it, and download it, right on the device.
Just as in the previous section, there aren’t too many entertainment apps preloaded on the Transform. That’s due partly to SprintID, of course, but it’s also nice not to have bunch of preloaded stuff that you may not want. Aside from the apps that were added as part of the SprintID I chose at startup, Pandora and YouTube were the only ones that were included when I unboxed the phone.
The Pandora streaming music service works perfectly, though I was rather underwhelmed by the external speaker. It’s loud enough, but the sound is rather tinny, no bass at all. The Black-Eyed Peas, normally a groovin’ music experience that usually makes me want to get up and dance, sounded rather flat. The experience is better with headphones, but still not great.
Like all Android OS devices, the Transform comes with a multimedia player. You can store your music and video files on a microSD card, but you’re going to need to supply your own.
The 3.2 megapixel camera is capable of producing some very nice shots under the right conditions — outdoors in bright light, for example. Depending on the situation there are some exposure issues and blown out areas; photos of the dawn sky exhibit a great deal of noise and loss of color differentiation.
The zoom feature isn’t great; under ideal conditions you might get a good shot out of it. Generally speaking you’ll want to just move yourself closer to the action.
The camera is also rather slow to capture a photo, which means that until I realized what was happening, I would actually move the phone before the photo was actually captured, ruining the shot. Results aren’t terrible by any means, but the camera is a disappointment considering that the Transform has so many other good features.
The Transform also comes with a front-facing video camera, so it can do video chatting. In theory, anyway — it isn’t bundled with any software to enable this feature.
I’m impressed by the battery life on this device. I expect that the typical Android phone will go dead very quickly the first day I have it, due to syncing all of the information from my Google account, downloading a bunch of software from the Android Market, and starting to give the phone a really good workout for review purposes. Not this time.
The Transform surprised me by lasting almost four days on the initial charge, which has to be a new personal record for me. I can also get as many as five days of use out of before it goes dead, though if I take a ton of photos that drops down to two or three days.