The Samsung T401g debuted last week for Net10, showing up in a seemingly limited selection of Kmart stores at a retail price of $79.99. At the time of this writing (October 19th), the phone is not available for purchase from Net10′s website. However I expect that by the end of the month it will be, if the rollout timeline of previous models is any indication. When it does show up for sale on Net10′s site, customers will be able to save $8 using the Net10 promotional code discounts found here.
I would expect that it will begin showing up soon in other stores as well. For now, though, the T401g has been very hard to find – appearing in some, but not all, Kmart stores. It seems likely that Net10 will want this model more widely available as we get deeper into the Holiday shopping season, however.
There’s also not any concrete indication at this point that the model will be available to TracFone users. Of course, if a TracFone Samsung T401g does show up, I’ll let you know about it with a post to this blog.
Now let’s get to the phone itself: It’s a GSM phone, and has a side-slider with a qwerty keyboard on the slide-out portion. The front of the phone also includes a standard numeric keypad.
The phone weighs in at a fairly heavy 4.4 ounces, and measures 4.4″ long, 2.0″ wide and 0.7” thick. This is rather bulky compared to any new phones released in recent years.
But when it comes to features, the T401g has most of the things we have been hoping for:
- qwerty keyboard
- unrestricted bluetooth – transfer files between compatible devices and play stereo music from the mp3 player, as well as for voice calls
- 1.3 megapixel camera
- video camera (no, that’s not a typo – it actually has the capacity to record video)
- mp3 player
- expansion memory slot – microSD for storing pics, videos and mp3s
- and something that’s big for Net10 users – text messaging costs just .3 units per message, instead of the usual .5 units for Net10 phones. (At least, that’s what the packaging advertises. In my actual experience, I was charged .5 units per message. I’ve inquired with Elston in the tech support department to see what the problem is.)
- hands-free speaker phone
- web browser (though still limited to Trac/Net10′s mobile web – so it’s not everything we’ve been asking for)
- voice recorder
The appearance is a little blocky or chunky compared with the other phones we’ve seen for Trac/Net10 lately, but then it has a full qwerty keyboard to pack on as well as the hardware for video capture, so I guess that’s understandable.
On the plus side, there is no Net10 labeling whatsoever – just ‘Samsung’ imprinted on the front, below the screen, and on the back. The home screen, of course, can be customized to remove the mention of units and days remaining, so without exploring the menus an observer would have no way of knowing this is a prepaid phone.
All of the surfaces on the T401g are dark and glossy and the device feels sleek in my hand. As stated above, the phone is rather heavy, but an advantage of that is that it feels solid and durable. Only time will tell, of course, how it’s going to stand up, but it seems like it will have a good useful life.
The phone is a little larger than what I’m accustomed to, as I ported my number to the T401g from my LG 600g, which is one of the lightest, smallest TracFones ever made. So it has taken some getting used to as I carry the Samsung in my pants pocket. I was definitely aware of its presence at first. Though I have gotten used to it over the last several days, I’d imagine it would be hard to lose even in a purse or deep coat pocket. If you like tiny, lightweight phones, though, you’ll likely be disappointed with this one.
General Phone Function
The general phone function on this model is above average. An interesting thing I’ve noticed is that the T401g seems to be able to make calls just about anywhere. It compares favorably to the EM326g, where several times I’ve had the problem of attempting to make a call with 1 or 2 bars, only to receive the message “call failed” and see the signal meter reset to zero. I guess it’s kind of a game that some manufacturers play – sometimes a phone will show 1-2 bars of reception, yet not be able to connect a call.
The Samsung T401g is just the opposite – I found a couple of areas, such as in the bottom level of a parking ramp, where the phone showed no signal. However, I was able to connect a call and it sounded just fine. Compare this to the EM326g,
The voice quality is similar to the earlier Samsung T301g or the LG 600g – good, but not great. It definitely does not sound as clear to me as the recent Motorola devices for TracFone and Net10, which are the best-sounding phones I’ve ever used.
The volume was good through the standard ear piece, as well as through the speaker phone setting. However, while using the speaker phone I did notice some distortion – while the other party was still understandable, it was somewhat garbled. This could pose a problem in noisy situations or for those with hearing impairments. That being said, I personally did not have a problem using the phone while riding in a car at highway speeds.
One of the biggest surprises for me so far has been the battery life – it’s been great for a device with so many features. I bought the phone on a Tuesday night and the battery was partially charged when I opened the package. I then charged it fully on Wednesday afternoon as I began to test it out.
During the following days, I used up 15 minutes of talk time and sent and received maybe a dozen text messages. I also had the bluetooth (inadvertently) turned on for at least 24 hours, and spent time taking pictures and video as well as navigating the menus and playing games. The phone did not run out of battery until a full five days later. This compares favorably to the Motorola EM326g and w376g as well as the LG 600g, all of which have shorter battery lives.
Admittedly, I have not yet used the mp3 player to any great extent, other than to make sure it works. When I do test that function, I’ll report on it’s effects on battery life.
I’ll also be reporting on a lot more in future installments of this review. I’ll have the next segment up on Wednesday at the latest, and hopefully complete the review by the end of the week.
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