First, I have to apologize for not getting this review going last week as I had promised. A mysterious illness, quite possibly the infamous H1N1, knocked my family and me out last week, so I didn’t have the time or energy to review the phone. We’re getting over it now, though, and hopefully I’ll be able to stay healthy and soon be able to complete this review as well as a few other informative posts and a bonus code update. I’ll also wade through the accumulated comments and attempt to respond to them sometime later this week.
I also wanted to briefly point out a deal that came to me in my email this week. I have NOT personally tried these items, but buy.com has a couple of deals that help you make the most of your phone. They are offering an 8GB microSD HC card for 16.95, and a Samsung Bluetooth Headset for $5.99 after rebate. Both items ship free. Once again, this is not an endorsement as I have not used either item.
Now, on to the review:
Samsung r451c Review
The Samsung r451c is the newest offering from both Net10 and Straight Talk. It is currently offered for $99.99 from Straight Talk’s site. It’s also on Net10’s site, where you can get it for $71.99 if you use the discounts I recommend here: Net10 Promotional Codes.*** It is a CDMA model, meaning it uses the Verizon and Alltel networks, among other regional networks. The phone design incorporates a slide-siding QWERTY keyboard, which is perhaps the biggest draw of this model.
The r451 is a rather hefty device, tipping the scales at 4.6 ounces (.2 ounces heavier than the T401g) and measuring 4.4” x 2.0” x 0.7” (H x W x D). It’s also robust in terms of the features offered: the afore-mentioned QWERTY keyboard, 1.3 megapixel camera, mp3 player, bluetooth (unrestricted), microSD memory slot, voice dialing, speakerphone, web browser, voice recorder and the standard suite of organizational tools. Further, the Net10 version offers a lower rate for text messages, charging just .3 units per message as compared to the standard .5 units deducted on other Net10 handsets.
*** I know people are wondering about this, but I have NOT heard of any evidence that we will see the Samsung r451c for TracFone any time soon, if at all. If TracFone does come out with this or the other recent Samsung (T401g), it would be big news and I would post about it here immediately.
The appearance is rather big and blocky compared to other recent phones, but not outdated. I guess it probably blends in well with the wide range of smart- and feature-phones that everybody has these days. Aside from the “Samsung” logo in two places (front and back), there is no other branding on the r451c. This is in contrast to older phones, which often had “TracFone” or “Net10” prominently displayed somewhere on the device.
I am using the Straight Talk version of this model, but I’ve confirmed that the Net10 version is similarly free of any branding. Further, on that Net10 version, it is possible to remove any Net10 evidence from the main menu screen as well.
Similar to the T401g, the external surfaces are black and glossy. On close inspection the glossy finish makes the r451c susceptible to all kinds of smudges and fingerprints. It’s not a problem for me, but might bother some.
It’s very similar in most design aspects to the T401g, but the keypad is slightly different. The r451c has separate keys for each number on the numeric keypad, whereas the T401g has a one-piece rubbery plastic keypad with raised bumps for each individual key. I slightly prefer the T401g both in terms of functionality and appearance, but it’s a close call.
The r451c also has a metallic band across the front middle of the phone, housing the soft keys, directional keypad, and separate keys for the speaker phone and “clear” button. I don’t personally care for the appearance of this band, plus there’s a slight gap between the upper half of the phone and the metallic band. This gap seems to attract small dust particles, further making it unappealing to me.
Superficial factors aside, the construction seems solid. The slider mechanism works well, with a solid click into place in either the open or closed position. As far as I can tell after just a few days of handling this phone, it seems like it is durable and will last a long time.
I’ve also made it my tradition to report on how well phones slide in and out of a pocket, as that’s where many people carry phones these days. The r451c, like the T401g, is rather bulky compared to any other phones I’ve tested recently, so it is more difficult to carry in a pants pocket than those slimmer models. Further, the r451c is just slightly more squarish corners than the T401g, further hindering placement into a pocket.
General Phone Function
I haven’t had the opportunity yet to compare the r451 to other CDMA handsets with respect to signal reception in weak coverage areas, but in my home area it seems to be on par with other models. Specifically, I’ve compared it to the recent round of LG phones for Net10 and TracFone, and so far I haven’t found any notable differences. I will be traveling later this month, though, and if I notice any differences during those travels, I’ll be sure to report my findings on this blog.
The call quality disappointed me somewhat. The r451c seems ‘noisy’ to me. Speech from the other party is not necessarily distorted, but sounds like there are some extra sounds being added behind the speech. It sounds as if the person on the other end is speaking in a noisy room, or perhaps outdoors on a breezy day. That being said, it’s not unacceptable; just not perfectly clear.
The other parties to my test calls also reported acceptable but not great audio.
In my testing, the audio quality on the r451c fell short of the Samsung T401g, LG 290c or 220c, and Motorola EM326g. All of these models are similarly priced and available on either Straight Talk or Net10, so if you’re considering the r451c I’d also take a close look at those models.
As I said above, the phone DOES have a hands-free speaker option, although I was also very disappointed with the audio quality on this setting. It’s not inaudible, but it was pretty bad – noisy and somewhat distorted. Here again, the four models I mentioned above won out in terms of audio quality.
The ringtones on the r451c were fairly loud, but not as loud as the T401g or LG 290c. The 451c has only 11 pre-loaded ringtones, including the “beep once” setting as well as two “alert” tones.
I also noted that the ringer, regardless of what the volume is set at, starts at a lower volume and progressively gets louder, up to the specified volume level. I’ve never liked this type of escalating ringtone – I’d prefer to have it loud right off the bat so I have fair warning to answer my phone in time before it goes to voice mail.
Another complaint I have is that the “vibrate” function can be activated only when the ringtone volume is silent, or on high. I like to have the option of adding the vibrate function to any ringer volume.
On the plus side, this phone at least allows separate ringtones to be assigned to each contact on your list, or to groups of contacts.
Another positive, and a big one at that, is the battery life. I did a fair amount of talking on this phone (probably 90 minutes), a little web browsing, and my usual menu exploration, and the battery is still showing two bars out of five after four days. I haven’t done a lot of testing with the music player, which may prove to drain the battery, but I think the four+ days I’ve gotten are great on a model with all these features.
Well, that’s all for now. I’ll keep working on this review and get more posted throughout this week (assuming my family and I can stay healthy). As usual, I suggest you subscribe to my blog to receive email updates, and/or check out the Samsung r451c review index page for more content as it is posted.
If you want to post comments or ask questions about the Samsung r451c, please do so on the review summary page.