Messaging phones are the hot trend right now. We saw at least half a dozen QWERTY handsets debut at CTIA 2009, one of which was the Samsung Magnet for AT&T. The Magnet offers a nice alternative to the recent slider messaging phones from the carrier, such as the Pantech Matrix and the Samsung Propel, with its slim candy bar design. It has a full QWERTY keyboard, which will be put to good use with the handset's support for multiple e-mail accounts and instant messaging apps. The rest of the phone's feature set is pretty simple, and though its camera isn't as good as the similar-looking Pantech Slate, the Samsung Magnet provides excellent call quality and an extremely attractive price of $19.99 with a two-year contract. It's a good fit for those who don't need all the bells and whistles and just want a basic messaging phone that won't break bank.
Unlike Samsung's recent messaging phones, like the Samsung Impression and the Messager, the Samsung Magnet forgoes the slider design and goes for a more straightforward candy bar chassis. However, don't mistake straightforward for boring. The Magnet is quite eye-catching with its orange color and slim profile. The handset measures 4.2 inches tall by 2.3 inches wide by 0.4 inch thick and weighs 3 ounces, and it has a nice, solid construction. The back of the phone also includes a patterned soft-touch finish to give it a nonslippery texture.
The Magnet's display certainly doesn't attract big praises. The 64,000-color, 2.2-inch TFT display is bright enough, but with a 176x220-pixel resolution, it isn't the sharpest. Text has some slight fuzziness around the edges and pixels are visible in pictures. That said, everything was still readable and it's on par with other lower-end handsets. The user interface is basic and easy to use. You can choose from various menu styles and themes and change the wallpaper and backlight times.
Below the display, you have a navigation array of two soft keys, Talk and End buttons, a Back and Clear button, a message shortcut, and a four-way directional keypad with a center select key. The outer controls (soft keys and Talk and End buttons) are spacious but we had some problem with the center set since they were a bit cramped. Sometimes we'd accidentally hit the End key when trying to press the back button, or we'd end up hitting some letter keys when trying to press the down button.
The full QWERTY keyboard is quite decent. The shape of the keys are a little reminiscent of the BlackBerry Bold's: rectangular with a slight bump to make them easier to press. They are a good size but just a little stiff to press, which slowed us down a bit but nothing horrible. The number keys are highlighted in orange and the bottom row includes shortcuts to the camera, instant messaging, and games and applications.