Basic tools include a calendar, an alarm clock, notes, a to-do list, a calculator, a tip calculator, a world clock, a converter, and a timer. There's also a stopwatch, an RSS reader, and voice commands.
Text and multimedia messaging are the typical conduits of written communication, but Web mail is also an option. A Social Buzz app connects you to your Facebook, Twitter, and MySpace accounts. You'll also want a data plan to use this app and others, or charges will mount quickly.
T-Mobile's Web2Go browser attends to your Internet needs as best it can, with a customizable, widget-based home page that quickly routes you to the weather, headline news, sports scores, and so on. It's no high-powered browser and it's not meant to be, but it will work in a pinch for visiting sites. In our opinion the widgets work best, or the Google search bar for launching queries. It took about 8 seconds for CNET's Web-optimized site to load over 3G and about 12 seconds to load over EDGE (that's with very sketchily rendered photos in both cases).
Cameras don't always make an appearance on straightforward cell phones like this, but we're very glad to see that the T259 has one. The 2-megapixel lens isn't going to wow anyone with its grainy and dull photos, but the pictures could be worse and the subjects were discernible. The same goes for the quality of the camcorder, especially since 320x240 pixels is the highest of two resolutions.
At least the numerous camera and video settings help boost image quality. There are five shooting modes, four photo resolutions (from 320x240 pixels to 1,600x1,200 pixels), five white-balance settings, five color effects, night mode, a self-timer, and other various options. Camcorder settings are similar, with the exception of the low resolution and the option to limit the video to about 30 seconds for sending as a multimedia message. There's 80MB of internal memory for all that multimedia, and there's that card slot for 32GB expandable memory.
There is one other multimedia option on the T259: the bare-bones MP3 player that can crank out tunes you've installed on your microSD card or stored on the phone. Controls include play, pause, back, and forth. The player displays album art when available. You can rate tracks and add them to a playlist on the fly, plus play the song through a Bluetooth stereo headset. That may be necessary if you don't have a Micro-USB adapter for your headphones. As we mentioned above, you have only the shared jack to use.
Games, wallpaper, ringtones, and other items of customization are available via the T-Mobile Mall, which you can find in the Menu options.
We tested the quad-band (GSM 850/900/1800/1900; GPRS) Samsung T259 in San Francisco using T-Mobile's network. Call quality was impressive on both ends of the line. Voices sounded consistently natural and comfortably loud, perhaps a tad muffled on our end. The call clarity was likewise clear, without any background noise, feedback, or digital distortion during both indoor and outdoor calls. One caller described the T259 as "one of the best-sounding cell phones" he's heard, and mentioned it was clear enough to be a landline. We did experience two dropped calls in low-coverage zones, however, with the error being on our end both times.
Speakerphone was also loud and clear. There were the typical tininess and hollow character you can expect from having a rear-facing speaker spill out into an open area, but we could easily carry on long conversations over the T259's speakerphone.
Samsung T259 call quality sample
The T259 has a rated battery life of 4.5 hours of talk time and 12.5 days of standby time. It has a talk time of 4 hours and 48 minutes in our tests. It has a digital SAR of 0.53 watts per kilogram, according to FCC radiation tests.