Every carrier needs a good flip phone on its roster, and for T-Mobile, the Samsung T259 fits the bill. This 3G world phone resembles its clamshell cousins on other carriers, like the Samsung Contour and the Samsung SPH-M360, but with an edgier, sharper design that compromises comfort somewhat. Call quality is excellent, however, and the speakerphone is pleasantly loud. There are enough software features to satisfy those looking for a simple phone with one or two extras, but there is a design flaw--a shared headset and Micro-USB jack that Samsung should have addressed better on a phone with a music player. However, the requirement for an adapter isn't enough to put us off the affordable handset. Indeed, $29.99 after an instant rebate is a great price for this reliable communicator.
Blockier and less streamlined than the Samsung Contour, the T259 flip phone is still portable. Surfaces are a glossy, midnight-blue plastic of the smudge-prone variety. The phone is also mostly comfortable to hold--the one exception being the flip-up face. Its two squared edges clash with the rest of the phone's rounded corners and lines, and make the T259 feel unfinished. Beyond that, the T259's dimensions are right at 3.9 inches tall, 1.9 inches wide, and 0.7-inch thick. It weighs 3.3 ounces.
On the phone's front is a 2-megapixel camera that doubles as a camcorder. There's also a 1.3-inch external CSTN display with a 128x128-pixel resolution. You can swap the wallpaper to show either a clock or an image. If you choose a digital clock style, you'll also see information like the date, signal strength, and a battery life meter. The external screen also will flash incoming caller IDs and display the number of missed calls and texts.
Flipping up the phone isn't difficult once you work your thumb between the two faces, but we've had an easier time on other models. Thankfully, Samsung has used a thick plastic hinge we've seen before. It may not be especially stylish, but it endows the handset with a sense of durability.
The 2.2-inch TFT internal display has a 240x320-pixel QVGA resolution that looks appropriately bright and sharp. The menus are intuitively laid out and the numbers are large when you dial. You can change the font type, size, and color, and can also customize the background color.
Beneath the display is a generously sized navigation array that includes two soft keys and a four-directional navigation pad (D-pad) with a central OK button. The T259 is chockablock with shortcuts--there are two programmable shortcut keys and a shortcut for each direction you toggle the D-pad while you're on the home screen.
The navigation buttons, Talk and End keys, clear keys, and dial pad are all spacious and comfortable. Buttons aren't fully separated, so it isn't very easy to dial by feel, although we would recommend the T259 for someone looking for easy-to-see and easy-to-press keys. The pound key also turns on vibrate mode.
Although it's a fairly simple phone, there are a few multimedia extras on the T259 that are reflected in the phone's external features, like the camera trigger button on the right spine. Unfortunately, Samsung only provided one Micro-USB jack, which has to do double duty as a charging port and headphone jack if you intend to make use of the music player within. As such, you'll need to pick up an extra adapter to use headphones with a standard 3.5-millimeter connector. The T259 has a volume rocker on the left spine, as well as a microSD card slot that takes up to 32GB expandable memory. We like the easy access.
Making phone calls is the T259's focus, but that doesn't mean there isn't a decent set of essential features inside. There's space for 1,000 entries in the T259's address book, with fields for multiple phone numbers, an e-mail address, a home address, a birthday reminder, and a note. You can also associate a caller with a group, a photo, or one of 19 polyphonic ringtones.