T-Mobile hasn't been quite as aggressive as other carriers in rolling out messaging-centric phones, unless you count smartphones like the Sidekick. The only messaging phones in its stable have so far been the Samsung Gravity SGH-T459, which looks a lot like the Samsung Rant from Sprint, and the Samsung SGH-T349, which only has a partial keyboard. Samsung and T-Mobile have partnered again to come up with yet another messaging phone, dubbed the Samsung Comeback SGH-T559.
Similar to the LG enV3, it has a flip design, dual displays, and both a keypad and a QWERTY keyboard. But the real surprise lies in its features: it has a 2.0-megapixel camera, a HTML browser with Flash Lite, 3G support, stereo Bluetooth, and a music player. Though we're not wowed by the design--and we're not crazy about the name--we're overall pleased with the functionality and performance of the Comeback SGH-T559. It is available now for $129.99 with a two-year service agreement with T-Mobile
Even though the Samsung Comeback has a similar design to the LG enV3, they couldn't be more apart in style. While the enV3 struck us as sleek and stylish, the Comeback is definitely wide and clunky. Measuring 4.33 inches long by 2.2 inches wide by 0.73 inch thick, the Comeback has the aesthetic of a cheap kitchen appliance, with its plastic body, curved sides, and blocky corners. One of our co-workers commented that it looked like a cross between a Storm Trooper and a George Foreman grill. Weighing in at 4.6 ounces, the Comeback is not too heavy and feels comfortable when held in the hand. The hinge feels sturdy when opening and closing the phone.
On the front of the Comeback is a 1.0-inch PMOLED display with 65,000 colors. Though the screen looks a bit dark even at its brightest setting, the images look sharp and the text is bold and legible. You can adjust the brightness of this display separately from the main display. All other display settings--the backlight time, the dialing display (where you adjust the color of the background and the type and color of the dialing font), and the color theme--are the same for both the external and internal displays.
By default, T-Mobile's MyFaves (also known as your five favorite contacts) are shown on the display's home screen. You can press the End key to minimize the MyFaves display, and then bring them up again by hitting the OK key. You can also add a MyFaves contact directly from the home screen by selecting an empty slot on the MyFaves carousel.
Underneath the display is the navigation array, which consists of two soft keys, a square toggle with a middle OK key, a dedicated camera key, a Back key, and the Send and End/Power keys. The up and down directions on the toggle double as shortcuts to the Call Log and the Contacts list. The right and left directions on the toggle double as shortcuts to a new text message and a new audio postcard respectively, but only when MyFaves is minimized.
The navigation keys felt easy to use for the most part, since they're raised above the surface of the phone. The same goes for the number keypad, which is directly beneath it. The keys are well spaced and it felt easy to dial and text with a reasonable amount of speed. Still, we would recommend using the QWERTY keyboard for texting. The volume rocker and charger jack are on the left spine and the camera lens and external speaker are on the back. The microSD card slot is inconveniently located behind the battery.
If you turn the phone 90 degrees to the right and flip the phone up, you'll reveal a bright 2.7-inch display plus a full QWERTY keyboard. The display has 262,000 colors and a 240x400-pixel resolution, which results in crisp and colorful graphics. Right on the home screen of the main display are five shortcut icons that lead to MyFaves, the message in-box, the Web2go Web browser, the apps menu, and a link to your T-Mobile account page.
There are two soft keys underneath the horizontal display, and a navigation array sits to the right of the keyboard. The navigation array consists of a dedicated text messaging key, a camera key, a square toggle and a middle OK key, the Send and End/Power keys, and the Back key. The toggle has the same dual functions as the external toggle. The messaging key can be mapped to one of five messaging shortcuts--create a new message, the message in-box, a new audio postcard, e-mail, or instant messaging.
We wanted to like the Comeback's keyboard; the keys are all raised above the surface, they have a nice give when pressed, there's a dedicated www.com key (which helps a lot when entering URLs), and even a dedicated emoticon key. However, we wanted more room at the sides of the keyboard--it felt a bit enclosed when we were typing, especially with keys on the far left and right. The keys themselves are also quite small, requiring us to use our fingernails most of the time. We imagine those with larger digits might find it more difficult to use. It's not a terrible keyboard by any means, but it might not be for everyone.
The Samsung Comeback has a 1,000-entry phone book, with room in each entry for four numbers, four e-mail addresses, three instant-messaging usernames (one each for AIM, Windows, and Yahoo), a birthday, an anniversary date, a street address, a Web URL, and notes. You can also add the entry to a caller group; assign it an image for photo ID, or one of 22 72-note polyphonic ringtones. Other basics include text and multimedia messaging, a vibrate mode, a speakerphone, a calendar, an alarm clock, a unit converter, a time, and a stopwatch.