The T239 is light years from a smartphone, but it offers a couple of extra features beyond the basics. You'll find instant messaging, a voice recorder, Bluetooth, and a speakerphone. The VGA camera takes pictures in four resolutions. Editing options include a night mode, a self-timer, a 4x zoom, a brightness control, four white-balance settings, four color tones, and four shutter sounds. The T239 does not record video. Photo quality was about average for a VGA camera with muted colors and image noise. The T239 has about 10MB of internal memory for storing photos. Alternatively, you can send photos to friends in an audio postcard.
You can personalize the T239 with a selection of wallpaper, message tones, and a greeting message. The handset doesn't come with any games, but you can download titles and additional personalization options from T-Mobile using the T239's wireless Web browser.
We tested the Samsung SGH-T239 in San Francisco using T-Mobile service. Call quality was fairly decent on the whole. Voices sounded natural, the signal was strong, and there was minimal static and interference. The volume was rather low, however, and we had trouble hearing in noisy places. If you're just using the phone occasionally, it shouldn't be an issue, but take care if you plan on using the phone primarily outside. Keep in mind that as a dual-band (GSM 850/1900) phone, you can't use the T239 outside of North America.
On their end, callers said we sounded fine. Most could tell we were using a cell phone, but our friends could hear and understand us the majority of the time. The only exceptions were when we were on a busy street or when we were in a room with a lot of loudspeaker announcements. Speakerphone calls were just average; likewise, we had to be close to the phone when speaking to automated calling systems. Bluetooth headset calls were satisfactory.
The T239 has a rated battery life of 7 hours talk time and 12.5 days standby time. Our tests showed a slightly longer talk time of 8 hours and 15 minutes. According to FCC radiation tests, the T239 has a digital SAR rating of 1.07 watts per kilogram.
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