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Samsung Transform Review

We first got a look at the Samsung Transform at CTIA in San Francisco after it was announced alongside the LG Optimus S and Sanyo Zio as Sprint’s first 3 phones to rock Sprint ID. I had pretty high hopes for the Transform for a number of reasons; but summarizing, it seemed like the Epic 4G on training wheels and a great fit for a beginning Android enthusiasts.

While it was a valiant effort by Samsung and Sprint, I was disappointed in the end result. Check out my review video alongside further details below:

The Hardware

Samsung-TransformThe “Epic 4G on training wheels” tag definitely applies to the hardware from a LOT of aspects. It has the slideout QWERTY keyboard but feels a bit more plasticky and tones down the specs all around. The 3.5-inch screen is only 480×320 pixel resolution, but considering the target, I thought this was suitable if the object is to limit the processing weight and conserve battery life.

I was pretty satisfied with the FEEL of the Samsung Transform and although it wasn’t a beast of a phone, there is a HUGE market for mid-range Androids. Unfortunately, my assumptions that the 800 MHz processor and 256 MB RAM could shoulder the load weren’t  reality.

transform

On the surface the hardware seemed great, but it forced the software to drag it’s feet, and things you usually take for granted – like a good camera – were missing in action.

Sprint ID

One of my biggest hopes for the Samsung Transform was that it would effectively utilize Sprint ID, a service that I think has some great potential. As I’ve said before, I wouldn’t personally use Sprint ID myself, but there are a huge number of people who would benefit greatly from the concept.

sprint-id

If you’re a beginning Android user (and perhaps first time smartphone user) and the sheer volume of applications on Android market overwhelms you – Sprint ID is for you. The entire user experience is very much a vanilla Android, Google experience phone, save for a little “ID” button in the bottom right. Press on that and you’ll open up Sprint’s own little market of Sprint ID Application Packs.

Instead of downloading one application or game at a time, Sprint ID allows you to select from different “experiences” made by developers. For example you could download the “Yahoo” Sprint ID pack and immediately your wallpaper and ringtones are changed to Yahoo related media and your phone is packed with all the Yahoo Apps for Android Market.

While similar concepts can be seen from other companies loading up their own wares, like EA Mobile ID pack installing demos of all the games, the concept can (and hopefully will) be taken much further. For example an entertainment pack that installs the best entertainment related apps from a multitude of sources… not just one company trying to self-promote.

I found the current Sprint ID offerings to be pretty limited and somewhat disappointing, but these are the first Sprint ID phones. As more developers create ID packs, there will be better options to choose from and I think it will really provide new Android users a solid experience without having to be all that tech savvy.

Right here, right now though? Sprint ID is a work in process and not a primary reason to buy the Transform. Take a look at and keep an eye on All the Sprint ID Packs.

The Software

android21_gallery-appsBeyond Sprint ID, the Samsung Transform is very much your plain Jane Android phone that does everything you would expect it to… albeit a little bit slower and more choppy. The Transform is running Android 2.1 and it feels like the 800 MHz processor just is just a couple steps behind where the UI is running. While a bit of slowness and choppiness in Apps, Games and general navigation isn’t a complete phone killer, it’s definitely noticeable if you’re used to a higher powered handset.

In the video above, you can see the demo of Angry Birds as a primary example – that is clearly NOT the best gaming experience and NOT what you would get/enjoy on other Android handsets. You can still play the game and it’s still fun – it just gives the impression of an unpolished product.

The hope here is that the Transform will get Android 2.2, which includes processing optimizations, and will immediately benefit with smoother and quicker operations. We’ll have to wait and see how early 2.2 comes, and even more interesting will be Sprint ID’s role in any delays to firmware updates. In terms of customizations it’s minimalistic on the frontend, but who knows how much code Sprint will have to sort through to make their ID service work on new OS pushes.

Generally speaking, the software is what you would expect from Android, just a little slow which definitely hindered the experience.

The Camera

With a regular 3.2MP camera on the rear and a front facing .3MP camera on the front, I thought the Samsung Transform would perform decently for taking pictures and videos. I guess if you keep it’s only 3.2 MP, “decent’ would be a good description, but it’s definitely not one of the best 3.2 MP cams on the market. Let me show you some of the highlights and then share what was the more common “mediocrity”.

Take for example this picture of a pumpkin – I think it turned out pretty good:

2010-10-27 14.24.16

And I rather enjoyed the setting for making “Fall Colors” pop out – see it unused on the first and then in action below that:

2010-10-27 13.45.22

2010-10-27 13.45.49

I also thought the front-facing cam did a decent job at simple “self-pics” being only .3 MP:

2010-10-27 13.46.26

Hi!!!

But more often than not, a lot of the pictures I took seemed fuzzy and were without detail, definition and color.

2010-10-27 15.20.19

I will say, however, that the zoom seemed to work pretty darn good:

2010-10-27 15.20.28

Another total mystery was the camera’s ability to take pictures in low or no light. I could EASILY see colors on the posters below through the viewfinder and the lighting was dim- not pitch black or terribly dark- but the outcome seemed practically like a black and white photo:

2010-10-27 15.36.37

But the flash worked fantastically… under the same lighting, check out how the colors jump out of the picture:

2010-10-27 15.36.22

So the picture-taking ability was limited and mediocre with flashes of greatness (no pun intended). Unfortunately, the Transform took video that was practically unusable unless you’re recording a person at very close distance. This should give you an idea of what I mean:

That pretty much explains that…

The Bottom Line

The Samsung Transform falls short of what I would wish for in a mid-range Android phone, mainly because of the software’s roughness around the corners. There are just too many good low to mid-range Android phones out there to consider a phone that right off the bat seems a bit slow and unpolished.

At the time of this review, the pricing is/was $150 on a 2-year contract and the phone was running Android 2.1. If either, or preferably both, of those details change then the Transform could possibly transform into a good deal. But for now, I’d suggest you fulfill your Android appetite elsewhere.

Continue reading on the Samsung Transform forums, see the specs, or find news and reviews.




  • androidKING

    i have sprint and im going to get a new phone,this looks like a good phone for a great price,but i don’t like the keyboard,it has the,idk how to explain,the way the buttons feel,i dont like that,but now i have to decide weather to get the Transform,the Epic,The upcoming Knight,the upcoming Blackberry Torch,or the Hero 2,the ones that are on top of my list are the Epic and the Knight,this looks like a great phone though.

  • http://www.examiner.com/smartphones-in-hartford/charles-west Charles W.

    Dude, I dig The Golden Child picture frame!

  • asqwerth

    It might not be that the processor is inadequate. A software fix/update might possibly solve the choppiness and homescreen lag problems, like how it was when the GSM Hero was first released (in Europe). My Hero – which certainly has a weaker CPU – now runs FroydVillain (ie Froyo) and although the Angry Birds backgrounds don’t display all details, the movement of the birds and other elements in the game is fine.

  • ParanoidAndroid

    800 MHZ isnt too bad at all if the software gets refined but im guessing right off the bat its not. Froyo’s the kicker, with it it’ll be viable, without its just another phone that prob wont get much recognition.

  • DaveyBoy

    For all the touchwiz haters this is running stock aqndroid. Seems like a very good phone. I would say its a midlevel phone. If they put 512 ram it would be a high midlevel phone. It should get 2.2 pretty quickly since it is stock. How much ROM does it have. Also the okb resolution does not require as much RAM.

  • DarkDroid

    Got this phone in my hands, honestly you are coming down a little harsh on it to be honest. It’s a mid level phone and honestly it’s not going to run too many things. I mean it’s a decent phone, but it’s not below mid-level.

  • androidKING

    can somebody please tell me what “sprint ID” is.i don’t know what it is and nobody will tell me.

  • r d

    like the review indicated, SPRINT ID is a pre-packed set of android apps and phone settings for those that dont want to go look-up and download apps from the Android MarketPlace.

    i think the phone is a better phone than was described in the above editorial. A review from someone that is used to carrying a higher end phone (EVO, EPIC, G2…etc) this review is harsh. For a user coming from a non-touch 3G phone (like myself) this phone is MORE than adequate and responsive. (esp as the developers refine the most popular apps)

    $0.02

  • sandi e

    Ugh decisions, decisions I’m with sprint got the Epic 3+ weeks ago and very, horrible battery life, you pay $10 more and you can’t even increase or change the font size without having to download a 3rd party app and reconfigue your root! I don’t even know what root is or how it works!! Needless to say I’m very unhappy I only have a few days to make up my mind and don’t know what to get. I was thinking about the Transformer but after reading the reviews I am not imressed, guess I’ll just go back to blackberry at least I know they’re reliable and I don’t have to charge my phone twice a day!

  • ancientTechie

    sandi e,
    Try downloading Power Manager. The demo version offers presets that do a fine job of extending battery life and, for a few bucks, you can customize it to meet your needs — made a big difference on my Evo!

  • MrSatoV

    @sandi e I hope you stuck with the Epic, it really is a great phone. Don’t let battery life make you switch. Get a car charger and a charger for your work if you need to. Root just means you’re giving yourself permissions on the phone to do anything you want – things that are by default restricted. There is a one click application that can root it for you, and then you can put a “custom rom” on the phone that will greatly enhance battery life, and even speed. I have an Evo and can say that the Epic is one of the very few real competitors.

    The Transform is a baby Epic, and the same goes for it – rooted and customized, this phone will be awesome… and there are Black Friday sales where the Transform is free or near free. Can’t beat that!

  • rasta

    the transform doesnt work with the one click application that can root. tried it. doesnt work.

  • 1stTimeAndroid

    Came down to this phone or the Optimus S. Chose the S and have been happy with it’s performance. It has a 600mhz proc and has kept up pretty well with the chores I give it. Thought maybe the 800 on the transform would help, but reviews have shown it to be less than capabel at times. Haven’t been able to fine one reviewer who has done both though so the comparison can be made.

  • http://www.bayareaminimalist.blogspot.com Vince CA

    I’ve had the phone a week now. I chose it because it’s the highest end Android offering from Credo Mobile. I’m very satisfied with it. Granted, it’s my first smartphone, but it blows away my wife’s Blackberry for usability and intuitiveness. And as a Linux user, Android was the obvious choice. I’m not experiencing the slowness that the reviewer describes. The UI feels snappy to me, and the keyboard is large and readable and responsive; I make fewer errors with it than my iPod Touch 3G and my LG Rumor. Sprint ID is silly and disabled in Credo Mobile, and that’s a good thing. I can wait a while for 2.2, as I can’t honestly find anything wrong with the phone.

  • Mike

    I just got a Transform 2 weeks ago. I’m not sure if I’m going to keep it or not. I am having problems ending phone calls. There sometimes is nothing to slide to end the call. I use it as my home phone and I have to unplug it when it’s done charging. That’s inconvenient when I have to go to sleep and want it to charge it overnight. With the lack of update support for the phone my decision is almost clear.

    • Aaronp91071

      Pull the screen from the top with the icons in it to see (and end) your current call…

  • Jennifer

    I got this phone for Christmas, at first it was awesome and I loved it but now not so much its acting up like crazy!! They phone shuts off and wont come back on so I have to take the battery out and put it back in (not suppose to have to do that with a new phone!) My landscape key board doesnt even show up anymore for me to text on..My sprint ID is not working, The calls never want to end it like goes away so I cant end it!! And I cant figure out how to put my own ringtones for text messages. So all in all I WOULD NEVER GET THIS PHONE!!!!!

  • Bernadette

    I bought the Transform 3 days ago. The phone is great if you are not too familiar with a smartphone. I am disappointed with this phone. I am going to trade it in for the HTC EVO 4g. My son has it and it is much faster and able to do much more than the Transform.

  • http://yahoo thomas casey

    i would like to let you know how much a piece of junk the transform is its the worst phone ever its slow its no 3g very slow force close allt he time. had to switch phone becaues i thought it was that paticular phone got a new one and it does the same thing freezes up all the time its got a bad delay on everything. now that im stuck with this peice of junk im going to tell everyone what it really is a piece of junk!!!!!!!!all i really want to do is throw it against the wall thanks for the biggest piece of junk of a phone

  • Linzy

    This phone is the biggest piece of junk ever. Everything in the comment above mine is true. I, also, was having problems with the phone and took it back, because I thought it was that specific phone. When I got my new Transform, I still have the same issues. This phone takes 3-4 minutes to load up, they shouldnt even be releasing a phone that takes that long to load up. I have to rebooted – take out my battery, anywhere between 3-5 times a day. The stupid thing IS FOREVER freezing on me and “oh god!” the lagging.. its a nightmare. The phone truly is a piece of junk. Explains why I paid $250 for it the day it came out and I just saw my sprint store selling it for $50 after rebates. What a total waste of money Samsung. Releasing crap like this makes me NEVER want to buy Samsung again AND change services. I cant believe Sprint would allow this hunk of “so-called” Android autobot turd to be purchased by its customers. I cannot WAIT to get a new phone and toss this one out the window,run over it with my car, hack it up into little bitty pieces, stuff the pieces into a marshmellow gun, and shoot them in the face of Samsung’s CEO.

    Please dont review a phone until you have the phone for a few weeks/months. Give it a chance, it will prove to you its garbage in a hunk of plastic.

  • lindsay

    Phone is a hunk of Andoid autobot turd. Do not buy!

  • jessica

    I hate my transform! I also paid $100 (the deductible) to replace it aaaaaaand its the same thing with this one. Its SO incredibly slow I want to throw it against a wall on a hourly basis. I HIGHLY recommend NEVER buying this phone!!! Biggest waste of money and also minutes of your life waiting for it to damn work. Apparently i’ll be eligible for an upgrade in july 2013 : / thanks samsung.

  • http://www.yahoo.com robert

    Looks good on the outside but RAM sucks. Ive had too many glitches.

  • http://tycarly123@wordpress.com Reniya

    i have this phone and this man is a little bit off he must of had one day with it because this phone is cool. Out of 1-10 i give it a 9.5 its all goooooood. Perfect