Samsung Moment Review: The ED-209 of Android PhonesS

The Samsung Moment is the first Android phone trying to be special purely through hardware: It's got a really rich AMOLED display, a gigantic keyboard, an 800MHz processor (the fastest yet for Android) and it's on Sprint's sturdy 3G network.

While the specs might make you dizzy, there's absolutely nothing unique about the software. It's running a totally stock build of Android 1.5 (Cupcake) with some standard Sprint software tossed in, like Sprint TV, Navigator, apps for Nascar and football, and Exchange support through Moxier Mail. So, we're mostly gonna talk about the hardware here, since otherwise it's nothing you haven't seen before.

800 Whole Megahertz

Samsung Moment Review: The ED-209 of Android PhonesS

The single biggest expectation for the Moment, and its rip-roaring 800MHz processor, is some zoomzoomzip speed in Android, which ain't known for being the fastest smartphone OS around—largely, you would think, because every Android phone currently on the market is strapped with basically the same 528MHz ARM11 processor (the Moment's also using an ARM11 processor, though one built by Samsung, not Qualcomm).

Despite the extra clock speed, a turbocharged Android this is not. Some parts of the experience are smoother—transitions between apps stutter less, and less often, for instance—and it boots faster than any other Android phone I've used, but there's no serious extra pep in the OS. In fact, a lot of the same slowdowns that've become a hallmark of Android are present: The app menu often (but not always) lags as pull you it up, and those random moments where the phone just won't respond to keys your tapping or your finger madly pounding on the screen still happen, just like on other Android phones. I was hoping it would be more than a little better (seriously, hanging while I'm just typing in Google Talk?), especially since it's running a vanilla build of Android without any fancy overlays on top of it, like the Hero or Cliq.

I suspect it would run faster and better on Android 1.6, which might take greater advantage of the bonus horsepower, but it's not shipping from Samsung until sometime in 2010.

AMOLED Makes Me Blue

The AMOLED display is stunning in some respects—it's incredibly saturated, blacks are gorgeous and it makes other Android displays look pale and washed out. There are two problems: It's not very readable in the sunlight (just like the Zune HD, which used an OLED display), and it's very blue. At first, I thought it was just a tendency of OLED displays to be this cool, but this is what it looks like compared to the Zune HD:

Samsung Moment Review: The ED-209 of Android PhonesS

Not a dealbreaker for the screen out of context, but I really wish I could adjust the color temp, since now that I've noticed it, it bugs me every time I look at it. I probably just ruined it for you too.

Hello, Giant Keyboard, Goodbye Trackball

Samsung Moment Review: The ED-209 of Android PhonesS

The Moment is a gigantic phone. That's because it has a big fucking keyboard. Tiny people with tiny hands might think it's too big. The keys are sorta rubbery, and flat, separated in a kind of honeycomb design, but they're big enough to easily tell them apart, and they make surprisingly deep satisfying clicks when you press them. Overall, despite the mediocre size and placement of the space button, it's probably the best typing experience on Android.

Samsung ditches the classic trackball for a trackpad. It sucks. I tried to use it like 4 times, and then I just didn't. The touch-sensitive buttons on the face of the phone are a mistake too—during a call, my face apparently rolled over the menu button and I muted myself, leaving Wilson to yell, "Hello? HELLO!? HELLOOOOOO!" for like 30 seconds while I tried to figure out what the hell just happened.

View gallery »

Why It's the ED-209 of Android Phones

It's massive, has theoretically superior firepower, and runs marginally faster than the Android competition. But in the end, it's clearly stuck in the past, and Robocop blows it up by being smarter. In this case, that's the Hero. Or Cliq.

The Moment's disappointing not just because the Hero and Cliq actually do interesting things that make Android better, but because it's running an older version of Android that's likely limiting its potential, and it won't get the chance to be better until everybody stops caring about it.

If you absolutely need an Android phone with keyboard, get a Cliq or wait for the Droid. If you want an Android phone on Sprint and were torn, just get the Hero.

Samsung Moment Review: The ED-209 of Android PhonesAMOLED screen is pretty
Samsung Moment Review: The ED-209 of Android PhonesBig ol' keyboard
Samsung Moment Review: The ED-209 of Android PhonesBig ol' phone
Samsung Moment Review: The ED-209 of Android PhonesFaster processor doesn't mean faster Android
Samsung Moment Review: The ED-209 of Android PhonesAMOLED screen is a little too blue