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There was a time when an Android powered smartphone with a 1 GHz processor and WVGA display would have been considered a higher end device, but with the increasing technological advances made by manufacturers, these smartphones are now entering the entry level and mid level markets. The Samsung Exhibit 4G is one of those smartphones with the specifications it has now -- a year ago it would have been a higher end device. With the rise of dual core smartphones such as the Motorola Atrix 4G and better screens such as the Super AMOLED Plus screens found on the Samsung Galaxy S2, the Exhibit 4G has been shifted to a lower tier market. With the shift towards the lower tier market, comes a shift in price as well, coming in at a price of $79.99 on contract, the Exhibit 4G looks like quite the enticing smartphone.
Samsung Exhibit 4G Specifications:
- Dimensions: 4.70 x 2.30 x 0.50 inches (119 x 58 x 13 mm)
- Weight: 4.40 oz (125 g)
- Display: 3.5 inch LCD capacitive touchscreen display, 480 x 800 pixels
- Memory: 1 GB and expandable up to 32 GB via MicroSD slot
- OS: Android OS 2.3
- Processor: 1 GHz Hummingbird
- Camera: 3.2 megapixel camera and front facing camera
- Connectivity: GSM 850, 900, 1800, 1900
- Data: EDGE and HSPA+ (T-Mobile's 4G network)
- Bluetooth: Bluetooth 3.0
- GPS: GPS with A-GPS
- Battery: Li-Ion 1500 mAh
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Design and DisplayRating
The Samsung Exhibit 4G looks like your standard run of the mill, Android powered handset. Featuring a candy bar design with a 3.5 inch LCD display dominating the front and the standard Android shortcuts for menu, back, and search. Samsung has added a physical button underneath the tactile shortcuts as a home button. The display itself is decent, while not as vibrant as that found on a Super AMOLED display, the LCD display on the Exhibit 4G still displays bright colors and crisp text.
Along the left edge resides the volume rocker and an opening for the microSD card. Opposite, on the right resides the power / lock button. Up top is where the microUSB and 3.5 mm headphone jack are located, while the bottom remains clean. The layout is very similar to the Samsung Galaxy S lines, except that the microSD slot is external, which is a great choice, and the charging port is up top. Overall it's a very average design and looks like a mesh between the Samsung Galaxy S 4G from T-Mobile and the Samsung Gem from U.S. Cellular.
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The Samsung Exhbit 4G packs a punch with a 1 GHz Hummingbird processor, which is the same type of processor found in the original Samsung Galaxy line up. Running on this processor is Android 2.3, the current latest and greatest version, with a simplified version of TouchWiz overlay running on top. The interface is smooth with little to no lag, unless more processor heavy applications are run. The same type of lag can be found on the higher end smartphones such as the Samsung Galaxy S 4G.
The call quality was superb, with both incoming and outgoing calls clear with no echo or distortion ruining the call. The speaker phone was also decent, though the sound quality could have been slightly better. The data coverage was also superb, offering extremely fast speeds thanks to the fact that it has HSPA+ or 4G connectivity. Video chatting was a smooth experience with a bit of choppiness but overall very smooth.
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The touch-screen interface on the Exhibit, like on other Android powered handsets, is easy to learn, use and master. People of all ages can quickly understand how the system works as it is all touch based. Samsung also included a very simplified version of TouchWiz on top, which provides consistency with the rest of the Samsung line up. It would have been preferrable if Samsung just went with stock Android, but TouchWiz isn't too intrusive and does give the phone an iOS feel, so it evens out.
Using the keyboard in portrait mode does take a bit of getting used to due to the smaller screen and landscape will most likely be your preferred usage of the virtual keyboard. The responsiveness of the touch screen is decent and therefore typing on the Exhibit 4G feels natural, even though it's a virtual keyboard.
The Exhibit 4G also comes with T-Mobile specific applications to enhance the user experience. Some of the T-Mobile specific applications include T-Mobile AppPack, T-Mobile Highlight, T-Mobile Mall, T-Mobile Name ID, T-Mobile TV, and Visual Voicemail. T-Mobile has gone all out in adding these extra incentives and it's refreshing to see something like Visual Voicemail consistently being offered for free, which isn't the case with AT&T, the company buying them out.
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The Samsung Exhibit 4G comes equipped with a 3.2 megapixel camera, which is definitely a disappointment. The Exhibit 4G was doing well, mimicking its previous generation of higher end brethren, but when it comes to the camera, it falls flat. The camera is decent when it comes to picture quality, though it does give off the 'camera phone' vibe, even in well lit conditions. The LED flash that comes with it is very bright, able to brighten up to around 6 or 7 feet away in the dark. The video recording abilities of the Exhibit leave a lot to be desired and you could easily confuse it with QVGA quality.
On the flipside, the great feature is the fact that the Exhibit can connect to the HPSA+ or 4G network. This gives blazingly fast speeds for you when browsing the web, downloading files or streaming music and videos. Beware that T-Mobile's "unlimited" plan actually has limits depending on the plan you receive and you must pay close attention to the small, legal writing in your contract, or else you will be throttled down to 3G when you hit your bandwidth limit. The front facing camera is also decent and with the speed of T-Mobile's 4G network, the video does not exhibit a lot of choppiness.
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The Final VerdictRating
The Samsung Exhibit 4G comes in with a "Good" ranking for an lower priced smartphone. It's amazing how fast the smartphone industry is changing, and the Exhibit 4G would have been the high end smartphone to get for T-Mobile if it was released one year ago. Barring the camera, it seems like the innards of the Samsung Galaxy S 4G have been transplanted to the encasings of the Samsung Exhibit 4G. With a price point of $79.99 with a contract, the Samsung Exhibit 4G is a great smartphone to grab for those low on cash.
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- Source: Author's own experience.
- Image Credit: Samsung, http://www.samsung.com/us/mobile/cell-phones/SGH-T759ZKBTMB-gallery