Samsung Dart Reviewed - Hitting a Bullseye or Missing the Mark?
written by: Robert Faustus•edited by: Simon Hill•updated: 7/8/2011
The Samsung Dart is yet another addition into the entry level smartphone market through T-Mobile in the U.S. While the higher end smartphones are saturating the market, the entry level market seems to be more ripe for the taking. Does the Dart hit its mark or does it miss the board entirely?
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The Free Smartphone From T-Mobile
Samsung is pouring out smartphone after smartphone into the entry level market, now that it has seemingly dominated the higher end market with the Samsung Galaxy S2. In just a single month, this is the third entry level smartphone released from Samsung for T-Mobile, the Samsung Exhibit 4G and Samsung Gravity Smart being the other two. The Samsung Dart is the lowest of the low, the cheapest of the cheap, being offered for free with a contract. That may seem enticing to some, but is the cheap price worth it for the Dart?
Samsung Dart Specifications:
Dimensions: 4.09 x 2.39 x 0.48 inches (104 x 61 x 12.2 mm)
Weight: 3.8 oz (108 g)
Display: 3.1 inch LCD capacitive touch-screen display, 240 x 320 pixels
Memory: 160 MB and expandable up to 32 GB via MicroSD slot
The Samsung Dart is bland and rather unremarkable. Even for an entry level smartphone, the Dart is very bland and doesn't really have any characteristics to make it stand out above the others. The 3.1 inch LCD capacitive touch screen is rather small and is very dull in terms of colors. In addition, the display doesn't have much of a viewing angle and pretty much requires you to stare directly into the screen to get a clear view. The display is a big disappointment, considering Samsung has been known to create quality displays for their smartphones.
Underneath the display are the standard Android shortcuts for home, menu, back and search. Along the left edge resides the volume rocker, and opposite on the right, resides the microSD slot and power / lock button. The top of the Dart contains the microUSB and 3.5 mm headphone jack. Overall it takes on the common design cues found on other Android powered smartphones, but it seems to use cheaper materials overall.
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The Samsung Dart performs as it's supposed to, though there is noticeable lag when using the smartphone. The Dart comes with a 600 MHz processor, very much like the LG Optimus T that's also an entry level smartphone from T-Mobile, and runs Android 2.2. The Dart, like the Optimus T, isn't exactly smooth when it comes to running Android and beyond the lag, the more processor intensive applications don't run. If they do manage to start up, they typically crash soon thereafter.
The call quality was decent for both incoming and outgoing calls. It was actually better than the Samsung Gravity Smart, as it didn't have any echo or distortion. The volume level could have been increased for incoming calls, however, as it was a bit hard to hear the other side of the conversation at times. Overall, however, the quality of the phone calls was surprisingly decent.
The 1200 mAh battery is a step smaller than the 1500 mAh found on the more recent entry level smartphones, and the small step down is very visible. The phone was able to last a little over a day with normal use, including browsing and GPS, before it died out. On standby, it lasted a good four days before signing off.
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While the Samsung Dart does feature Android, it doesn't have the specifications to really take advantage of the operating system. Starting with the small 3.1 inch display, it feel very cramped when typing on the screen, both in portrait and landscape mode. In addition, the pixelation could easily be seen on screen, making it hard to read text at times. It also doesn't help that the screen seemed to be of lower quality, with the colors dulled and the viewing angle so small.
Using the Dart is simple since it is touch-screen, but using the features isn't as fun. Playing video on the Dart is an absolute disaster, though music fares much better. While TouchWiz UI does enhance the experience a bit, overall, it falls flat for the Dart because it's just not very fun to use a laggy system on a smartphone.
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The Samsung Dart comes with a 3 megapixel camera with no flash. That mixture only leads to blurry, unclear, non-crisp shots that only lead to further disappointment. Once it starts to get dark outside, there's really no point in trying to use the Dart as a camera. The video quality doesn't fare any better, with the video being fairly choppy and quite frankly, the video looks cheap.
The rest of the features, such as the Bluetooth, GPS and Wi-Fi connectivity are decent and are a huge plus. The GPS actually seems to pick up a signal slighly faster on the Dart than on the higher end Samsung Galaxy S. Though, when compared with other entry level smartphones, it does take a slightly longer time to grab a satellite. Samsung's smartphones seem to consistently miss the bar when it comes to connecting to satellites quickly.
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The Final Verdict
Overall the Samsung Dart ranks in at 'Below Average' unfortunately. The uninspiring design, its lackluster display, the laggy operating system and the sub par features really make the Dart a bland and boring smartphone. The only big upside is that the Dart is free with a contract through T-Mobile. T-Mobile may have made the mistake of releasing too many similar entry level smartphones at once, and the Dart is shaping up to be a quickly forgotten device.