Review of Samsung Transform: Sprint's Smartphone for the Middle Tier Market

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Samsung Transform - The Samsung Epic 4G’s Lower End Brother

The Samsung Transform is Samsung’s attempt at reaching the middle tier market. With the successful launch of the Galaxy S series, Samsung captured the high end and upper tier handset market. The Samsung Transform is the lower tiered brother to Sprint’s Samsung Epic 4G, their version of the Samsung Galaxy S. Similar to the Samsung Epic 4G, the Sprint Samsung Transform has a slide out physical QWERTY keyboard and runs on Google Android 2.1. Though it does not feature the onslaught of impressive hardware such as a Super AMOLED screen or a 1 GHz processor, the Samsung Transform does have the feature set to capture the mid-tier market. Samsung has begun a slow push of mid-tier Android phones for other carriers as well, such as the Samsung Gem on Verizon and the Samsung Galaxy Apollo in Europe.

Samsung Transform Specifications:

  • Dimensions: 4.61 x 2.42 x 0.61 inches (117 x 61 x 15 mm)
  • Weight: 5.37 oz (152 g)
  • Display: 3.5 inch color TFT capacitive touchscreen display, 320 x 480 pixels
  • Memory: 2 GB MicroSD, expandable to 32 GB
  • OS: Android OS 2.1
  • Processor: 800 MHz Samsung S3C6410, Qualcomm QSC6085
  • Camera: 3.2 MP camera, autofocus (2 Cameras, 1 front facing) with LED flash
  • Connectivity: CDMA Dual Band (800/1900 Mhz)
  • Data: 1xEV-DO rev.A/WiMAX (Sprint’s 4g)
  • Bluetooth: Bluetooth 2.1, Stereo Bluetooth
  • GPS: GPS with A-GPS
  • Battery: Li-Ion 1500 mAh

Design and Display (4 out of 5)

The Samsung Transform has a design very similar to its high end brother, the Samsung Epic 4G. A touchscreen, candy bar design with rounded corners and a slide out physical QWERTY keyboard. It does lack some of the shininess and high end luxury look that the Samsung Epic 4G has. The Samsung Transform, overall, for the market it’s going after, still has a beautiful design. The Samsung Transform has a 3.5 inch touch screen display with touch sensitive buttons at the bottom of the display. Above the screen is a front facing camera used for video calls. The design overall is very similar to the Epic 4G. The only difference is that it’s a little bit more square and slightly bulkier.

On the right side is a dedicated camera button, voice command control and power/lock button. Opposite is the volume rocker and on top of the Samsung Transform is the 3.5 mm headphone jack and a microUSB for recharging, with a nice little slide out cover. Behind the 3.5 inch display, the Samsung Transform has a 3.2 megapixel camera, the second camera on the phone, and it comes with LED flash. Under the display is a hinge that keeps the gray, with orange highlights, QWERTY keyboard at bay. Once the hinge is triggered, the physical keyboard slides right out. The design and display are wonderful for a mid-tier level Android device.

User Interface (3 out of 5)

The Samsung Transform introduces you to a new user interface for Android. Currently, the Samsung Transform

Sprint - Now offering Sprint ID

runs on the familiar Android 2.1 OS, but it does not have Samsung’s proprietary overlay, TouchWiz UI. Instead, the Samsung Transform has Sprint ID. Sprint ID is an interesting addition to the Samsung Transform but it’s still not up to par with just stock Android or even TouchWiz UI. Sprint ID basically is a way for you to quickly switch to profiles featuring a different set of applications, depending on which Sprint ID you select. It’s an interesting feature, but has a few kinks it needs to work out. The applications don’t actually close when you switch profiles, meaning you have applications bogging down the Samsung Transform’s already weak processor and slowing things down. Still needs quite a bit of work to really hammer out the Sprint ID idea.

Overall, however, the user interface is intuitive and familiar to Android users. The keyboard is also very user friendly, though, at times, it’s a bit hard to hit the corner keys, but overall, the keyboard is solid for a mid-tier Android device. The Samsung Transform, even with Sprint ID, is still a solid phone with an easy to use interface.

Hardware and Software (2 out of 5)

The Samsung Transform doesn’t have the heavy hitting requirements that many of the higher end handsets currently have. The Samsung Epic 4G, the Verizon Motorola Droid X, the AT&T Samsung Captivate, they all have 1 GHz processors. The Samsung Transform uses an 800 MHz Qualcomm processor, which means it’s a bit slower, and it can’t handle hardware acceleration for OpenGL, meaning many applications and games actually don’t work on the Samsung Transform. The recently released T-Mobile HTC G2 has a newer generation 800 MHz processor that blows this chipset out of the water. Though the two phones may not be at the same competing level, the Samsung Transform should’ve taken a similar route.

The software is Android 2.1 though Sprint has announced that the Samsung Transform will run on Android 2.2 (Froyo) in the future. Sprint ID is a nice try at adding something new to the Samsung Transform but it really falls flat on its face with the bugginess it currently has. Overall, the hardware and software were an odd mix-match of items to try to differentiate the Samsung Transform, but in all the wrong ways.

Features (3 out of 5)

The Samsung Tranform has your average set of Android 2.1 features. The VGA front facing camera is a nice addition to the phone, however, the Samsung Transform was not able to use many common video chat applications such as Qik, Fring and Tango. Very odd that the Transform could not use these common applications considering that’s what the front facing camera should also be used for.

The camera on the back, the 3.2 megapixel camera is not the most top of the line camera for a phone, but it did it’s job. The autofocus was very responsive and the dedicated camera button was a nice touch for the Transform. Sprint ID, as mentioned above, is an “interesting” feature, but overall not very productive to the Samsung Transform.

Final Verdict (3 out of 5)

Overall the Sprint Samsung Transform is an average phone. Aiming for the mid-tier market, the Samsung Transform does have the features, but to compete with the higher end phones, the Transform does not have a chance. With the still buggy Sprint ID feature, and the lower end specs, the Transform really is an average Android handset. The price is one point you do have to consider as it is about $50 away from the higher end Epic 4G. If Sprint truly wants the Samsung Transform to succeed, they need to lower the price, but otherwise the Transform is a truly average smartphone.