The Samsung Galaxy Precedent has a two megapixel camera. While this is not the best camera available on a Straight Talk smart phone, it’s good enough for most snapshots. If you enable the location features on the phone, then that is also recorded.
I tried the camera out recently taking the kids to a couple of festivals. The first was the National Book Festival in Washington DC. One of the exhibits there was a recreation of the Magic School Bus. While holding a book festival bag and a dog on the leash on one hand, I managed to take some pretty good pics with the phone on my other hand. The second was the fall festival at a local wildlife refuge. Someone from a raptor rescue group brought a red-tailed hawk.
If you enable location-gathering in your settings, you’ll also store where the photo was taken down to the street level. For example, I took the picture below on a family visit to a farm in Virginia:
The phone captured the location as "Snowden Rd, Virginia".
Once you take your pics, you can share them.
The Facebook (Android) app works well on the Straight Talk Samsung Galaxy Precedent. In fact, if you haven’t tried it yet, you may find that you prefer checking out Facebook on your phone rather than on the computer. It feels less cluttered and more immediate when you see the updates coming on your phone.
There’s a camera icon at the top left of the home screen. When you touch that you can upload photos from your gallery and take a new one with the camera for immediate upload.
Of course you’re not limited to FB. Many of the other popular sites also have Android apps that you can install if you want to or just access the sites themselves.
The full HTML web browser allows you to check out pretty much any site on the internet. There is a default homepage that’s pretty much the same across all Straight Talk/Tracfone/Net10 handsets, but you can reset the default home page in your settings to whatever URL you want or even leave it blank.
The browser uses the gravity sensor to orient the screen no matter which way you’re holding the phone. You can use a pinching or spreading action with your fingers to zoom in and out on the page so you can even read pages that are not laid out well for mobile browsers.
This phone does not support Flash. Few phones do these days as even Adobe has announced that they are abandoning Flash for Mobile devices.
There are some third party Flash viewers, but they don't seem to work. Practically, this means kids can't play the Flash games on sites like PBS Kids or see sites that use only Flash-based video players.
The email and Gmail apps work very well. You can install other email accounts including your work email as long as you know the incoming and outgoing server settings. You can schedule how often to check email. Both these apps are hooked into the notification system, and give a small beep when there’s new email available. Don’t worry. You can turn the beep off.
The Straight Talk Samsung Galaxy Precedent has a GPS receiver which enables location-based services and apps. This lets you do lots of cool things. For example, as mentioned above, you can store when and where your pictures were taken.
The Google maps application can map and give you directions, and now with the phone’s location feature, it knows your starting point.
Once you get a set of directions, you can click on “Navigate” to get spoken turn-by-turn directions just like a normal GPS. This feature is presented as “beta” so you do need to be on the alert for any glitches. I haven’t had any problems with it so far.
This feature works really well with the Google Places app. The navigation voice sound very computer-generated, but hey, it gets you there.
I especially like the integration with voice search. So you can say the name of the place you want to go to. The search will bring up the location and then you can navigate to it. This is actually an advantage over the GPS in my car.
Using Google Places (now called Google Plus Local) lets you locate nearby restaurants, coffee shops and other local places of business, and once you find them, you can use the GPS navigation feature to get spoken directions there. While this is useful in your cars, it’s really useful if you’re walking around in the city in broad daylight, because you don’t have to worry about trying to ready the screen in the bright sun.
Although, I guess it will mark you as an out-of-towner.
So as you can tell, the Straight Talk Samsung Galaxy Precedent is really a great phone for the price. So, what are the disadvantages?
The virtual QWERTY keyboard works great, but if you’re a heavy texter, you might prefer a phone with a physical keyboard. In that case, if you still want to use make use of Straight Talk’s unlimited plan which includes unlimited data, you should consider one of the LG Optimus Q or Nokia smartphones. The Nokia phones also run apps, but they're from the smaller Nokia OVI app store.
Some people are a little apprehensive with sharing so much data with Google. To take full advantage of all the features of the Straight Talk Samsung Galaxy Precedent, you need to create a Google account. I suppose you can create a separate account just for this phone if you want. If you're apprehensive about sharing you might want to think it over.
The phone itself comes with a quick reference guide. However there's more extensive info available online:
You can download the Samsung Galaxy Precedent Manual (pdf) here. It's pretty good.
There are also online tutorials that show you how to perform many common tasks on this phone.
If you’re interested in getting an affordable Android smart phone but want to avoid expensive monthly plans, then the Samsung Galaxy Precedent which costs as low as $29.99 + Free Shipping may be worth checking out. However, I suggest you consider some of their more recent phones as well.
Because the Precedent was released in late 2011 though it is still available now. It's probably more useful to compare it to no-contract phones that became available at about the same time.
The LG Optimus Q cost about the same as the Precedent but had a QWERTY slide-out keyboard. In contrast the Black had a front-facing camera and a few slightly better features.
Looking at smart phones under $100 gives you a pretty good idea as to what's available today.
If you want smart phones with parental controls, you may want to consider Kajeet.