1 - Review and Photos
The T-Mobile Samsung T139 prepaid phone is a small step up from the Nokia 1661. The T139 offers a VGA camera and Bluetooth capability in a flip phone format. The only feature it leaves out in the upgrade is the FM radio.
The camera on this phone provides VGA-resolution (640 x 480) photos that are good enough for sending via picture message but not detailed enough for printing. Still, the camera is good enough to grab a quick close group shot with friends.
(Note: I haven't been able to send a text or picture message to an email address. An attempt to send a picture message to a Yahoo! email address was rejected.)
There is a side button for quick access to the camera.
You can use the digital zoom to appear to get closer to the subject. You can add color effects like B&W and sepia.
There's a timer which may come in useful, though most of the time you'll still be holding the camera when you include yourself in the photo.
Among the high-tech settings which may or may not make a difference in the real world is the ability to choose between center-weighted and spot metering. Spot metering is used when there is a particular bright or dark part of the scene that's not in the center.
After you take your photo you can add a voice memo. Then you send both photo and memo in a picture message.
There is one additional option on the T139 to put fun frames or borders around your photos as you take them. The resulting pics are small and only for sending via picture message. For example you can put someone's face on a milk carton, a wanted poster, or some pretty flowers.
Once you've take the photo, you can record a one-minute voice memo to go with it and send it out as an audio postcard.
You can pair the Samsung phone with a Bluetooth headset or hands-free car kit. (For the latter, remember that it is not recommended to use the phone while driving even if you use a hands-free kit.)
However, I was not able to pair the phone with a PC so you probably can't use Bluetooth to transfer your photos. You'll have to send them via picture message or perhaps upload them via the mobile web. Either way, it will cost you airtime.
The Samsung T139 comes with a small external black and white display and a larger main color display.
The external B&W screen shows the network signal strength, the battery strength, the time and date (updates automatically), and there is a message indicator. When there are messages, the mailbox icon and number of messages is displayed. When there are no messages, the day and date are displayed.
The display turns off after a few seconds. To turn it back on you press one of the up or down volume buttons on the side.
The color display is not huge but large enough to comfortable choose your menu options and read your text messages. For a text message you can read about six lines of 20 characters each which comes to 120 characters including the subject line. To read the rest of the text message you'll have to scroll down.
The menu fonts and icons are gracefully designed to be readable/decipherable at this screen resolution, something that's not always true with some of the other big phone manufacturers. The phone weighs (exactly) three ounces and comes with an 800 mAh battery (on the low side) that’s rated for a talk time of 4 and a half hours. Standby time is just six days, so make sure to charge your phone every night.
Though they're a little difficult to find at first, the T-Mobile Samsung T139 comes with the usual but handy utilities such as a calculator, alarm clock, calendar, task list etc. These tools are under the "Organizer" menu option.
You can set up to 3 alarms. Each alarm can be set on or off. You can choose which days of the week you want the alarm, and choose from among five different alarm tones. Once you choose the time, the alarm time shows up on your list with a bell next to it if it's on.
The calendar lets you create schedules, tasks, anniversaries, and miscellaneous events. You can view these in calendar format in month, week and day views, or you can just view your schedules as a list. Note that the default text entry mode both for the item name and description is T9 predictive text mode, but you can switch it to regular ABC or number mode (as I did).
Tasks are really part of the calendar, but it gets its own menu option for easier access. You set the task description. the start and due dates, the priority, and whether you want to set an alarm for it. For the alarm you can choose to have it go off a certain time a set number of days or weeks before the due date. For example, you can set it to sound 2 days before the due date at 9 am.
The calculator lets you perform basic math calculations. There are also a few trig and power functions if you want though they're not that convenient to use. It would be great if you could store the formula and then just plug in the numbers to repeat a calculation, but you can't. Still it's okay for checking the discount and comparing deals.
The tip calculator lets you calculate the tip by percentage (15% is set as the default) and split it equally amongst your friends.
You can set up two additional world time settings. However, you have to go all the way back to this menu setting to view them.
The unit converter works with currency, length, weight, volume, area, and temperature. For the currency converter, you first enter the conversion rate you want to use yourself, and then do the conversion. The default rates are set at roughly what they must have been at the time they programmed it.
The Samsung phones (as opposed to LG) all seem to come with a timer which I find more useful than a stopwatch. You can set the timer to countdown from as high as 99 hours, 59 minutes and 59 seconds.
There is a separate voice recorder that allows you to record up to fifteen minutes of audio. When you stop a recording, it is save to the voice list.
Four demo games are pre-installed on this phone. These games offer limited play. To play the full game, you have to buy them from T-Mobile.
This quiz game comes installed along with a couple of example 5th graders that you have to compete against. The demo version lets you play the game, but only lets you choose from the bottom 2 out of 5 levels which means four topics. I tried it out briefly and got my question (about Monarch butterflies) right. Yaay!
The demo version of Tetris lets you play for a few minutes. In other words the game ends before you hit the ceiling which defeats the purpose.
I didn't spend much time on it, but it looks like an interesting game if you're into pool.
If you're a fan of the show, you might like this game. The demo game I played featured the football-head-shaped kid trying shooting his weapons at the dog to get the money the dog owes him. Pretty good.
You can attach a photo to your phonebook contacts. This activates the Photo Caller ID feature so you can tell at a glance who’s calling. You can fill these fields in a contact: first name, last name, home, mobile, office and fax numbers, email address, ringtone, and picture id. There's also a Notes field for adding additional info like company name and where you met.
You can sort your contacts by first or last name.
You can add up to 8 speed dial numbers (1 is reserved for voicemail). To use speed dial, press and hold down the assigned number.
I was not able to pair the Samsung T139 with another phone, so that means you cannot transfer contacts via Bluetooth. You are only able to send contact or business card info via text or picture message.
You can easily set up a "block" list of phone numbers from which you don't want to receive calls. To add numbers to the list, just go to your call records, pick a number and click "Options -> Add to block list".
You can check out the Samsung T139 Manual (pdf) to find out more details about this phone.
When you activate the phone you get 10 minutes of airtime (on the pay as you go plan) which is long enough to make a couple of short calls to test that the phone is working. You can then add airtime refill card, from your phone or online. The good thing about the initial airtime is that it is good for full 90 days. So any airtime you add on top will extend your service time even further.
It is also available from PTel which uses the same network.
While the T139 is still available as of Dec. 2013, here are a few other choices
You can still get flip phone from most providers.
The S275g has a few quirks but has a better camera and is, therefore, still a good choice.
The Kyocera Kona offers a nicer screen and buttons though it has other limitations.
If you prefer texting, you may want to consider these options:
The Moto EX431g is more compact than most QWERTY phones.
The LG 500g on the other hand is narrower than most phone with a full set of keys.