Geek Foibles

Smartphone impressions: Samsung Moment
November 23, 2009, 3:59 pm
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The Samsung Moment wasn’t a phone I’d originally intended on test-driving, but it was on display immediately next to the Pre and it runs Android, so I decided to give it a go.  Software-wise it seemed pretty similar to the CLIQ I tried at T-Mobile, though it is a slightly older version (1.5 “Cupcake” instead of 1.6 “Donut”) so there are some small differences.  After my hands-on I learned that the Moment has an 800MHz processor that is supposedly much faster than its competitors, but I couldn’t tell while using it.  The keyboard was a bit laggy and scrolling was sometimes a bit herky-jerky, putting its performance merely on par with the other phones I’ve tried.

Build-wise I was unimpressed.  While it didn’t feel shoddy, it also didn’t feel as solid as I’d like.  There was a bit of give in the body when twisted and buttons wiggled a little more than I’d like them to, but overall there was nothing that gave me serious concern.  I’m beginning to suspect I’m simply spoiled by the iPhone’s rigidity, but regardless it’s the standard I’ve come to expect in that department.  Also, the headphone and USB jacks had those annoying little rubber covers you have to pick at to get off, which I really didn’t like.  Related to the build, the phone felt kind of big.  In terms of raw measurements it actually isn’t much bigger than my iPhone and isn’t dramatically heavier, but something about it just felt kind of clunky.  It might be its less-than-slick design, or the presence of the massive keyboard, but whatever it is it does make the phone seem a little hefty regardless of whether or not it actually is.

The keyboard is indeed huge, and it really set this phone apart from the others I’ve seen.  The numbers get their own row (unlike the Pre and the CLIQ), the keys aren’t in perfect, vertical, un-keyboard-like rows (unlike the Pre and the CLIQ), and the keys are big enough and have enough space between them to be usable by my big hands.  I found it one of the more comfortable hard keyboards I’ve used, and a big improvement over the Pre’s.  The keyboard layout, however, really wrecks what otherwise could have been my favorite keyboard so far.  The space bar is annoyingly inserted between the V and B keys, and the letters on the bottom row are aligned with the letters above them differently than a normal keyboard layout.  So you basically have to learn a new keyboard layout to type on this keyboard.  While I’m sure that could be accomplished with time, it was maddening to try to use it initially because my fingers kept going to the wrong places.  While I understand the placement of the space key is made tricky by the welcome addition of a dedicated row of number keys, I felt it was simply unwise to put the function and shift keys on the left where they bump the top and middle rows of letters out of place.

The phone seems like it has some advantage over the others on paper, but the real-world implementation really left me underwhelmed.  I’d be willing to overlook the dull design and obnoxious port covers if there weren’t any functional problems (e.g. the keyboard was improved), but as it is it’s just another point against the Moment.  Hopefully Samsung’s future Android efforts will improve.