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Debuting on T-Mobile just a couple short weeks after the Samsung Highlight touch-screen phone, the Samsung Comeback adds a powerful messaging-centric device to the carrier’s relatively scanty texter’s lineup. While the Comeback is built for messaging, it offers an impressive feature set including a full HTML browser, GPS, a 2-megapixel camera with some advanced options, and support for T-Mobile’s 3G network.
The Comeback comes in what Samsung is calling Pearl White Plum as well as Frost Silver Cherry – basically an eggplant purple and, well, a cherry red on the inside with a white external casing. While closed the Comeback looks like an unusually wide and basic candy bar phone, flipping the device open reveals a sizeable internal screen and full QWERTY keyboard.
Though beauty is no doubt in the eye of the beholder, the Comeback is far from the sexiest messaging device to come along in recent memory. The handset looks almost like an awkward reincarnation of the T-Mobile Sidekick, minus the touch screen. But hey, there’s certainly something to be said for being unique and different, and the Comeback has that going for it in spades.
Measuring approximately 4.3 inches long, 2.2 inches wide and .75 inches thick, the Comeback is slightly on the brawny side, but is still perfectly pocketable and feels good in the palm of the hand. Open, the Comeback is a perfect length to allow both thumbs to comfortably navigate the keyboard and menu keys.
The front of the device features a 1.0-inch color OLED display that, at just 128×128 pixel resolution, gets the job done just fine but is certainly on the dull side. There’s also a standard dial pad, along with a four-way directional key, two soft keys for menu selection, a camera shortcut key, and send/end keys.
The left of the device hosts a volume rocker, as well as a Samsung-proprietary port for charging and synching. The port also accepts a pair of (included) headphones, but as is becoming a bit tiresome as more and more manufacturers elect to include 3.5mm headphone jacks, the Comeback does not sport a standard headphone jack. On the right, the internal soft keys are fully visible along with the sturdy hinge that gives the device its smooth flipping abilities.
The inside is home to a bright 2.7-inch display that puts the external screen to shame. The screen features 240×400 pixel resolution, and is bright, crisp, and colorful. The internal navigational array is similar to the front’s setup, with the two soft keys directly below the screen and the addition of a messaging shortcut key.
The Comeback’s full QWERTY offers a dedicated ‘.com’ key as well an emoticons button if you’re into that kind of thing. The keys are nicely spaced, and are satisfactorily raised to make them relatively easy to press. They are, however, unusually narrow which makes rapid-fire texting somewhat error prone, particularly for users with bigger thumbs.
Flipping the device open, you are greeted with a menu providing quick access to myFaves, the inbox, browser, applications, and My Account feature. If myFaves is disabled, the icon will be replaced by a shortcut providing access to the music player.
Tapping the left soft key launches a full 3D carousel menu with icons for Messaging, Media, Settings, Organizer, Call History and People. The same carousel menu can be accessed from the external screen when the device is closed. Additional phone features such as an RSS reader, stopwatch and more are hidden under the Organizer icon.
Although the Comeback offers a perfectly satisfactory messaging experience in most ways, it is pretty basic with little that would give it a leg up over any other messaging-centric device. The texting interface is simplistic, with the usual options as well as the ability to easily attach a photo, video clip, or sound. While you can jump to your contacts menu to search for and add a recipient, there’s no live search ability in the ‘To’ field to begin typing in the name of a contact to pull up a list if possibilities. Unfortunately, there’s also no ability for message threading, requiring each message to appear individually instead of in a conversation view.
The Comeback offers mobile email, supporting AIM, AOL, Yahoo!, Comcast, CS, Gmail, Juno, Mac, and Verizon accounts. You can also attempt to enter in your address and password for an unsupported email account, and the handset will tryto connect to the account. You can’t, however, enter in POP or IMAP server information if the device is unable to connect. The email interface is extremely basic, and will only satisfy those looking for the occasional ability to check and send email on-the-go.
The handset also supports instant messaging using AIM, Windows Live, or Yahoo! messenger clients.
For a messaging phone of its ilk, the Comeback offers a fairly impressive full HTML browser. The browser loaded content relatively quickly over T-Mobile’s 3G network, and did a great job rendering mobile editions of popular websites like CNN without a problem. The browser had a little more trouble rendering complex pages, and getting to the zoom function required trolling around the menu and also sometimes had trouble zooming out fully on a page. The browser is equipped with Flash Lite, allowing for playback of streaming video from YouTube and the like. Unfortunately, there’s no on-screen cursor, so navigation is performed by painstakingly moving between each link on a page – often a slow process.
The music player application – which can be accessed and controlled with the Comeback open or closed – offers a strong media experience. Of course, you can view music tracks by album or artist, or all tracks together. There’s no ability to search for a track, though. The Comeback offers the ability to create and edit playlists on the fly, as well as provides repeat and shuffle modes, multiple equalizer settings, and the ability to rate tracks. There’s 75MB of on-board storage, but a microSD card slot can be found underneath the battery, with capacity for up to a 16GB card for plenty of additional space. The device also sports stereo Bluetooth.
As can be expected, the Comeback’s 2-megapixel camera takes OK but not great pictures. While there’s no self-portrait mirror or flash, the Comeback does offer an impressive array of camera settings and options. The Comeback offers five shooting modes, including single, continuous, panorama, smile shot (snap’s the picture when it detects a smile), and mosaic. Other options include five white balance presets, multiple color effects, a self- timer and more. Pictures can be taken in four resolutions (1,600×1200, 1280×960, 640×480, and 320×240 pixels). After snapping a picture, you can choose to record a short voice clip to attach to the image to provide a caption of sorts. The device is also easily switched into camcorder mode, providing similar settings as the camera, and allowing video to be taken in either 320×240 or 176×144 resolutions.
The Samsung comeback is equipped with GPS, providing turn-by-turn directions using TeleNav GPS Navigator. The device also provides a calendar, alarm clock, tasks list, memo pad, standard and tip calculator, world clock, unit converter, timer, stopwatch, RSS reader and voice recognition. The Comeback comes pre-installed with demo versions of Need for Speed Undercover and Monopoly Here and Now. You can also download additional games and apps through T-Mobile’s web2go interface.
It’s what’s on the inside that counts, right? Well, the Samsung Comeback may not have the prettiest face or the best QWERTY to ever grace T-Mobile’s lineup, but it has full feature set that includes 3G, a full HTML browser with support for streaming video, GPS navigation, and a camera with a good deal of options.