Hands-on with the T-Mobile Samsung Behold II Google Android smartphone

I took a look at the Samsung Behold last year and as you may recall this is a high end feature phone with a high resolution camera. When I initially heard that T-Mobile was going to launch the Behold II in the Fall I didn't think much about it since I just thought it was some kind of minor update to a good feature phone. I then read more about the device and learned it was actually going to be powered by the Google Android OS and my interest was instantly piqued. The Samsung Behold II launched a couple of days ago on T-Mobile USA and is T-Mobile's fourth Google Android device, making them the US carrier with the most Android smartphones.

I took a look at the Samsung Behold last year and as you may recall this is a high end feature phone with a high resolution camera. When I initially heard that T-Mobile was going to launch the Behold II in the Fall I didn't think much about it since I just thought it was some kind of minor update to a good feature phone. I then read more about the device and learned it was actually going to be powered by the Google Android OS and my interest was instantly piqued. The Samsung Behold II launched a couple of days ago on T-Mobile USA and is T-Mobile's fourth Google Android device, making them the US carrier with the most Android smartphones. Check out a few product photos in my image gallery and the video walk through the Behold II below.


Image Gallery:Check out a few product photos of the Samsung Behold II on T-Mobile.
Image Gallery: Behold II in hand
Image Gallery: Cube UI

As I pulled the Samsung Behold II out of the box, I was immediately impressed by its solid feel in my hand. It is pretty thing and has no real curves on the top or bottom with just rounded corners. There are actually quite a few buttons on the front below the display, which is a bit unusual given the minimalist designs many companies seem to be using today. I was really blown away after turning on the device and seeing the OLED display shine with vivid colors. You can see Samsung added in some of their widgety design elements and personally I didn't find them to add a ton of value to the Android platform and have just never been much of a fan of the TouchWiz interface while some people may absolutely love it.

Specifications of the Samsung Behold II (T939)

  • Quad band GSM (850/900/1800/1900 MHz) and dual band UMTS/HSPA (1700/2100 MHz)
  • 256MB RAM/512MB ROM
  • 3.2 inch AMOLED 320x480 pixels resolution display supporting 16 million colors and capacitive touch elements
  • Standard 528 MHz processor
  • Google Android 1.5 operating system
  • 5 megapixel digital camera
  • microSD expansion card slot with 2GB card included
  • 3.5mm headset jack
  • WiFi and Bluetooth radios
  • Integrated GPS receiver
  • 1500 mAh battery
  • Dimensions: 4.57 x 2.20 x 0.48 inches and 4.23 ounces

The specs are typical for a Google Android device with the OLED display being the main unique feature. 528 MHz has proven to bog down a bit with Android, but so far it has done OK on the Behold II.

Box contents

The box is a typical square T-Mobile package with some thick manuals that weigh it down quite a bit. Inside the box you will find the Behold II, battery, charger, USB cable, wired stereo headset, 2GB microSD card, slip cover case, and manuals.

Hardware

It is tough to argue that the OLED display is not eye catching and pleasing in most situations. I rarely use my device in full sunlight so this is not a concern for me and being here in Washington I haven't been able to test it out. Below the display on the front is an assortment of hardware buttons for send, end, menu, back, Home, and Cube. The Cube is part of the TouchWiz user interface that I will talk a bit about in the software section below. The directional pad is round making me think it might rotate, but it doesn't. The center button is an action/selection button too.

The volume button is on the upper left side with a lanyard opening along the top of the left side. There is a camera button and lock button on the right side. The lock button is flush and takes a conscious effort to press, which I guess is a good thing so you don't accidentally press it when holding the device.

A 3.5mm headset jack is adjacent to a microUSB port on the top and I was very pleased that there were no proprietary Samsung ports on the Behold II. MicroUSB is the new standard for syncing and charging so I am always happy to see one on devices.

Rather than a plain back, Samsung placed a map of the Earth on the back in gold. There is a speaker on the bottom with the 5 megapixel camera and flash light on the upper left side. The entire back cover comes off to reveal the battery, SIM, and microSD card slots.

There are also haptics so when you tap the screen you can get a vibration feedback if you have it enabled and it is be default.

Software

As soon as you turn on the Samsung Behold II you can tell that someone messed around with the interface since there are four designated areas along the bottom for Dialer, Contacts, Web, and Quick List. These four areas appear across all three standard Android Home panels and I haven't found a way to customize them. Access to the loaded applications is present on the left side as a window shade that appears when you tap the small arrow. You can also see a small indicator at the top to let you know which of the three panels you are currently on.

Pressing the Cube button takes you to a full screen cube/dice icon that has music, photos, videos, web browser, YouTube, and Amazon MP3 icons on it. You can rotate the cube with your finger or flip the device around for quick rolling of the dice/cube. It is more of a gimmick than anything else and while I can see how people may like it, I am not sure a hardware button was needed to be dedicated to it. Then again, it is an essential part of the TouchWiz UI and does make the device appear different than the other Google Android devices on T-Mobile.

This is a Google Android device so you can still add shortcuts, widgets, and folders to the Home screen panels and change the wallpaper. The Samsung Behold II is highly customizable, like any other Android device, with a few areas locked in place by Samsung. You will see that Samsung customized many of the menus throughout the device when compared to a standard Android device like the G1 or myTouch 3G. It seems most are optimized to be easier for the consumer.

I do not like the standard Android keyboards and have been spoiled by fantastic ones found on the HTC Hero variants. I would never buy an Android device without a keyboard unless it had the HTC Hero type of soft input keyboard loaded on it.

Pricing and availability

The Samsung Behold II is available now for $229.99 with the Even More 2-year agreement or $449.99 with the Even More Plus no-contract plan. I think $199 is the sweet spot for most all smartphones and the Behold II should be priced lower than the $230, IMHO.