I am a bit jealous of those that live in areas covered by regional carriers such as U.S. Cellular because they enjoy some excellent perks and benefits from carriers who really care about their customers. Lately, these regional carriers have also been getting the latest and greatest smartphones to offer to their customers and in some cases, such as the HTC Desire, even getting devices better than the four major carriers. Samsung is hitting it out of the ballpark with their Galaxy S lineup rolling out across the US wireless carriers and I had the pleasure of checking out the Samsung Mesmerize (a Galaxy S device) for US Cellular. Check out my image gallery with a few photos of the Samsung Mesmerize, my video below walking through a few aspects of the device, and my thoughts after using the Mesmerize for several days.
I gave a brief introduction of U.S. Cellular in my HTC Desire hands-on article and since that time they launched The Belief Project. As you can see on the site, The Belief Project includes benefits such as one contract and done, easy phone replacement, overage protection, faster phone upgrades, battery swap, and more benefits that really focus on the consumer.
In the box and first impressions
The Samsung Mesmerize comes in a fairly typical solidly built white cardboard box that we have seen from HTC before, similar to the Google Nexus One, with the Desire shown in full color on the front and stats on the back. Inside the box you will find the Desire, battery, 8GB microSD card, wired stereo headset, USB cable, and USB A/C adapter along with a Quick Start Guide and some other pamphlets.
I have held and used the Samsung Vibrant, Captivate, and Epic 4G and think the Mesmerize feels most similar to the Vibrant with a higher quality feel and a LED flash with the camera.
Specifications for the Samsung Mesmerize include the following:
Android 2.1 with TouchWIZ user interface
1GHz Samsung Hummingbird processor
CDMA 2000 1xRTT/EVDO 800/1900 MHz
2GB integrated flash and microSD card (16GB included)
4 inch WVGA (800x480) capacitive Super AMOLED touch display
5 megapixel camera with LED flash
Proximity sensor, light sensor and digital compass
Wi-Fi (802.11 b/g/n)
1500 mAh battery
3.5 mm headset jack
Dimensions: 4.92 x 2.53 x 0.39 inches and 4.16 ounces
As you can see, these specifications are almost the same as the other Galaxy S devices with the camera flash and memory configuration being slightly different than some other models. This is a very capable phone that should also be getting the Android 2.2 Froyo update soon (I heard it may be early 2011).
There are some differences in software, such as the apparent lack of the Samsung Media Hub service and addition of Nuance's voice command software. I understand that Samsung Media Hub will come to the Mesmerize with the Android 2.2 update.
Walk around the hardware
Like the other Samsung Galaxy S smartphones the front of the Mesmerize is dominated by the brilliant 4 inch Super AMOLED display. The U.S. Cellular logo and name are centered above the display with the words Samsung below it. There are four touch sensitive buttons along the bottom in the order of Menu, Home, Back, and Search. The front is one flush black piece of glass.
In typical Samsung fashion there is a power button on the right and volume button on the left. The microphone opening is on the bottom with the 3.5mm headset jack and microUSB port, with slider door, on the top.
The 5 megapixel camera and LED flash are on the left side of the back with Galaxy S branding on the lower right. Strangely, the mono speaker is on the lower left of the back.
Walk through the software and services
The Samsung Mesmerize is powered by a 1 GHz Samsung Hummingbird processor and everything I did with it flew. There are a few custom U.S. Cellular apps such as City ID, MyContacts Backup, Task Manager, Voice Recorder, and Wireless Modem. You will also find well known apps like TeleNav's Your Navigator Deluxe and ThinkFree Office.
Google Maps works well and I saw fixes appearing within just a few seconds of starting the application. The Car Cradle utility is a slick way to quickly access Google Maps, Voice Search, Contacts, and Search functions. Launching the Desk Cradle utility puts the phone into landscape mode with a large clock with weather and some simple shortcuts along the bottom. These shortcuts include alarm, Voice Search, Gallery, Daily Briefing, and Music.
Pricing, availability, and thoughts on my experiences
The Samsung Mesmerize is available now from U.S. Cellular for $199.95 after $80 mail-in rebate and Belief Plan with data or 2-year committment.
Their Android data plans are $30 for data and $55 for data and tethering (5GB limit), with a voice plan. Voice plans start as low as $39.99 for 450 minutes up to $69.99 for unlimited national plan minutes. There are several plan options and their rates are very competitive.
I enjoyed using the Mesmerize, much like the other Galaxy S devices, and found it to be the best non-QWERTY Galaxy S device I have tried.