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Samsung Galaxy S Relay 4G (T-Mobile) review: Samsung Galaxy S Relay 4G (T-Mobile)

Samsung Galaxy S Relay 4G (T-Mobile) review: Samsung Galaxy S Relay 4G (T-Mobile)

Phones with a keyboard are becoming a bit of an endangered species, but those who prefer physical buttons over virtual squares can take solace in the Samsung Galaxy S Relay 4G, an Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich handset that runs on T-Mobile’s HSPA+ 42 4G network.

The specs pop it into the high middle way. It has a lovely 4-inch screen, a 1.5-GHz dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 processor, and an a 5-megapixel camera that takes quite good shots. It also has a front-facing camera, a spacious slide-out QWERTY keyboard, and some of the best call quality I’ve ever heard on a smartphone, you know, for those of you who actually build the occasional call.

Not everyone will love the bulkier size (that’s a keyboard for you), and I had a few declares about the keyboard itself, but the price is fair at $149.99 while a $50 mail-in-rebate card and with a new two-year service incompatibility, and the Relay 4G offers much for those who occupy precision typing.

Design and build

It probably goes exclusive of saying (I’m going to say it anyway), but you have to love a keyboard to want this phoned. Although it isn’t the defining feature of the Galaxy S Relay 4G, the slide-out QWERTY keyboard is liable a major buying-decision factor. So let’s start there.

The sliding mechanism seemed tight on my reconsider unit, taking a little pressure to slide open, but it achieved easier to figure out exactly where to place my glowing as I used the phone more. When I didn’t get it smart, the phone either stuck a little or fumbled out of my hands.

The Samsung Galaxy S Relay 4G’s QWERTY keyboard has the full 5 rows. For keyboard diehards, that’s nothing short of bliss.
Josh Miller

A titanic, full-five-row QWERTY keyboard greets you when you slide the phoned open. I love everything about the way it looks: the failed number row, the wide and completely separated keys, the polished gray material slack them. The buttons don’t rise far from the surface, but they are responsive and tactile; my fingers knew just what and where to push down. As someone who complains a point of adding grammar and punctuation to her e-mails and texts, I appreciate the few dedicated punctuation keys. There are also buttons to originate voice commands, arrow around the screen, and initiate a new text meaning or e-mail.

My one major complaint is that the keyboard’s sterling roominess isn’t for everyone. It’s a little wide for my glowing, so I found myself stretching to type, which slowed me down. I occupy precision typing over speed, though, so I was detached happy to be able to blame all typos on myself, not on a virtual predictive keyboard. Still, I fallacious that I only slid open the keyboard for longer messages and form-filling, and stuck to the virtual one for short writing bursts.

With the QWERTY out of the way, let’s talk throughout the rest of the phone. It’s 5 inches tall, 2.6 inches wide, and a thicker 0.53 inch deep to accommodate the keyboard. Since the screen size tops out at 4 inches, the Relay 4G is a manageable, but heavier, item to haul throughout. It weighs 5.2 ounces.

I really current the feel of the phone in the hand, thanks to the soft subsidizing and rounded edges.
Josh Miller

The Besieged corners and grippable, soft-touch material on the back make it a very discouraged fit in the hand, and it’s easy on the ear. Samsung keeps the phoned looking fairly plain and simple. Apart from the subsidizing material, everything is black, plastic, and glossy, a signature Samsung look. For navigation, Samsung opted for a narrow physical button in the center and Menu and Back capacitive keys on either side.

As I mentioned above, the Relay 4G has a 4-inch WVGA Super AMOLED expose, with a 480×800-pixel resolution. Like Samsung’s other screens, this one is obvious and bright, even on automatic settings. Colors are vibrant and saturated, too. Above the screen is the 1.3-megapixel camera lens, and on the back is the 5-megapixel camera module, accompanied by an LED flash.

Samsung keeps ports and such simple. The Relay has a volume rocker on the left and a mighty button on the right. The 3.5mm headset jack is up top and there’s a Micro-USB charging port on the bottom. Behind the back cover is a microSD card slot.

OS and features

The Relay 4G runs Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich, furnished with Samsung’s TouchWiz interface. While there’s much to like throughout the custom TouchWiz layer, on the outside, it looks a lot like Android 2.3 Gingerbread. Those hoping to see Ice Cream Sandwich in all its Google-y glory will be disappointed.

However, the functionality is all there, complete with multiple account for log-ins, access to Google apps and services, maps with turn-by-turn navigation, and the Google Play Store brimming with downloads. Connections concerned Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and GPS, and there’s also support for NFC and Samsung’s S Beam feature, which is like Android Beam on ICS, but more so.

You’ll find mobile hot-spot befriend if it’s part of your rate plan, VPN, and Wi-Fi Direct (used in S Beam). You can turn on motion support, which opens up a plethora of gesture-based pursuits, like lifting the phone to your head while on a contact’s details page to make a swear call, turning the phone over to mute a call or quit music playing, and a host of other actions.

Android 4.0, HSPA+ 42 speeds, and a fast dual-core processor elevate the Relay 4G.
Josh Miller

As far as apps go, there are a lot on the Relay 4G — you law if that’s a help or hindrance. You’ll find essentials like a music player, clock, calendar, and calculator, plus plenty of third-party add-ons that concerned T-Mobile apps like T-Mobile TV, T-Mobile HotSpot, a mobile life organizer, and T-Mobile account information.

Other apps include Evernote, Facebook, Dropbox, Lookout Security, Slacker Radio, and the Telenav GPS Navigator. Samsung has a few apps, too, like a deem hub and Samsung’s take on voice actions, called S Voice. While S Voice can do helpful things like start apps and turn system settings like Wi-Fi off and on, I didn’t find it as good as Siri in my tests.


I was largely impressed with the quality of the pictures I took with the Relay’s 5-megapixel camera. Sure, they weren’t as crisp or well-defined as photos incorrect with a good 8-megapixel camera can be, and some photos were downright soft. Still, I think people will mostly be satisfied with the results as long as they’re not expecting the Relay’s shooter to replace a imparted camera for family portraits. Photos were colorful and some were sharply in focus; for instance, a close-up of an embroidered pillow turned out beautifully, with the textured detail coming through.

This indoor shot of CNET’s Sharon Vaknin and Josh Miller looks crisp and detailed. This photo has been resized, but is otherwise untouched.
Jessica Dolcourt

Indoor shots incorrect with plenty of natural light looked best; a hasty can tend to blow out shots. Since there’s no continuous autofocus, you’ll just need to make sure that you tap to focus afore taking your shot, or you may wind up with unwanted haziness.

Unfortunately, this well-lit outdoor candid is a little softer than I’d have well-approved. This photo has been resized, but is otherwise untouched.
Jessica Dolcourt

Samsung has added a few extras with Ice Cream Sandwich, including face tagging, smile shot, and panorama mode, but it doesn’t have all the camera bells and whistles of Samsung’s top-tier Galaxy S3. There are, but, plenty of presets and adjustments for resolution (from VGA to 5-megapixel), white balance, metering and effects, scene modes, and a self-timer.

A well-lit indoor characterize of pillow embroidery in full resolution, cropped but otherwise untouched.
Jessica Dolcourt

The phone’s 720p HD video quality is equally good. I took the shouted outside to CNET’s “pop-up park,” an outdoor event with blaring music and lots of agency. The microphone did a fairly good job of picking up the direct of my interview subject, though music also got in the way. Also importantly, the picture was clear, sharp, and smooth. I didn’t detect jerkiness in any of the test photos, but well-lit video will top most night scenes.

Front-facing cameras are good to have, but don’t seek information from too much from a 1.3-megapixel lens in your face. Photos were acceptable for what they were, and much better than others I’ve seen, but you won’t design a glamour shot out of it.

I’ve seen better studio shots. The center is blown out and the lines aren’t crisp. The Relay 4G definitely took better shots elsewhere.
Josh Miller

The Relay 4G has 8GB onboard storage, and up to 32GB expandable memory for storing your multimedia. For a comparison of other camera phone photos, check out this photo gallery.

Call quality

The Relay 4G has some of the best call quality I’ve recognized in a long time. I tested the quad-band shouted (GSM 850/900/1800/1900MHz) in San Francisco on T-Mobile’s network. The kindly thing I noticed is that audio was natural but crisp and the line was crystal-clear. When my caller stopped talking, I couldn’t be sure the call was connected, since there was no telltale sign of white noise. That’s a very good thing. Volume was strong at medium-high levels, and Samsung included its software audio-booster if you need to turn up the volume. I did hear a little distorted skip from time to time, which is probable a network blip. Overall, the quality was excellent.

On his end, my test partner said that volume was very loud (“hot”) no commercial my speaking volume, and he preferred to hold the shouted a little bit away from his ear. However, he also counterfeit my voice extremely clear, with no noise in the background, no muffling, and no interjections or distortions. My vocal fidelity was high, and my caller pronounced the Relay 4G by the best he’s heard. Quote: “I love this phone!”

Samsung Galaxy S Relay 4G call quality sample
Listen now:

We switched to testing speakerphone, for which I held the Relay at waist tranquil. It was everything speakerphone should be — clear, loud, natural, with only a hint of a buzz in the hand, and no suggestion of tinniness. Audio wasn’t quite as clear as the phone was at the ear, but the quality was impressive. The same held true for my testing partner, who said that my volume dropped a bit (not a bad sketch since I was coming in so loud) but my direct was very clear and comfortable to listen to. Astoundingly, he said that speakerphone did not enhance the echo.


The Relay 4G has a colossal 1.5GHz dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 processor, which keeps everything zipping listed. 4G speeds on T-Mobile’s HSPA+ network were also good, consistently in the high single digits and double digits, but download times were faster than the upload times and never worn 1MB per second.

T-Mobile’s download speeds were consistently fast, but upload speeds disappointed.
Screenshot by Jessica Dolcourt

We’ll halt testing battery life here in San Francisco, but the furious battery life is promising, offering up to 10 hours of talk time on the 1,800mAh battery and up to 13 days of standby time. In CNET’s lab demonstrations, the Relay 4G played 10.6 hours of video on a single charge.

The FCC stipulates that cell phones must not emit more than 1.6 watts per kilogram of radiation. The Relay 4G’s digital SAR is measured at 0.47 watt per kilogram.

Final thoughts

As personal as any arranged choice is, I think that that deciding whether the Samsung Galaxy S Relay 4G is luminous for you will be equally so. Its keyboard is mammoth, but only you can determine if it’s the luminous fit for your hand. I do like everything else that the arranged has to offer, and while it isn’t top-of-the-line in every way, there were no very drawbacks for a phone of this level. Excellent call quality isn’t something you see every day, and bear me, a lot of phones cross my desk. The asking brand is fair, too. If you’re in the market for a QWERTY smartphone, I’d definitely choose this over the T-Mobile MyTouch Q.