Samsung's Relay is a solid mid-range phone, and if you're sick of using a touch screen keypad, its physical QWERTY slider is a handy alternative. For people who want an Android with a hardware keyboard, the Relay is a decent option, though many of its other features fail to impress.
The Relay lacks the top-tier features of the Galaxy S3, but they look similar from the front. The Relay is significantly thicker, since it comes with a slide-out keyboard, but they share the same plastic body, rounded corners and bottom buttons. It doesn't look like a premium device, but it's sturdy, and the keyboard slides in and out without a hitch.
The five-row keyboard comes with a dedicated row for numbers, and its buttons are well-spaced and responsive. It's one of the better QWERTYs on the market, and if you're prioritizing texting over other features, the Relay knocks it out of the park, so you won't be disappointed.
The 4-inch Super AMOLED screen is one of the nicer aspects -- aside from the keypad, of course -- and the display is clear and bright, with vibrant colors and sharp definition.
Less impressive: the 5-megapixel camera, which takes unexceptional photos. It's not terrible, but colors are muted and dull in dim light, and photos get washed out in the sun. The 1.3-megapixel front-facing camera is fine for chatting on Skype, but it's equally unremarkable, and the 720p video recording is also adequate but uninspired. You won't take impressive video, but you won't have any trouble watching video either. The display is up to the task, and Samsung preloads its Mobile TV app, which makes streaming even easier.
And as far as apps go, the Relay has plenty of options -- in addition to the preloaded Samsung apps, you can choose from a wide variety of apps at the Google Play store. The Relay runs on Android's Ice Cream Sandwich, and while it's not quite the latest, it's still fairly up-to-date, and definitely still easy-to-use. With Jelly Bean only available on a handful of devices, it's hard to fault the Relay for coming with ICS, especially since it's not a high-end flagship entry.
And if you're looking at the Relay for business, Samsung gave it a SAFE-certification, which means it's prepped for enterprise work with added encryption options and Microsoft Exchange ActiveSync support. It supports Wi-Fi calling and has amped-up VPN capabilities, so the Relay is geared up for heavy business-related use. The 1.5-gigahertz dual-core Snapdragon processor keeps everything running smoothly, as well, cementing the Relay's position as a highly functional device.
Now, the "4G" in the Relay's name may be a little misleading -- it doesn't run on LTE, which is 4G, but actually on T-Mobile's 3.5G HSPA-plus network, which the carrier counts as 4G via marketing. So you'll be connected on a quick network, but it won't be as blistering-fast as AT&T and Verizon's 4G networks.
Overall, the Relay isn't the flashiest phone, but if you want a keyboard and are looking for a mid-range device, it should make you happy. ♦
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