The Samsung Transform is a mid-range Android device with a pull-out keyboard -- perfect if you like texting. But if you want to do anything else, it's a bit lacking.
The Transform is designed for you if you're a heavy texter or e-mailer. It sports a keyboard and generous 3.5-inch touch display, but the screen is rather dull when compared to AMOLED juggernauts like the Galaxy. Nonetheless, it's still bright, colorful and very responsive enough if your goal is texting.
Meanwhile, the full slide-out keyboard, with its large orange-and-white buttons, makes tapping out messages and updating social media simple. You can type with carefree accuracy, since keys give nice tactile feedback -- a feature not often present on most mid-range keyboards. The buttons are laid out well, with easy-to-find backspace, enter and okay buttons. You won't have to search much for punctuation or numbers, which is accessed through a function key, but a dedicated row would have been preferred. Regardless, there's a key for symbol and emoticon, so you can pick the perfect smiley.
The 3.2-megapixel camera, though, is a bit disappointing. Photos are decent under bright outdoor conditions, but are either too dark or too blown out indoors. The lens is a bit slow, so photos will blur if you have a shaky hand. There's a flash, but it does little to improve it. You've been warned. The camcorder isn't much better, and a measly VGA lens is used for pixelated video chat.
The Transform runs on Verizon's Ev-Do Rev. A network, for speedy 3.5G data rates, but oddly browsing can be a bit slow. However, several other features, such as Google Maps Navigation, load quickly and work well, as does a dedicated newsreader.
It also comes with Sprint ID, which lets you personalize your phone with apps, ringtones and widgets. You can get them all in one download, making it simple to use, especially if you don't have time to hunt down all the apps you need. The 800-megahertz processor is sufficiently fast, and apps load in just a few seconds.
The Transform runs on Android 2.1, with an upgrade on the way, but there aren't many entertainment apps preloaded. Fortunately, Android Market takes care of that. For example, Pandora streaming works well on the device, but its external speaker sounds empty -- and it doesn't improve much with headphones. So if you're a music fan, the low speaker quality is frustrating. Don't think about using the Transform as an MP3 player.
Overall, the Transform is a mid-range smartphone with a great keyboard -- just what you need if sending texts is important to you. But if you plan to take photos with your phone, this won't cut it. And it's awful for browsing the Internet, due the tendency to lag. So if you're a texter above all, the Transform will suit your needs, but if you want much of anything else, it'll disappoint you. ♦
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