Samsung Repp - red (U.S. Cellular)
CNET Editors' Rating: 3.0 / 5
The good: The Samsung Repp has all the basics you'd expect in an Android 2.3 Gingerbread phone, and a great price: free.
The bad: Be forewarned of the Repp's entry-level specs. The phone's call quality, speed, and camera are all serviceable, but the mediocre quality is noticeable, and the screen is too small.
The bottom line: The Samsung Repp offers a decent set of features for the free price, but it's worth shopping around for other U.S. Cellular deals.
Design, Features & Performance (out of 10)
I'm all for carriers offering free phones, especially if it's a coveted smartphone, but as is the case with these things, what you pay for is usually what you get. The Samsung Repp for U.S. Cellular hits the adage on the head. It's a perfect free phone: reliable thanks to Android 2.3 Gingerbread as its operating system, but the hardware is entry level, and best suited for those who won't pick their phone apart with critical eyes.
The Repp is small, with just a 3.2-inch touch screen; the 3.2-megapixel camera takes decent outdoor shots (but that's about it); and there's a 2GB microSD card already preinstalled. U.S. Cellular customers who sign on for a new, two-year contract can pick up the Repp at no charge--after a $100 mail-in rebate. If you buy it without a commitment, it'll cost $139.99.
Here's another trend in phone design: the more basic the features, the splashier the paint job. The Repp may not have the most going on under the hood, but at least it's nice to look at. An appealing berry shade rings the face and back cover, where it's also slightly dimpled. The wide, flat spines and the top and bottom are a matte silver color, and the Home button on the phone's face has a brushed black finish that makes it look a cut above glossy plastic buttons. I also like the way that the cover to the microSD card slot fits snugly into place.
The handset itself is on the small side, just 4.35 inches tall by 2.26 inches wide by 0.48 inch thick. It weighs a reasonable 3.72 ounces. The Repp's 3.2-inch HVGA screen is on the small side, with a 320x480-pixel QVGA resolution. It's serviceable in terms of color and brightness, but it's hardly exciting and washes out in direct sunlight. I don't recommend getting too rough with the screen, or doing what I'm about to describe. But if you place a finger on the screen and push down while dragging, you'll see a black trail that follows the path of your fingertip.
One interesting tidbit of the Repp is that it runs Android 2.3 Gingerbread without any additional skins; that's something that will appeal to Android purists. There are five home screens on the phone, as well as the typical vertical scrolling in the app tray that you get with unadulterated Android.
Below the display are just three navigation buttons: the touch-sensitive menu and back buttons, and the physical button that serves for Home and Select. On the right spine you'll find the power button and microSD card slot. Up top is the 3.5mm headset jack, and the volume rocker is on the left. Look for the Micro-USB charging port on the bottom when battery runs low. The camera lens on the back will produce a 3.2-megapixel image.
When it comes to all the features, the Repp is back to basics. Android Gingerbread brings a sense of unity and familiarity, plus the assurance that the device will come with Wi-Fi, GPS, Bluetooth, text and multimedia messaging, and a variety of e-mail and social networking options. There's also access to more than 300,000 downloadable apps in the Android Market to complement the essential programs like the clock, calendar, calculator, browser, and music player.
That isn't to say there aren't other apps preloaded; a completely bare phone would be unheard of, even if you overlook Google's contributions to every Android handset. These include the now-typical Maps with turn-by-turn voice navigation, search, books, Places, and YouTube.
Other apps get you started as well, though these number fewer than on some other Android phones. You'll find Amazon.com and a link to Amazon's app store, a Gameloft-sponsored link to its games that are compatible with the Repp, and Audible.com for procuring audio content, such as books. There's also CityID and Daily Perks, U.S. Celluar's daily deals app, contacts backup, Think Free Office, a ringtone app, and an Uno game demo.
The Repp has a 3.2-megapixel camera, which is about the best you can expect for a phone that's only costing you a two-year oath of loyalty to the carrier. There's no autofocus and no flash, and so long as the subject is awash in light, the photos are actually pretty good. Colors aren't as intense or as true, and there's some loss of detail when you blow up the image on a computer screen, but to upload to a Web site, send to friends, or add as a contact image, a top-flight lens is overkill anyway.
That said, I do need to point out some of the camera's limitations. Since there's no autofocus, you need to keep still while taking the shot. Shutter lag wasn't terribly slow, but the software itself takes a moment to process. Both an overabundance of natural and artificial lights confused the sensors, making those very well-lit indoor and outdoor photos flatter, duller, and lower in contrast. In other indoor shots, colors were pretty accurate and not too over- or undersaturated. Strangely, the camera gave an odd glow to one photo I snapped indoors of a coworker's plastic and metal toy structure.
Video is also workable, though nothing extraordinary. Recorded voices had a harsh buzzy quality, and video capture wasn't exactly smooth. Still, it'll work in a pinch. The Repp takes up to 32GB of expandable memory and has a 2GB microSD card preloaded.
I tested the dual-band (CDMA 800/1900) Samsung Repp in San Francisco using U.S. Cellular's roaming network. Call quality was clear and strong, when there was no digital distortion. Unfortunately, that occurred often in my test calls, and sounded like the audio was bubbling and bursting. Sometimes it also sounded like voices cut in and out a bit. There were no complaints with volume, though, a big plus. On their end, friends agreed about volume and reported a little distortion. They said my voice sounded unnatural, but acceptable.
Samsung Repp call quality sample Listen now:
Your search for a great speakerphone will not end here. Volume was low, even cranked up to max, and even with a little background noise in my office, I had trouble hearing callers on the other end. Although the distortion ended, the handset buzzed whenever the caller spoke. In its favor, callers sounded natural and had a rich voice quality that speakerphone almost always lacks. On their end, callers reported volume too low to be actually usable, and often asked me to repeat myself. With that issue solved, quality would be otherwise good.
The internal speed and data speeds were like the rest of the phone: fair. With an 800MHz processor, the Repp chugged along, just taking a moment or two here and there to process more-complex tasks. The 3G speeds lumbered along in my tests, but weren't so slow I wanted to pull out my hair--mostly. It took over a minute to load CNET's mobile-optimized site (more than once), but less than that to load CNET's full site. The New York Times' mobile site appeared in just over 15 seconds, with the full site mostly filling in at under 30 seconds. I also snapped open Speedtest.net to check out the diagnostic report. Results came in at between 0.1 and 0.3Mbps down, not very impressive, but also not wholly unexpected.
The Repp has a rated battery life of up to 8 hours on its 1,500mAh lithium ion battery, and up to 12.5 days of standby time. According to FCC radiation tests, the handset also has a digital SAR of 0.98 watt per kilogram.
Whether you consider the Samsung Repp boils down to a couple of conditions: if you aren't fussed by its small size, its more simple outlook, or the lower-capacity everything, it's probably the right on-contract price. Android keeps it up-to-date, but I wouldn't be surprised if Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich is late to the Repp, or even passes it by (nothing has been announced yet). If it's a higher-performing phone you're after, keep looking. The Samsung Mesmerize is far more powerful, upgradable to Android 2.3 (it's Froyo right out-of-the-box), and at the time of this review, it was also being offered for free, after meeting some activation requirements.
Average User Rating: 3.0 / 5
User Rating Breakdown
5 Star: 1
4 Star: 1
3 Star: 0
2 Star: 0
1 Star: 0
Simple and to the point
Rating: 3.5 / 5
on June 25, 2012
0 out of 0 users found this review helpful
Pros: Small size
Available 32GB SD data card
Headset & Bluetooth volume is clear
Phone is quick for what it is
Speaker sounds amazing - music & voices sound very good
QWERTY keyboard is good when used horizonta
Cons: Has frozen completely twice - I've owned it for 2 months though.
Camera isn't great & no front facing camera.
Battery drains very fast even with an app killer
Speakerphone can drift in and out at times
small screen = small keyboard
Display washes out
Summary: It's pretty basic - I didn't want anything over the top or too complex.
Call quality is very good & it surfs the web just fine. Navigation works well.
Does what I need it to do without costing an arm & a leg.
I got a red Trident Aegis case and the phone looks really good & is well protected - I get compliments on it all the time.
Good mid range android
Rating: 5 / 5
on April 15, 2012
0 out of 0 users found this review helpful
Pros: read summary
Cons: read summary
Summary: One good affordable smartphone. Good camera, good apps, fast processor. I bet its a good deal for alltel.