Launched exactly two years ago, one of the first handsets from the Beat series, Samsung T539 can now be tagged as a low-budget clamshell. At the time of its release, T539 was set to deliver a rich multimedia experience to its users. The design and features clearly suggest that it targets fans of music phones. Surprisingly, Samsung T539 hasn't been discontinued and can still be bought. Thanks to PureMobile
, we will be turning back in time and check out what this music phone has to offer and if it's still a viable solution by these days’ standards.
Announced in October 2007, Samsung T539 Beat
was made available on the market in the same month. For the moment, the clamshell can be acquired for only 80 USD, but you might have a hard time finding it.Design
If I were to judge T539's design by today’s standards, I wouldn't be able to tell you anything positive about it, but looking at how clamshells were two years ago, I have to say that it must have been a hit. The big rounded external loudspeaker on the front hints directly at the purpose of this handset – music playback. The only thing that might disappoint users is the cheap plastic used for manufacture. Even though it's well polished and shiny, the whole case will be full of grease and fingerprints from the moment you start using it. Still, I think that this will be a little bit hard to notice, thanks to the black color of the case.
Samsung T-539 features two TFT displays, which are very small compared to the latest handsets launched by the Korean company. Just above the secondary display on the front, you will see a small 1.3-meagapixel camera protected by a thin plastic. Below the small screen, there's a "huge" external loudspeaker, together with some dedicated music keys, enabling users to control the music player without unfolding the clamshell. On the right side of the phone, there's a key that will start the music player without going into the menus, a dedicated camera key and a small microSD slot for memory card. The left side of the device features the usual Samsung proprietary port and a dual volume key. The back side of the clamshell bears the company's logo and small thumb, which will make it easier to pull out the back cover. Unfolding the gadget will reveal a generous keypad with 12 large keys, which are not delimitated.
Anyway, I didn't feel like I need that as they're wide enough to make your texting experience quite pleasant. Above the keypad, just below the 2-inch main display, there are some special keys that help the user navigate through the menu. Besides the big 4-way D-pad, which can also be used as an Enter key, there are a browser dedicated key and a key that can be set to open any of your favorite application. The latter has a square imprinted on it and by default will not open any application and nor start any command of your device, until you specifically set it to do any of these. Also, there are the usual Accept and End calls, with the latter also being used to power on/off the phone. There are two contextual keys and a C key, employed as a Delete key. At the base of the keypad, on each corner, there are two rubber pins, which prevent the main display from touching the keypad. The clamshell mechanism looks pretty solid and doesn't open like you would expect. When unfolding the phone, you will notice that it won't open at 180 degrees, instead, between 90-180 degrees, so that it will fit the mic very close to your mouth, while keeping the earphone stuck to your ear.
The phone dimensions (90 x 46 x 18 mm) and weight (77g, including battery) put the handset into the medium sized clamshells. Overall, I can say that Samsung T539 is a good looking phone, but I don't think this could apply today, rather for impaired or old people.Display and Camera
Don't expect too much from Samsung's T539 display, as you'll be deeply disappointed. Samsung included only a mediocre screen onto this mid-budget clamshell. The 2.0-inch CSTN display supports no more than 65k colors and a small resolution (128 x 160 pixels) for today's standards. Fortunately, I have discovered that the phone can be used with some success in strong sunlight, but avoid typing SMSs unless you find some shadowy places when outdoors. The pictures look rather bad, even the menu is a pain to use with such a low visual quality.
The 1.3-megapixel camera on the front of the device can take decent pictures for a mid-budget phone launched in 2007. What I really liked was the fact that you can take pictures of yourself, by activating the camera with the gadget closed. Your face will appear on the small external display and you can use the dedicated camera button as a shutter to take pictures. When using the camera to take pictures with the phone unfolded, you can also employ the big D-pad as a shutter.
The camera is capable of taking snapshots with a maximum resolution of 1280 x 1024 pixels, and short clips can be registered with a maximum resolution of 176x144 pixels. There are some settings available when using the camera, like Shooting mode, Scene program, White balance and Effects (Black and white, Negative, Sepia, Antique, Moonlight and Fog), but those will not improve the quality.Menu and Software
Samsung T539 clamshell embeds the old proprietary Samsung interface and some of the applications and software, but on a lower scale. There is little customization possible with the handset, but even if you had more choices, having such a low quality display takes its toll. There's no way you can make your phone look better on the “inside,” not even equally good as the “outside.” You cannot change the alarm tones, but at least you can choose your own ringtones, as those used by default are either annoying or simply too low. Samsung tried to include some basic applications that we can also find in more evolved mobiles, but to an improved level.
Some of these include: Calculator, Alarm, Calendar (extensive), World clock, Memo, Timer, Stopwatcher and a surprisingly complex Converter. The phone also supports voice Notes and Java applications and games, but to a lower degree, as files larger than 300KB will not run. Moreover, there's a slight possibility that some of the smaller size applications will not work either because of the low quality display or other reasons.
The handset is definitely not made for those that usually surf the Internet. Either the small display or the poor browser will make you give this feature up. The integrated browser (NetFront 3.2) cannot display pages that are larger than 300KB, thus lowering the Internet capabilities. Anyway, for a mid-budget handset, T539 features a whole range of useful applications. Communication
Samsung T539 only has GPRS and EDGE (Class 10, 236.8 kbps) technologies. Still, that doesn't make it better as the browser capabilities are far too low to satisfy any needs. Mostly, you will use WAP to download applications that you need and think that will run on the clamshell, because there is no way you can actually browse Internet pages. I wasn't even able to test its EDGE data transfer speed, as the slider didn't seem to work with the application used.
Other connectivity solutions include USB 2.0 and Bluetooth 2.0 with A2DP support. The latter is not a wonder for a music-oriented gadget. There's only basic email support, and you can store around 50 SMS's in the phone's memory.
The quadband (GSM 850 / GSM 1800 / GSM 1900) network compatible handset has a good GSM signal reception. Unfortunately, the sound is pretty defective, but loud enough. I experienced terrible sound from time to time, so I wouldn't rate it more than 7 on a 1 to 10 scale.Processor and Memory
Samsung T539 features an ARM9 family processor running at speeds up to 201 MHz. The mid-level CPU makes a good addition to the technical specifications of the handset, as the menu browsing is very smooth. I cannot say the phone is slow, but as a mid-level one, you won't be able to run too many applications in the background, so the CPU will not be overloaded.
Samsung T539 features around 28 MB internal memory available for the end user, but also a microSD slot card that will enable them to expand storage space. This greatly improves the clamshell's functionality, as you can store more MP3 files and/or pictures.Multimedia
One of the first gadgets from the Beat series, Samsung T539 was especially built as a music phone. My personal opinion is that it failed to be appealing to music fans for various reasons. The biggest disappointment was the lack of a 2.5mm or 3.5mm jack port, as well as the poorness of the sales package.
Moreover, I think the clamshell has been advertised more like a phone meant for the young businessman and not like a music phone. Also, it lacks FM Radio function and the quality of the sound is mostly average. Even though it features some Equalizers, the sound is purely mediocre with no bass at all. The external loudspeaker sounds average.
Those who are used to high quality sound features will definitely reject it from the start. I think that the multimedia features embedded are simply too low and too few to even tempt today's music phone users. There is also a Voice recorder limited to the amount of free memory.Battery
A medium power 800 mAh Li-Ion battery supplies Samsung's T539 clamshell. The phone's official numbers state 6 hours of talk time and 360 hours of standby time. In fact, the phone didn't last more than 2.5 hours of talk time and about 4 days in standby mode. While this is no low accomplishment, it is neither good for a mid-end handset that doesn't have any high features to exhaust the battery faster.Impressions
I'll have to imagine myself in 2007 and having the T539 in my hand so I can give a fairly opinion about the clamshell. Even though it was tagged as a music clamshell, after using it for three weeks, I feel that multimedia features are rather limited. I would have expected more from a Beat series device, besides design. I think the phone could be a great choice for impaired people or for persons on a budget that are looking for a low-featured music phone.The Good
Probably the most appealing trait of the clamshell is the low price and the fact that it includes more than just basic features. EDGE connectivity, as well as the 1.3-megapixel camera make a fine addition to the device' fact sheet. I could also emphasize the clamshell as a whole, for not being so bad even after two years since launch.The Bad
The bad side of the phone is the simple fact that it lived to be used in 2009. Unfortunately, by today's standards, it is ugly, under-equipped and not so great value for money. Its cheap look won't attract buyers, as the market features better looking alternatives, for almost the same price.Sales Package
Samsung T539 handset
Standard battery Li-Ion 800 mAh