The Samsung Strive is a capable vertical slider phone aimed at frequent texters. It offers a hardware QWERTY keyboard, threaded chat-style messaging. It also automatically backs up contacts online and has plenty of media capabilities.
Design, Call Quality & Messaging
The Strive is fashioned in glossy black and silver plastic, and appears a bit overwrought and cheap; a grape-colored version is also available. It measures 4.2 by 2.1 by 0.6 inches and weighs four ounces. Six large function buttons bracket a five-way control pad with a large center button, which doubles as a shortcut for accessing the Web. The 2.6-inch, 240-by-320-pixel LCD is moderately bright, but not touch-enabled. The membrane keyboard felt cheap, stiff, and cramped, but I got used to it after a little while. Dialing numbers was tough as a result of the small keys.
The Strive is a typical quad-band EDGE (850/900/1800/1900 MHz) and dual-band HSDPA (850/1900 MHz) device on AT&T. Voice quality was warm, loud, and punchy. I heard a slight buzz in transmissions in the earpiece, but it was nothing major. The speakerphone sounded OK, and was sufficient for outdoor use. The Strive's Nuance-powered dialing was buggy. I could activate it through a complicated menu sequence, but when I triggered it with my Bluetooth headset, it took several seconds to activate and its voice prompt was too quiet to hear. Battery life was average at 4 hours and 48 minutes of talk time.
A 12-icon grid forms the core of the menu system, most of which consists of unnecessary bloatware which you can't delete. The instant messaging client works with AIM, Yahoo, and Windows Live, but not Google Talk. Some of these opt you into paying the monthly fees before you can even get started, which is horrifying; others play screen after screen of ads to show you what the app does first. One bright side: the Opera Mini-powered Web browser did a nice job with both WAP and desktop pages.
Multimedia & Camera
For media storage, there's 91MB of free internal memory. My 16GB SanDisk card worked fine in the microSD slot underneath the battery cover. The non-standard microUSB headphone jack makes finding compatible earbuds a pain. The music player app displayed album art when available. Streamed videos of Stephen Colbert played back pretty smoothly in full screen mode. Standalone .3GP videos played fine at 15 frames per second, but none of my other stored videos worked.
Photos taken with the 2-megapixel camera looked mottled and sickly, with poorly rendered details in indoor scenes. Color accuracy was all over the map, depending on the shot and the lighting conditions. Shutter speeds were relatively quick, and I only lost a few shots to excessive blur. The camcorder mode recorded sharp, but brief and tiny 176-by-144-pixel videos at 15 frames per second with a maximum length of 12 seconds. The Strive also geo-tags photos.
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