samsungbehold_240WHAT: Samsung Behold II

COMPARE TO: Motorola Droid, Apple iPhone, HTC MyTouch 3G.

PRICE: $399 (base), $149 (w/ 2 year contract)

WHY COMPLEX IS CO-SIGNING: Yep, the smartphone market has exploded. Every couple weeks, there's a new phone on the market that claims to be able to do things no other mobile phone could. But as these handsets get more and more powerful, however, they seem to get bigger and bigger. Now, we love a plethora of features—who doesn't like to be able to edit the video they shoot on their phone, actually on their phone?—but we believe there's a sweetspot when it comes to the size to features ratio. Yes, we want a full keyboard, vivid camera and awesome screen, but we don't want a phone that can't fit comfortably in our jeans pocket with our keys and Chapstick. To us, that sweet spot lies somewhere between the Blackberry Curve and the iPhone. Samsung's second Google Android offering, the Behold II, falls well within that spot.

SOFTWARE: The Behold II runs Google's Android operating system 1.5. Why they didn't go with 2.0 is anyones guess. Yet and still, the OS is fast, attractive and extremely customizable. It doesn't have the cool simplicity of the iPhone's OS, or the fluid elegance of the Palm Pre's Web OS, but it works. Well. If Kris Jenner and Robert Kardashian had a fourth daughter that, looks wise, could fit between Kourtney and Khloe, that would be Android 1.5...

The Android build running on the Behold II gives you all the standard fare: the triple desktop, the movable widgets, the handy pull down menu that's been revised to show you recent calls, voicemails and text's as well as recent programs used and internet connections. In an attempt to spice it up a little, Samsung decided to throw their TouchWiz user interface into the mix. We like TouchWiz. It helped make Windows Mobile a more enjoyable experience on the Omnia II, But here, it feels a little extra. The new task bar allows you to easily access the Dialer, Web, Contacts and Quick List (a list of apps). However, with Android you can easily place a widget for all four of those on your desktop, so what's the point? Another new feature is the 3D Cube navigator, which, visually, is cool, but practically a little more trouble than its worth.

The built in web browser works well, with quick scrolling and zooming. There're no cool gestures, but to zoom in and out all you do is tap the screen and press the magnification button. Not really a deal breaker for us. There's no solid state keyboard, but the onscreen one works just fine. Use it either in landscape or vertical, both are up to par with most other smartphones on the market.

HARDWARE: Coming in around the same size as the iPhone—albeit with a smaller screen and a little less weight—the Behold II isn't too imposing, but big enough to be productive on. Although, it doesn't feel as high-end as the Motorola Droid or the iPhone, it still has a great feel. It comes packed with a 5 MP still and video camera that gives you a crazy amount of leeway when it comes to tinkering with settings. You can choose the exposure, the image size, turn the flash off or on. In other words, you get real camera controls. There's a real headphone jack, clearly defined volume keys, and a dedicated camera button. One thing we would change, however, would be the "Lock" button. Located above the "camera" button, it's basically flush with the phone, making it a little difficult to find at times. But one thing we love is the physical button set up. You get dedicated "Talk" and "End" buttons, a direction pad in case you don't want to use your finger to scroll, a home button, a back button and a menu button. It may sound cluttered, but when you get to using the phone, they come in really handy.

SCREEN: One of the best features of the Behold II has to be its 3.2", 320 x 480, captive touch AMOLED display. It's gorgeous. In addition to being brighter and sharper than LCD screens, they AMOLED's also use less energy which proves for better battery life. Videos on the Behold II looks great in whatever light you happen to be watching them in. You don't get the wash out you usually get when watching a video in the sun.

OVERALL: The Samsung Behold II doesn't attempt to rewrite the mobile phone game. Instead, it provides a well-rounded package. One that ticks off most, if not all, the current smartphone needs. A little more refinement in the software department would do wonders for what is already a pretty solid effort from Samsung.

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