T-Mobile's major weakness in the music phone category is the carrier's lack of an over-the-air download service. Still, the Beat will only set you back $49.99, and it comes with a 1GB microSD Card, a stereo hands-free headset, and headphone adapter, making it a tempting buy.
The Test Drive
We love the soft touch of the Beat's dialpad, but the flat keys made text messaging difficult. The Beat's external controls were easy to use, and its stylish neon-green outer speaker was sufficient for listening to music in a quiet room.
The handset also supports stereo Bluetooth, which worked smoothly on our tests. However, we wish you could adjust the volume with the handset as well as the headset while wearing one. When listening to music, the Samsung Beat had acceptable lows and highs without too much popping, and it even a had a decent amount of bass.
With a full signal on T-Mobile, CNN.com loaded in a sluggish 29 seconds. This clamshell can snap 1.3-MP photos and record video, but the camera's image quality was subpar.
Voice quality on the Beat was okay outdoors. Indoors, the phone didn't hold a strong signal. The Beat's 6-hour talk time is good, but we noticed that music playback drained the battery quickly. Expect to charge the phone at least every other day during casual use.
If you can live without on-demand downloads and other 3G media services, the Beat will satisfy your urge to converge music player and cell phone.