Since the world is going nuts over the smartphone flood that has hit every one of us of late, many tend to forget that there are also some devices that can be smart without being referred to as smart. Do you currently own a smartphone and you look back at the days of the Nokia 3310 which could go for 5 working days on a single charge or the era of the diminutive Siemens C35 and Sagem MC 320 and Sagem MW 3020 and wish the same strong battery life could be said of a lean, sexy and smart device? Look no further than the Samsung Ch@t 527.
I’ve been very busy recently and being a long distance traveller often means that I am always forced to either switch off my data and battery guzzling smartphone or use it for just two hours and be offline for over 15 hours. That simply doesn’t make sense bearing in mind how attached people are becoming to their phones these days. So less than a month ago I went shopping for a small fairly priced feature phone that can supplement my smartphone and stick with me at my hour of need.
Simple Bluetooth connectivity, ability to run several Java apps was all I was looking for. Plus, of course, the main feature that had led me to look for a secondary device: a longer lasting battery. I found all those in the GT-S5270, an older but the shiniest and sexiest of the Samsung Ch@t family of feature phones. What was even shocking was that the device even has 3G network support, something I never expected from a feature phone (even though I know several of them that do).
Forget about all the other feature phones being hyped about in the market right now. From the curves, the shiny appearance (I have the metallic grey model), the front camera for making video calls and the convenient QWERTY keyboard, all the features have been carefully packed and ultimately won me over.
If you are a long time (or even recent) user of Samsung smartphones then you are obviously conversant with its famed user interface, TouchWiz. The UI silently says “TouchWiz” on a single look giving you a simple relaxed home screen.
What I like and dislike
The Samsung Ch@t 527 measures 103 x 55 x 12mm and weighs just 96 grams. In fact, it feels even lighter when hand-held. It is just big enough to fill the dent in your pocket that a smartphone will usually fill. To be honest, unless you own the Galaxy Note, you will always think you have your smartphone with you.
The display is not that bad. The screen has a resolution of 320 x 240 pixels and measures just about 2.4 inches.
Network-wise, the device comes with support for WAP 2.0. It supports 2G and of course the faster 3G network. It will be demanding too much from a feature phone to expect it to have other network capabilities like WiFi, DLNA and Hotspot WiFi so forget about all those. Bluetooth connectivity works well and sending MP3 files from my PC via Bluetooth was a breeze.
Fear not texting and tweeting maniacs, SMS memory is up to 1000 slots/places. In fact, I enjoy texting using this phone more than I do on a touch screen. The buttons though are a bit smaller than on other QWERTY feature phones that I have used before.
Configured mail through protocols like POP3, IMAP4 and SMTP which are all supported is, however, slow and not as fast as I had expected.
The phone packs 80 Mb of internal storage, quite small when compared to the internal storage found in affordable entry-level smartphones like the recently launched Samsung Galaxy Pocket and the Huawei Ascend Y100 but very handy when all you want are a few Java applications and games. It, however, has a memory card slot (microSD and microSDHC) that is expandable up to 16 Gb. The device does not come with an SD card so you’ll have to buy one after purchase. The phone will allow you to save up to 1000 contacts, quite handy. The downside: There’s no way to sync your contacts to Google or other services. I didn’t expect that in a feature phone, though.
The phone supports Java MIDP 2.1 so you will still access your Opera Mini here without much hustle plus a hoard of other applications like social media apps that are available for the Ch@t 527. It also comes preloaded with the Samsung Apps application for easy access to the thousands of apps and games available. Other apps that are preloaded are Twitter and Facebook for Samsung Mobile.
The major selling point of this phone is it’s battery life. Regardless of the usage, the days of going for a whole day without having to bother about a low battery are back. The battery is 1000mAh but utilization is commendable since unlike smartphones, there are no multiple sensors and background processes that drain it.
The camera: You won’t be able to apply filters using Instagram but the 2.0 MP camera does the phone a lot of justice and provides a resolution of 1600 x 1200 pixels. It does just fine. For feature phones that are used to having VGA and QVGA resolutions for their cameras, the Ch@t 527 stands above the rest. It even has a 0.3 MP front camera for video calls! The camera also includes features like geo-tagging.
One more feature that sets it apart is the optical trackpad. This may not be as elaborate as the one on Blackberry smartphones but for those of us used to touch screens you’ll definitely appreciate its inclusion in the Ch@t 527.
Unlike the other phones in the Ch@t series, the Ch@t 527 does not come with a pre-installed Chat-ON app nor is it a dual-SIM phone.
A 3.5mm audio port, FM radio, music player, Samsung Mobile Tracker (you need to activate this) and a microUSB port.
It is worth a try. If you are looking forward to upgrading your current feature phone then you should consider this. It can also be a great alternative to your smartphone more so for those moments when you don’t want to play Angry Birds on your smartphone but just need to endlessly text without worrying about the battery.