Monday, July 8, 2013

Samsung S390G for Tracfone Review

Two weeks ago, I bought a Tracfone Samsung S390G, a keyboard phone. Its WiFi capability, 2 megapixel camera, full qwerty keyboard, and longish battery life were the reasons I chose it. What do I think of it now after using it in real life? Read my full review!

Only 4 and 3/8’ tall by 2 and 3/8’ wide, the S390G is a petite little phone. It feels solid and grippable, thanks to a textured back cover.

There’s a Micro USB port on the right, a headphone jack in the top left corner, a volume rocker on the left side, a slot for a MicroSD card.

The S390G’s screen is fine for everyday use. The S390G has one of the best screens in Tracfone’s non-touchscreen phone selection, though that’s not saying a lot. It gets the job done.

A little trackpad, flanked on either side by two soft keys, takes the place of arrow buttons. It is fairly accurate and quick for navigating menus, text messages, etc., but is too slow for efficient web navigation.

The QWERTY keyboard is easy to type on. Each key is raised, backlit, and well spaced. In addition to the standard backspace, space, shift, and alt keys, symbol and quick launch keys are handy additions. The spacebar seems a bit quirky. When pressed in the middle, it makes a period and a space or two spaces. For instance, when I typed “This is a test”, it turned into “This. Is. A. Test.” It adds some drama to my sentences! When the spacebar is pressed on the sides, it makes a single space.

Software and Performance
The main menu has twelve options: Prepaid, Contacts, Recent Calls, Games & Apps, Messages, Email, Browser, Music, My Folder, WiFi, Tools, and Settings.

Games and Apps stores games and apps. The Buy Games shortcut directs to Tracfone’s Gameloft store, where everything costs $4.99. There are ways to circumvent Gameloft, though.

The S390G’s web browser is unwieldy. The home page cannot be changed from Tracfone’s. Even simply opening a web address is done in a roundabout way. Luckily, I found a way to download Opera Mini, which is much more streamlined. (I used, though that website is use-at-your-own-risk, in my opinion.)

There are two internet connection choices when using the net: WiFi and 3G. WiFi capability is one of the main reasons I chose this phone. Though it doesn’t hang on to a WiFi network as well as other phones I have used, it does work. I try not to use 3G because it burns through minutes VERY quickly.

Tools contains a large collection of stock apps. There are the self-explanatory: camera, audio recorder, alarms, calendar, memo, calculator, tip calculator, converter, world clock, timer, and stopwatch apps. I wish the camera app would have been placed in the main menu instead of under the Tools submenu.

Two non-standard apps are Eco Calculator and Voice Services. Eco calculator is a simple calculator that computes gas milage. Voice Services is a voice recognition app similar to - though much less advanced than - Apple’s Siri or Samsung’s S Voice. Texting a person in your contact list, checking your messages, or launching the web browser are some of the tasks Voice Services will do. In my opinion, Voice Service’s accuracy is only so-so. About half of the time, the conversation between me and Voice Service goes something like this. I say “Text message Person X”. It asks, “Did you say message X, Y, or Z?” Personally, I would rather go through menus than hassle with inaccurate voice recognition.

Though it won’t set any records, the 520Mhz processor has enough oomph to keep things going. This was not meant to be a amazingly fast phone, but a fast enough, good enough phone. I haven’t tested the S390G’s 3G data speeds.

The 2 MP camera gets the job done. It uses a fixed focus lens, which means that it cannot focus on a particular object. This is similar to a disposable film camera. The pictures it produces are okay for posting online, but that’s pretty much it.

Battery Life
Since my S390G gets very light usage and is brand new, I get a couple days of battery life on a charge. We’ll see how long it lasts with more usage.

Call Quality
I have been impressed by the S390G’s speaker quality. It produces loud, clear sound for my end of the line. Though it varies with reception, sound has been just okay for the other end of the line.

Overall, I have been fairly happy with my new purchase. The comfortable qwerty keyboard, wifi, and so-far-so-good battery life are what I value most. Though I wish the camera and call quality were better, the whole package is acceptable. At $50 from Tracfone, the Samsung S390G is best for the person who wants a phone with some techy features, but feels that a smartphone is too much for them.

Product Info

Price:$49.99 from Tracfone
    Comfortable qwerty keyboard, wifi, good battery life, decent speaker quality  
  • Lackluster camera, so-so call quality, innacurate Voice Services


  1. Thanks for the fine review! I ordered my S390G from TracFone earlier today (to replace my aging and all-but-over-the-hill LG 300G). The price is now down to $39.99 - a STEAL, I say! =P

  2. Had to replace this phone, due to the fact that it kept pocket dialing "112" emergency number. This would happen even in the locked position. My Daughter-in-law had the same problem with hers. Would not recommend this phone only because if this simple, but very annoying problem.


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