The Samsung SGH-T400 is the Korean manufacturer’s next-generation colour-screened mobile phone for the masses. Adopting many similarities as its SGH-T100 predecessor, the T400 (or T408 with Chinese characters support for Asian markets) comes in a considerably smaller clamshell footprint with a squarer design that appeals to individuals looking for something different.
Of course, the list of improvements doesn’t just stop there! Read on to find out what Samsung has included into this neat little package of theirs.
In addition to it being somewhat smaller than its SGH-T100 predecessor, the T400 gets a richer TFT screen capable of displaying up to 65,535 colours. This means pictures can be displayed with greater detail and clarity than ever before. A move from 16-chord to 40-chord polyphonic tones means something similar, which provides improved ringtone clarity and variety in the instruments present within them.
Other features, such as organiser applications, voice functionality and colour games, have been retained from its predecessor model. Feature-wise, expect the T400 to be very similar in this regard.
On my first time looking at the T400, I didn’t really favour it aesthetically. Pictures of this phone had only made me think it was something really blocky and that it did not include those necessary curves that usually make a phone look that much splendid.
But once I got hold of this clamshell, it changed this negative thought immediately, proving the fact once again that pictures (at most times) doesn’t do justice at all! Being square-like it may be, but the overall design of the phone is indeed unique and it was actually quite refreshing to hold and use a Samsung clamshell that wasn’t just curves or have egg-like contours all over.
The rectangular shaping exists all around - including the clamshell’s main body, the external antenna, both the LCD screens, and the overall layout of the keypad seemed to fit into an invisible area of a rectangle too! However, if the phone was all just four edges, it would have been a boring design.
Therefore, Samsung has used an aluminium material for the T400’s front cover, which has been shaped with a few rounded corners and is slightly raised. This allows different lighting tones to be present however you position and/or look at the T400. And to top it off, a glossy silver material (which somewhat attracts fingerprints, but not really mattering that much) can be found on the tip of the external antenna, and on the perimeters of the outer LCD and front cover, contrasts the lighter tone of the aluminium surface quite well.
But what’s on the inside is also quite interesting. The area of design that I am most interested in is the overall keypad, where each of the keys take a more rounded approach in design - rather than the squared-off corners of the other elements throughout the T400. Although the entire keypad is encompassed within a rectangular area, one can say that the rounded buttons are there to contrast the overall design so that it retains a somewhat present-day look-and-feel. Considering this, I now find the T400 quite good-looking… :)
I also found the positioning and sizing of the buttons to be quite ergonomically sound, as well as how well the phone weighs down your hand. With slightly more of the weight being on the upper section of the clamshell, this actually helps a user in holding the phone in one-handed situations for simple (browsing) and complex (messaging) operations and possibly reduce the effort required by the user in balancing the phone whilst in the hand.
User Interface & display
There’s no doubt that the 65K-colour TFT screen blows every other type of screen out of the water! The although-small but high-resolution display shows off text and (especially) graphics with the utmost clarity, and is probably better than the one found on Panasonic’s GD88. Imagine if the T400 had MMS capabilities - wouldn’t that be a godsend? :)
On the outside, the T400 still uses a black-and-white sub-LCD display which provides information including caller ID, missed calls and waiting messages, the current time and date, battery and signal indicators, and other phone-related information. A blue EL backlight illuminates this sub-LCD display when the clamshell is closed or by holding down on either volume buttons until the light is activated.
For those who have used the SGH-T100 predecessor before (or the current T500 model), you will find that the user interface (or menu system) on the T400 to be virtually the same. The phone has the ability to display wallpaper for the standby screen and changing different colours (or themes) for the various menu bars and highlights - while browsing the menus is simply left/right for different main menu items and up/down for the choosing of menu functions.
After using the T400 for a while, I found that if the menu lists had a scroll bar indicator on the right-hand side of the screen, it would have helped in me determining my current position in a particular list. I suppose short menu lists are fine - but when you go to ones that have endless lines of selections, this progressively becomes a problem (not unless you can remember where each of the menu items are located, of course!)
Making and receiving calls
The T400 provides excellent audio quality from both the actual handset or through the wearable ear microphone, which comes along with the original sales package.
Alike most other Samsung clamshell models, the inside shaping of the T400 rests comfortably on most faces that it comes in contact with - which ultimately provides for comfort during short or long phone calls. However, I do not feel quite the same way for the wearable ear microphone - as I have always found the earpiece hard to wear, and having it actually sitting comfortably in my ear is always a problem.
And for those 40-chord polyphonic ringing tones, I can say that they are actually a quite an improvement over the current 16-chord ones. As mentioned previously, the clarity of such tones is a contributing factor to this improvement.
Where it was actually amazing to be able to have ringtones that play more than one chord or instrument simultaneously, it is now whether these polyphonic tones are loud and clear enough. The T400 has no problem satisfying the latter condition here - but its polyphonic ringing tone volume will never beat that of the S300’s, which is by far the loudest one I’ve ever come across thus far!
A user of the T400 is able to send and receive both text (SMS) and picture messages (the Nokia-compatible type). The phone’s keypad provides generally good feedback and tactility when used for this purpose.
However, these are two things that may deter you from wanting to use this particular functionality given what’s available on most GSM handsets nowadays.
The first of these is the inability to compose messages of more than the standard 160-character limit. On most other phones, including some current Samsung models, a user is able to compose 4-8 times more characters (or, on average, more words) - and concatenated messaging, which is what this particular ability is called, should have been included on the T400 without any doubt. Although it may not be such a necessary feature for some people, it’s definitely a convenient option to have available should you want to type more words in one single message.
And for those people who use T9 predictive text input as a habit (like me), take note that the T400 does not provide the ability for its user to add new words. Yes, this means you will be restricted to the words available in the on-board T9 dictionary of the respective language, and entering words not found will require you to change to “ABC” (multi-tap) mode and switch back to T9 after completing the unknown word (more details on this can be found in the
“Problems/issues” section of this review).
All Samsung phones are generally quite well-built with little or no quality issues at all. I can personally say the same for the T400, where everything - including the rigidity of the clamshell hinge and solidity of the overall construction of the handset - is virtually perfect. The T400 should have no problems if it was to be mistreated in a non-intentional way (not that I am suggesting people to go and try!)
There was, however, one little thing. On the current T400 unit being reviewed, the “5” button on the keypad seems to have a problem retracting - which depends on how it is being pressed. The top left-hand corner of the button would get caught onto the phone casing, and I would need to press the lower right-hand side of the same button to return it back to its proper position.
This may be just a handset-specific issue, which I have not seen on other Samsung models and handsets in general. For those who are thinking of buying one, you may just want to check this on your unit before taking it home.
The 800mAh battery provides good battery times for the T400. On average use, I was able to get up to three days’ worth of standby and around 3-4 hours of talk time.
What’s good about the T400 also is the ability to swap batteries when one of them is near to hitting empty. This is made possible thanks to the included battery charger, which allows its user to use one and charge one at the same time. In virtually all situations, you should have the empty battery fully charged before you deplete the one currently being used by the phone.