US Cellular's Samsung Mesmerize

US Cellular is certainly carving out a name for themselves in the Android world, and the release of the Samsung Mesmerize brings one of the best Android handsets currently on the market to their network.  It's a Galaxy S phone, and like its cousins on the big four networks, it's a powerhouse with an incredible Super AMOLED screen.  Hit the break to see my impressions of the Mesmerize, available at US Cellular for $199.99 on a two-year agreement.

We've already crawled all over the U.S. Galaxy S phones with the Verizon Fascinate, T-Mobile Vibrant, AT&T Captivate and Sprint Epic 4G. What does US Cellular bring to the tablet? Let's find out, after the break.

First and foremost, this is a Galaxy S phone.  It runs Android 2.1-update 1, has the TouchWiz interface, and the same internals as the Verizon Fascinate.  It even looks and feels like the Fascinate in your hands.  Since most of us here adore the Fascinate, that's all good news. Here's a short video of the phone, where you can check out the hardware and a bit of the software.

YouTube link for mobile viewing

Samsung Mesmerize seven default homescreens

The Hardware

The hardware is well laid out, even if it's a little plasticky.  You really only notice this when you have the battery door off -- assembled the Mesmerize feels fine in the hand.  Speaking of the battery door, once open, the microSD card can be removed without shutting down the phone or removing the battery.  This is a big plus if you swap cards and have a big music library.

battery door removed  microSD card

Bottom, with mic hole  Mesmerize -- ports

The smooth lines of the exterior are carried through with the ports and buttons.  Up top, you have the 3.5 mm headset jack, and a microUSB port -- covered by a protective sliding door to keep dirt and debris out.  On the bottom, you have the mic hole, surrounded by the curves of the phone.  It's very sleek. The left side of the phone has the volume rocker switch, and the right side presents the power button.  A lot of design work has gone into the Galaxy S line, and on the Mesmerize it shows.

Volume rocker switch  power button

The full monty  Back plate

And then there's the screen.  Until you see a Super AMOLED display, you really can't appreciate it.  Trust me, everything you hear about the color depth, and beautiful wet look of the screen is true.  A pic of the screen in the dark shows this a little, but you really need to see this for yourself.

SAMOLED

The Software

US Cellular has been kind enough to leave most of the bloat off the device.  Besides the normal Android and Google applications, and the few Samsung custom apps, the only things you won't find in Vanilla Android are CityID, MyContacts Backup, and US Cellular's branded version of Telenav.  We appreciate that, US Cellular, more than you know.

Apps, page one  Apps, page 2  Apps, page 3

The GPS

GPS gets its own section, and many of you who own Galaxy S devices know why.  I'm not sure if it's luck, location, or software, but the GPS on the Mesmerize was more than acceptable, and I'd even say it was good.  Driving around in the mountains where cell data is spotty at best (more on that in a bit) the GPS using Google Maps worked admirably.  I will admit, it doesn't lock as fast as some other phones initially, but it seemed to keep the minimum amount of satellites locked in to keep me heading where I wanted to go, and the only real issues were with Google Maps itself not knowing some of the roads trails I was driving on.

GPS status

As you can see, the GPS even finds and locks on to satellites indoors. While YMMV, I didn't see any issue with GPS here.

Call quality and signal

Call quality with the Mesmerize was about average.  Callers had no issue hearing me, but several mentioned the "airplane hanger" effect of having some reverb in the background.  On my end, I noticed the same thing -- depending on where I was.  Outdoors it was fine, but indoors, or under a big pavilion I noticed the effect.  Maybe I'm spoiled by noise canceling microphones, but even then the call quality is more than acceptable.

US Cellular's network on the other hand, gets a five-star, will-use-again mark.  Admittedly, I haven't used US Cellular before, so it's possible that outstanding network performance is the norm, but I was extremely pleased with both the voice and data signal, even in places where I didn't expect to have any. 

In short, if you're a US Cellular subscriber and an Android fan, this one's for you.  I would recommend this phone to any friend or family member, and the quality of US Cellular's network (in my area) is icing on the cake.

 

Reader comments

Samsung Mesmerize review [U.S. Cellular]

18 Comments

Galaxy S just keeps getting better, IMO. I haven't played with the other four phones yet, but I love my Epic, and everything I've read about the line in general is nothing but positive (except for the GPS issues, which I don't really have on my Epic).

Curious, what are the widgets to the right of the "Buddies Now" widget and left of the Google Search bar? I've never seen the Diary thing or what looks like an RSS reader...are those available in the Market, or exclusive per phone?

Coming to my local carrier Appalachian Wireless in December cant wait to get my hands on it! I have used Blackberry for years and years but I am over RIM!

lol read the second paragraph over and over. You really need proof readers. You should have a forum for that and elect people to proof read. You wrote "What does US Cellular bring to the tablet?" I didnt know the mesmerize was a tablet

Reading about these reject iphone owners tell about their alarm problems on Engadget is cracking me up:)

It's the Samsung weather clock. Comes on the Galaxy S phones, but not sure if it's on all of them. Epic has it, and apparently Mesmerize has it.

Thanks Atomic, so it not something you can get? just part of the stock package that comes with the galaxy phone?

Correct, it's a Samsung firmware widget that uses Accuweather. I like it, but I prefer the Beautiful Widgets clock. Best $2 I spent so far on my phone.

This is the best version of the Galaxy S series yet,IMO. Why oh why couldn't have Verizon just released this instead of the Bloated & Bing'd Fascinate. Whaaaaaaa!

The Mesmerize system dump is now available and most of the apks work on the Fascinate. Devs over at XDA have already incorporated several kernel patches from the Mesmerize source into the Fascinate as well. It would have been great if Verizon took a hands off approach from the start but thanks to the Mesmerize and US Cellular we can now fix everything Verizon broke. It just takes a little extra effort.

Thanks Again Atomic, I have Beutiful widgets as well, I was looking to change the style of the clock for a few days...

To those of you using beautiful widgets on this phone: anyone able to get the clock app to open by tapping on the widget? I can't get it to work and it is driving me crazy...

Thought the GPS was fixed on this device. It gets worse every day for some reason.... Weird. After that started to happen I tried tweaking some of the settings via launcher pro and really didn't seem to fix the problem. It seems like if the phone is on for a long time and the GPS has not been in use it totally goes to "sleep" and can't be woken up! Pain in the ass. If I had to choose between a working GPS and upgrading to 2.2 I'll take the broken GPS on 2.1. 2.2 blows. The good news is, Samsung can't get there shit together to push out the update. What the hell is wrong with you Samsung? Oh yeah, you sold millions of these phones regardless of these issues so who gives a sh**. Right?