Feature phones are almost out of the market and budget Android phones are now slowly ruling this space. Though feature phones can support Internet, music, chat and social networking, users seem to prefer Androids over JAVA. Samsung has recently launched the REX series feature phones to cater to the masses. Those who do not want to spend on an Android, can opt for these phones while still keeping most of the features of the same. We had the REX 90 with us for a while and here is our experience.
3.5-inch Display, 312MHz CPU, 20MB Storage
Design and build
The success of the Samsung Galaxy series has seen Samsung rise to the top of the market. The REX 90 sports the same look as that of the Galaxy S3, which definitely will draw sales. The REX looks almost identical to the S3 except in the overall size. It has a white glossy exterior with a silver chrome trim around the entire body. The front features the 3.5-inch TFT display with a resolution of 320 x 480 pixels. Above the display panel is the earpiece and two small windows for the light and proximity sensors. The bottom of the display highlights the physical Home button and on either side are two feather-touch capacitive buttons for Call and End. The volume rocker is seen on the left side while the right side has the power/standby button. A micro USB PC interface-cum-power port is available on the bottom and a 3.5 mm audio headset jack is located on the top. The rear sports the main camera, but there's no flash to support night shots. The entire shell is rugged and firm, but the glossy white surface would not last long if handled carelessly. The phone has a small form-factor candy-bar style and fits in the palm very comfortably, allowing you to use the phone with one hand.
Dual-SIM, 1000 mAh battery, hot-swap SIM 2 and microSD card
The REX 90 is a simple phone with trendy looks. This dual-SIM (DUOS) handset features both networks online simultaneously to be able to swap between both lines. Yes, you can get calls on SIM 1 even though you are talking on SIM 2. What’s more, the SIM 2 slot is a hot-swap port, which means you can remove or replace the SIM card without having to switch off the phone.
Micro USB PC interface and charging connector, 3.5 mm audio out
The OS runs on a 312MHz processor (XMM2230 chipset); it is not as fast as we expected, but is good enough for the OS it runs. The 3.5-inch display is bright and crisp and very responsive to touch – benefiting the UI. The onboard storage is just around 20MB for very basic storage, but this can be expanded using the hot-swappable microSD card slot. The main camera is 3.2MP without a flash. Connectivity options are Wi-Fi b/g/n and Bluetooth 3.0—GPS and 3G are the missing options. Other features include an RDS FM radio with recording option. The handset is loaded with a few social networking, gaming and productivity apps and the user can download a lot more from Samsung’s online store via the Samsung Apps software installed on the phone. Other apps included are a file manager, voice recorder, BT messenger and a few others. Lastly, the REX 90 is fuelled by a 1000 mAh battery, with the manufacturer claiming around 15 hours of talktime. Considering the phone is not as feature-rich for watching videos, high-end gaming or even 3G Internet, the battery life should give you at least two days at a stretch, if not more.
Volume rocker and power button on the sides, 11.9 mm thick
The REX 90 runs on a JAVA-based operating system with Samsung's Touchwiz UI. The UI somewhat represents the Android OS feel with a swipe down notification bar and toggle switches, five homescreens, app drawer and a few other similar functions. You can add widgets and application shortcuts as per your choice on the homescreens. The user interface is pretty noisy—every touch on the screen creates an audible alert, which cannot be turned down. The same is the issue when unlocking the phone and turning on the phone—it plays a short music track. The only option is to set the phone in silent mode to disable the unnecessary audio, but doing that also disables the ringtone and message alerts.
Android-style user interface with Samsung's own Touchwiz UI
The user interface on the whole is very simple to use. Finding your way around the menu system to set up the phone is very simple and easy. The app drawer has horizontal scrolling but no options to set it to vertical scrolling or anything else as one could do with an Android UI. The user interface itself has the Back option, while the Home button is the physical button on the handset. There are no Menu or Back buttons. This is confusing to an Android user as the two buttons on either side of the Home button are just for accepting or ending a call. Touching the end button will put your phone on standby or take you to the homescreen.
Wi-Fi settings, File manager, Music player, FM Radio with RDS and recording
We did find another flaw in the user interface related to unlocking and shutting down the phone. The power/standby button is used to turn off the display and send the phone to standby mode when not in use. Pressing the button once enables the display and one has to swipe left or right on the screen to unlock the phone. If you keep the power button pressed for two seconds, the phone unlocks itself automatically. Further keeping the button pressed for two more seconds shuts down the phone without any warning. This is bad because if the button gets pressed when in the pocket or a bag, the phone will either unlock or shut down without your knowledge. The JAVA operating system also does not feature multi-tasking. Though you can send the FM and music player to the background, starting some other app will ask you to close the app running in the background.
The 3.2MP rear shooter does an average job when used outdoors or in well-lit areas. The photos are clear as a whole, but are grainy if you look closely. The photos also lack contrast and the images appear slightly darker than the original. The colours are a bit vibrant too, and brighter areas tend to get washed out. Move on to shoot in the shade and you will need to bump up the EV to capture a decent image. Get indoors and the missing flash will let you down. The indoor shoots are very grainy, dull and lack sharpness.
Outdoor shots are decent, but lack contrast
Indoor shots are very dull and grainy
Display and media
The display quality is decent enough for web surfing, watching a short flick, playing a few games or sifting through some photos. Watching movies on this phone is a letdown. We tried playing a few videos on the phone and were disappointed. H.263 and MPEG4 codec-based videos are the only ones playable on this phone. You will have to transcode all your videos into the screen size and compatible codec format in order to play them on the screen. We did not even manage to play any DivX/XviD (.AVI) files without transcoding. The audio is just the opposite. Music quality from the bundled headphones is good enough and you won’t need to replace them. The audio quality from the rear speaker is very loud and clear but a bit shrill.
Install additional apps using “Samsung Apps”
Verdict and Price in India
The REX 90 is definitely a feature-rich phone, but not without a few quirks. The missing flash, absence of GPS and multi-tasking features, the issue with the power switch and the necessity to transcode the videos are a few areas of concern. Adding to this list is the hefty MRP of Rs 6,490, which makes it a bit dicey for the phone to draw potential customers. By investing a few hundreds more, one can opt for the Samsung Galaxy Y, which is an Android-based smartphone. Though the display is not as great on the Y, the superior operating system is a lot better and feature-rich as compared to the JAVA OS. All the REX has with it is the brand name and the trendy looks. We would recommend this phone only to those who want a good-looking basic phone with capabilities of casual Internet and social networking on the move. Other smartphones in the same budget or slightly higher are the XOLO A500, HTC Explorer, Sony Xperia Tipo or the HTC Wildfire S.
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