Pros: great call quality, fast, cheap with upgrade, a quality phone
Cons: small internal memory
When our contract was up in November 2012 and we were due for a cell phone upgrade, my husband and I decided on the Samsung Galaxy Exhilarate smartphone for AT&T. The Exhilarate originally came out in early 2012. It is a 4G LTE Android based phone. We are not people that have to immediately have the latest phones, and we’re on a budget. Anything we considered were phones under $1. The Galaxy Exhilarate cost $0.99.
The Exhilarate was released with a slightly older version of Android (Gingerbread). In my research I found that once I got the phone I would be able to upgrade to a newer version of Android. To my surprise, the phone I received already had Android 4.0.4 (Ice Cream Sandwich) installed. I don’t know what the difference is between the versions, but I was very pleased to know I have a more up to date operating system.
The Android OS was new to me. My previous phone was a Palm, which ran off WebOS. There are both similarities and differences between the two operating systems. Initially I made a few mistakes, but I got accustomed to Android pretty quickly. The one thing I truly miss about WebOS is the ability to utilize more than one application at the same time. WebOS would allow the user to sort of minimize an app, and open another app at the same time and move between the two. Android just does not allow for this type of multi-tasking.
Size and Weight
The dimensions of the phone are 4.80" x 2.48" x 0.46", and it weighs 4.59 ounces. All the phones I was considering were the one penny to $0.99 upgrade phones. Of the Android phones I compared, this one was on the smaller, lighter side. I didn’t want anything so big it wouldn’t fit in a pocket, or feel too heavy. In the AT&T store it was on display next to an iPhone 4S. The Exhilarate and the iPhone were very similar in size, yet the Exhilarate felt lighter. The Exhilarate felt only slightly larger and heavier than my Palm, so in that aspect it was a good fit for me.
A feature of this phone that may be a disappointment for some is the memory. While other phones boast 8GB and 16GB of memory, this phone has only 4GB of internal memory. However, to come to its rescue is space for a micro SD card that can help increase the memory of the phone. The SD card slot is easily accessible from the side of the phone. I have had the phone only a couple months and I have about half of my internal memory used. This is partially due to some of the pre-installed apps that I have not yet bothered to remove.
The Galaxy Exhilarate
Initial set up is very simple. There is a quick set up option that will walk you through setting up your phone step by step.
The Galaxy Exhilarate comes loaded with 7 highly customizable pages. Along the bottom of each page is Phone, Messaging, Web and Applications icons. These icons will allow you to easily get to your key pad and contacts, text messaging, internet/search, and all of your applications. Below the screen is your menu, home, back and search button.
The remainder of space on each page is available for you to customize with applications and widgets. You can add shortcuts, folders and features such as one touch dialing. I have one page dedicated to one touch dialing for frequently contacted people, I have another page just for game applications and another page is a calendar widget so I can easily see my months’ calendar and events. With a little practice and playing around I was able to set up my phone in a way that is best suited for me. I don’t even have all of my pages completely utilized yet.
The phone comes loaded with pre-installed apps, some of which cannot be deleted. Among some that you find are Google +, Facebook, QuikOffice and YouTube and many more. Google Play is installed for downloading apps. You will need a Google account to download from Google Play. If you don’t have one already you can do it on the phone.
Phone Calls and Contacts
I was easily able to transfer my contacts from my old SIM card to this phone. It is easy to scroll through my contacts list. If you have an extensive contact list, the phone allows for easier searching by creating groups.
I find the phone all quality to be excellent for both cell to landline phone and cell to cell phone calls. In fact, I sometimes have to lower the volume because the person on the other end sounds too loud. Speakerphone is adequate. I don’t use it too often, but I can normally hear the person on the other end fairly well.
There are a variety of ringtones and notification sounds, and of course you can download your own tones. There is the ability to set the ringtone volume to be different from the notification volume. The vibrate function works very well, and you can adjust the intensity of the vibration.
My previous phone had poor volume and vibration intensity. I would often miss calls because I didn’t hear it ring, and I couldn’t even feel the vibration if the phone was in a pocket. So far I don’t think I have missed a single call as a result of not being able to hear it ring.
I still kind of like having an actual keyboard, but those seem to be disappearing from most phones, so I am learning to adjust to the virtual keyboard. The Galaxy Exhilarate comes with a choice of three keyboards. There is the Android keyboard, the Samsung keyboard, and the Swype keyboard. Swype is a new way to input words. While you can use this keyboard in the traditional sense by tapping the letters, the true way to use it is to sweep the finger across the keyboard from letter to letter, without lifting the finger off of the keyboard. The phone has a tutorial to learn the tricks of Swype. My phone is currently set for Swype. Words can be input fairly quickly. It takes a little getting used to, as you don’t have to input things like apostrophes. It does that for you.
The phone allows for voice functions in settings like texting. Speak clearly into the phone and your words will be changed to text.
Web, WiFi and Data
I have a small data plan for my phone however more often than not I use my phone when I have free WiFi access. There is a symbol at the top of the screen that will indicate when WiFi is in use. When the phone is not accessing WiFi, the symbol will switch to 4G.
I have found the phone very quick to access and load the web and web based apps. Applications download quickly. The phone is very responsive to “pinching” to zoom in and out with little to no lag.
Concerned about your data usage? The phone is equipped to track data usage, and you can set up a time frame to monitor the usage. Your billing cycle is the best way to track it. You can set up the phone to give you a warning when you have used a set amount of data, and even set a number where the phone will cut off mobile data usage. At that point you would only have access to free WiFi. For someone like me with a small data plan, I find this to be a good feature.
The screen is incredibly crisp, clear and vibrant. I have only taken a few pictures, but they all look very clear. I sometimes watch TV on the phone, and I am amazed about how incredibly the picture is.
I don’t use the camera too often, but the picture quality seems good. The camera has a flash, and there is a lens both sides so that you can take a picture of yourself. There are a ton of picture taking settings including scene mode, timer, and effects.
Screen Lock and Security
There are six security options for unlocking the screen. You can opt not to have a screen lock or have a swipe to unlock. With a touch screen phone, I would suggest at least having a swipe to unlock to avoid mistaken phone calls. If you need more security on your phone, there are several options which include face unlock, pattern, PIN and a password.
I typically will plug in the phone to recharge before I go to bed. On a normal day my phone use consists of maybe only a couple calls or texts, and possibly a game or two or some type of internet usage. On a normal day I still have at the very least 50-75% battery life left.
I use the Incipio Silicrylic DualPro Case to protect my phone from damage.
Support and Tutorials
Both AT&T and Samsung offer terrific video tutorials to help walk you through learning all about the Galaxy Exhilarate. The videos are broken down by topic, and are very useful especially when learning a new operating system. Samsung also has a huge FAQ list specific to this phone. If you have a question, the answer is likely to be there.
I am very happy with the Samsung Galaxy Exhilarate. The size and weight of the phone are perfect for me. The call quality is great. I love how I have been able to customize my phone. The battery life has been good, and the WiFi access is fast. I am incredibly happy with this phone. For only 99 cents, I got an excellent phone.