I have been looking around for a new phone. Virgin Mobile USA has been at least six months too slow to release the next generation of high-end prepaid handsets, so I began to look elsewhere, and I found the Samsung Exhibit II 4G from T-Mobile. I wanted to compare it to the Motorola Triumph that I so heavily appealed for in the rumor stages of release and suddenly dropped as soon as the build quality was a fish in a barrel.
I began my search on the specs-page for the Exhibit. The processor listed as 1GHz, MSM8255, Qualcomm. Right off the bat, that’s definitely better than my Optimus V but is it comparable with the Triumph? The Triumph has 1GHz, MSM8655, Qualcomm. Via Wikipedia on Snapdragon, the Exhibit processor is actually a sub-generation behind the Triumph processor. In terms of graphics, they both share the Adreno 205, and the Triumph is probably underclocked to conserve battery life, but the speeds are the same despite the gap. In general, any thing is an improvement over the 600 MHz in the Optimus V. Still, getting a phone in 2012 with a processor from mid-2010 is kind of dismaying.
The Exhibit has 512MB of memory, which is great, though the Triumph is identical in that respect. The differentiation comes from the screen sizes. The Exhibit has a smaller 3.7-inch screen but with a higher 252 PPI resolution which is nearly iPad-retina display quality, while the 4.1-inch Triumph has slightly lower at 228 PPI. The 3.2-inch Optimus V has the lowest among the all, but it’s fair to read on nonetheless.
The camera is a lackluster feature in the Exhibit II 4G, at 3 megapixels though it is slightly redeeming that it comes with the front-facing VGA standard camera. The Triumph of course beats that with 5 megapixels. Both handsets come with an LED flash. Only the Triumph would provide a definite upgrade over the Optimus V 3 megapixel camera but I question the lens.
The weight of a phone does not really matter to me as long as the build quality does not present itself as huge seams creaking in protest when I hold it. The Exhibit is very light at 113 grams while the Triumph is heavier at 143 grams, probably due to the screen size. And of course with weight, comes battery life. These numbers mean as close to dirt as their provided by manufacturers’ fake testing, but the Exhibit gets a paltry 5.5 hours of usage, while the Triumph gets an even worse 5 hours. I am not making these numbers up: they really do suck this badly. The batteries are rated at 1500 mAh and 1380 mAh respectively, so it’s slightly easier to see the Triumph failing in this respect. In my usage, the Optimus V can perform admirably – as long as the WiFi in the area is actually good enough to connect to without searching for it for six hours. My days usually start around 6am and by 3pm, I am close to 45% with light usage (checking mail, time, listening to podcasts for 45 minutes, etc).
And then there’s the network. Virgin Mobile is a great network here in the Twin Cities, and for everything I am paying – it does well. I can download a podcast that’s 26 megabytes in maybe 15 minutes while I am on the bus (a 25 minute journey). With all that said, it is still slow usually and probably not to be relied on. The 4G speeds offered by the Exhibit are questionable: I have seen numbers from 2 megabits, 4 and even 9 megabits down. T-Mobile coverage for phone, 4G and 3G is great in the University of Minnesota and surrounding Twin Cities area. And for the secret $30/mo 100 minute-unlimited texting and data-plan from T-Mobile’s prepaid division online – matching up quite well with my grandfathered-in $25/mo 300 minute-unlimited texting and data-plan from Virgin Mobile. The 4G is the wild card and switching would mean giving up an entire $10 monthly.
Deriving the opinion of the masses from Amazon, the Triumph gets 3.7 out of 5 stars from 233 reviewers, while the Exhibit gets 4.1 out of 5 stars from 223 reviewers. I am loyal to three things: cost, reliability and the handsets.
So, which phone wins here? The Motorola Triumph is notorious with its build quality issues. I do not know if those issues persist seven months later, but if it does, then a slightly lesser phone would be a better bet. The 4G Exhibit is mildly less high-end but not enough to be a major detractor.