Samsung Conquer 4G Review
- Zippy performance
- Good front facing camera
- Near pure Android OS
- Good battery life
What’s Not so Cool
- Small display
- Low-res primary camera
- Boring design
Look and Feel
The Conquer 4G’s appearance reminded us of a second-generation smartphone. It’s not a clunky awkward mess, but it doesn’t look as refined as the handsets of today. Pretty much what you see is what you get, which just so happens to be a 3.5-inch HVGA display, physical Android menu buttons, Samsung and Sprint branding on the front and more Samsung branding on back in case you missed it the first time. When looking at the Conquer 4G it doesn’t seem that a lot of thought went into its physical design.
Once you get the Conquer 4G in your hand, you’ll notice it has a light and somewhat plasticky feel to it. It doesn’t feel cheap by any means, but it is far from luxurious. Old Sammy went against the Android grain and opted for squishy physical buttons all around, including a dedicated camera button. You won’t need large hands to consume the near 4.5-inch tall handset, but if your mitts resemble that of a professional basketball player, the Conquer 4G’s textured backing will remind you what’s in your hands. It may not be the Ferrari of phones, but the Conquer 4G’s economy build quality should be able to stand up to most of the physically demanding smartphone users out there.
In what really feels like a bit of curve ball, the Conquer 4G is rocking a near stock build of Gingerbread version 2.3.4. We say near, because it is still fluffed with Sprint bloatware and Sprint ID. Sadly none of these can be removed, at least while things are locked down. However we’re glad to say in spite of the extra software gunk, things flow pretty smoothly. Running an almost pure Google operating system really pushes the Conquer 4G past mid-range status and puts it in the company of some of the more premiere handsets that go for twice the price. We’re not too sure who makes the decision of what ends up with TouchWiz and what ends up with stock Android, but we’d have to say they made a good call on this one.
Hardware and Performance
Keeping with our baseball lingo, in regards to hardware Samsung has thrown the Conquer 4G somewhat of a changeup. Normally keeping things in-house with their Hummingbird processors, the Conquer 4G carriers an almost foreign 1GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon processor. This really caught us off guard, but the phone’s performance doesn’t suffer one bit! After running multiple benchmarks, the Conquer 4G on average scored over 1,100. It won’t be dethroning our PHOTON 4G anytime soon, but considering the Conquer 4G’s price point, this isn’t too shabby.
Though the Conquer 4G is on par with most of last year’s top handsets, the only thing it true lacks is a large display. Sporting a 3.5-inch HVGA display felt a bit outdated. Images were fairly clear and text was passable, but when placed next to a 4.3-inch qHD or Super AMOLED Plus display, the Conquer 4G’s budget phone roots begin to surface.
Call Quality and Data
If it can’t make a call, why bother? We’re very glad to say that Samsung hit a home run in regards to call clarity. During our random call tests everything was loud and clear on both ends. We’ve yet to experience any choppiness or dropped calls. The wireless radio in the Conquer really performs well and managed to grab a signal where some of the more high-end handsets struggled.
Being Spirnt’s first brand new $100 4G smartphone, we wondered how the Conquer’s data speeds would fair. In typical Sprint fashion the handset scored the usual numbers (4Mbps download and 1Mbps upload), which was acceptable in our location’s coverage area. We always consider connections on a case by case basis, because results depend drastically on your location. It is always good to check out Sprint’s coverage map for your location. The above mentioned numbers validate that the Conquer 4G is on par with the rest of Sprint’s 4G competition and that was our main concern.
Equipped with a 1,500 mAh battery, the Conquer 4G has some of the best battery performance that we’ve seen from a 4G handset to date. You can easily go a day between charges on almost heavy use. If you’re one of the lucky ones, that has a constant 4G connection, the Conquer 4G is ready for a marathon. We’re assuming that the small display plays a role in the Conquer’s excellent juice management, which almost makes us overlook its small stature.
With the camera being the last at bat in this write up, we’d have to call Samsung’s pitch a screwball. The reason we say this, is because unlike most handsets with dual cameras, the Conquer 4G’s best shooter is in the front. The primary camera is a lowly 3.2-megapixel sensor with a single LED flash. It will be good for Facebook pictures and sharing pictures via MMS, but that’s about it. Samsung took the high road in regards to the Conquer 4G’s 1.3-megapixel front facing camera sensor, which is one of the best we’ve seen on any stage. It appears that Samsung has placed their bets on people using the Conquer 4G for video calls. A good idea in theory, but we’d still like to see a better primary camera sensor.
When stacked up against mid-level phones the Conquer 4G is almost an obvious choice. Its performance almost outshines them in almost every way, but when placed next to some of the more beastly superphones, it almost looks like it crawled out of the bargain bin. The Conquer 4G’s real competition is the superphones from yesterday. Phones like the HTC EVO 4G and Samsung Epic 4G are on par with the Conquer 4G and are even better in some regards. If you’re able to find one of them at the same price, we’d have to say pass on the Conquer 4G and keep it old school, but if you can’t find a deal to save your life, the Conquer 4G is far from a letdown.