Travel Tech Review: Super Smart World Phone


Staying connected while on the road is a priority for most travelers even when they’re on vacation and theoretically trying to get away from the office. Staying connected is a downright necessity during our Trans-Americas Journey because the world is our office. We’ve been Verizon fans since 1999 when we returned to the US after four years of backpacking through Asia and walked into a brave new world of mobile communication. When Verizon offered to let us use a Samsung Saga SGH-i777 smart phone ($199.99 with Verizon contract) we jumped at the chance to check it this piece of travel tech.

Since it was on the Verizon network we knew it would work over the initial legs of our Trans-Americas Journey through the US and Canada. And it did.

Even better for travelers? It’s continued to work well beyond that. We cross borders basically for a living and the Saga goes right along with us–seamlessly jumping from the US service provider network to Mexico’s to Belize’s and beyond.

True, Verizon uses the CDMA network while most of the rest of the world uses GSM but the trick is that the Saga uses multi-band GSM creating a dual-band EV-DO Rev A (800/1900-MHz) CDMA phone and a quad-band (850/900/1800/1900-MHz) GSM phone which gives us coverage in just about every country in the world because the Saga delivers world-roaming capabilities with compatibility on both CDMA and GSM networks.

The best part is your number stays the same, EVERYWHERE in the world (of course you have to pay international roaming rates).

The Saga has a 2.6 inch touch screen with 320×320-pixel resolution (navigate with a touchpad or by touching the screen directly with the built-in stylus) and a full QWERTY keyboard and it runs Windows 6.1 making surfing and texting as easy as calling no matter where we wander.

Integrated Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS, and a 2-megapixel camera are all packed into the Saga which measures 4.8 inches tall by 2.4 inches wide by 0.5 inch deep and weighs 4.6 ounces–it’s a touch tall but it still fits into your hand or pocket. Oh, and it can also be used as a modem for your laptop if you activate a BroadbandAccess Connect plan.

There are a few issues to consider:
The Verizon SIM card that allows the Saga to work with GSM systems overseas will not  work domestically and of course the phone is locked so it won’t work with other US carriers’ (AT&T or T-Mobile) SIM cards. This also means the Saga won’t work with prepaid phone cards overseas.

Also, our Saga doesn’t stay in sleep mode which wastes battery, the touchscreen is still active while speaking on the phone so during a conversation you may open up multiple windows and applications inadvertently. Outlook also randomly deletes previously downloaded messages but this appears to be a software issue.

Still, for travelers to multiple countries who need to stay in touch via phone, email and the internet the Saga puts it all in the palm of your hand.

Verizon supplied a Samsung Saga SGH-i777 for us to use and review.

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