When choosing our first smartphone recently, we didn’t go for the new Windows phone, Nokia’s Lumia, or the Nexus 4, which sold out at T-Mobile within minutes of its introduction. Now that’s hot!

We went with the Samsung Galaxy S Relay 4G. Why? We wanted a physical keyboard.

The keyboard slides out and allows us to avoid frustration when typing. Some reviewers have criticized the feel of the keys, but we found them more satisfying than typing on the phone’s glass screen.

The Relay has the Android “Ice Cream Sandwich” operating system, front and rear-facing cameras, and a nearly twelve-hour battery life.  The sound quality is quite good and music sounds better on it than it does on our iPod Touch. GarageBand and many other fun apps come pre-installed.

We’re on the $30 a month, unlimited web and texting and 100 talk-minutes plan. By saving about $50 a month over the typical contract, we’ll shortly recoup the $400 we spent on the phone. By the way, this is a special deal. When we called to activate the plan, the T-Mobile rep told us we could only get it if we bought the phone at Walmart. This turned out to be not true. We told him we had a transcript of our chat with the first rep, and only then did he admit that this deal is also available on the web. So we hung up and activated our phone on the web. Sometimes, you have to get tough.

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