Hands-on with the Samsung Replenish

If you're looking to go green in all aspects of your life, including tech, you might want to consider the Samsung Replenish. See what the eco-friendly Android smartphone has to offer.

Samsung Replenish
The Samsung Replenish is Sprint's first eco-friendly Android smartphone. Bonnie Cha/CNET

NEW YORK--Earth Day is fast approaching (April 22), and though you might not think it, there are some green tech gadgets out there. Take, for example, the Samsung Replenish. It's Sprint's first eco-friendly Android smartphone, and the carrier just happened to be in town yesterday to show off the handset at an EcoFocus media event, so we thought it would be a good opportunity to check it out.

First, what makes the Replenish environmentally friendly? Well, 82 percent of the handset is made from recyclable materials and the casing is 34.6 percent post-consumer recycled plastic content. This really doesn't affect the quality of the build, as we found the phone to feel pretty solid in the hand and not too plasticky. At 4.8 inches tall by 2.4 inches wide by 0.5 inch thick and 4.1 ounces, it's a good size and easy to carry around. I don't think it's going to win any beauty contests, but, hey, being green can be sexy, right?

The Replenish is like the Motorola Droid Pro in that it combines a touch screen with a physical QWERTY keyboard. The display measures 2.8 inches diagonally and has a QVGA 240x320-pixel resolution. After testing some of the higher-end devices, it's a bit of a shock going to such a low-res screen, but the display is still clear and bright enough to get the job done. The touch screen felt responsive and though it's on the smaller side, at least you don't have to worry about pecking out messages on an onscreen keyboard.

The keyboard is a little cramped compared with the ones on the Droid Pro and BlackBerry devices, so it may take a little time to adjust and find your rhythm. The buttons are raised well above the surface so they're easy to press, and they provide nice, tactile feedback--not too squishy. In addition to the keyboard, there are four physical buttons just below the display for the home, back, menu, and search shortcuts.

One other interesting design feature is the optional solar battery cover. This $29 accessory, made by a company called Naturacell, lets you charge your phone using solar energy. A small sun icon will appear in the upper right corner of your screen to let you know that it's charging (see slide 4 in the photo gallery below for a closer look).

The Samsung Replenish also offers support for the newest addition to Sprint ID , the Green ID pack. The custom skin provides access to environmental news sites, green tips, and other resources. Having an interest in the environment, I actually found the Green ID pack to be really cool. I particularly liked the apps that showed you the closest recycling centers and local farmers markets. I'd have to have the phone for longer than a few minutes to really see if I'd use the features of Green ID daily or if I'd get over the novelty and remove it, but I like the option.

Aside from the eco-friendly goodness, the smartphone runs Android 2.2 and has a 2-megapixel camera, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS, 3G, and a 600MHz ARM processor.

The Samsung Replenish will be available on May 8 for a very affordable $49.99 with a two-year contract, and Sprint is waiving the monthly $10 premium data add-on fee. The Replenish will come with an energy-efficient charger and its packaging will be fully recyclable. Though it may not be everybody's cup of tea, it's not a bad option, whether you're looking for a budget-friendly smartphone or looking to help the environment.

See also:
Best carriers for recycling your phone
More eco-friendly phones
CNET's green tech guide

 

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