In defense of the basic phone

Though some CNET readers questioned why we reviewed Sprint's Samsung M360, CNET's mission always has been to review every cell phone offered by a major U.S. carrier.

The M360 may not be exciting, but it works. Josh Miller/CNET

Soon after I posted the news of Sprint's new Samsung M360 last week, I received a few e-mails from CNET readers wondering why such a simple phone was worthy of our attention. As reader sdf0013 put it in the comments section of the blog, the M360 news was "out of place for the usually tech-savvy CNET crowd."

Though I answered sdf0013's comment at the time, other readers offered similar comments after we reviewed the M360 on Wednesday. So I wanted to take this opportunity to address their concerns and defend the M360's merits.

CNET's mission to our readers has always been to review every cell phone offered by the major U.S. wireless carriers. From the fanciest models to the most basic devices, we show no prejudice toward what we'll take the time to analyze. Of course, high-end smartphones and flashy messaging devices will get priority, but eventually we'll cover the entire handset lineups for T-Mobile, AT&T, Verizon Wireless, and Sprint. And don't worry if you're with a smaller carrier like MetroPCS or U.S. Cellular, as your phones will get our attention as well.

I speak for all members of the cell phone reviews team--Bonnie, Nicole, Jessica, and myself--when I say that we value all our readers. We recognize that many of you are focused on the latest and greatest, but quite a few CNET readers also just want a device for making calls. Indeed, for every letter I received questioning why we'd bother to review the no-frills M360, I received another asking for our opinion on Sprint's newest phone.

The pace of innovation in the cell phone world is supersonic, but even as smartphones explode in number, the basic phone hasn't been put to pasture. And there's no reason that it should. At least for the next few years, there will be a need for a straightforward, easy-to-use device that's built for communication and won't break the bank. Manufacturers may throw in a camera and a couple of other goodies, but not everyone needs a Web browser, a music player, and an avalanche of apps.

Technology does not have to be complicated or powerful to be successful. A phone may not be exciting, but we need something to balance out the overhyped handsets. And if that phone does its job well--as the M360 surely did--then all the better. But at the end of the day, no matter how a basic phone performs, CNET will put it through its paces.

 

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