Specialty cell phone carriers haven't had the best track record. Virgin Mobile is still around, but Mobile ESPN, Disney Mobile, and Amp'd Mobile have gone under. Even hotshot Helio, which offered the Helio Ocean, merged with Virgin Mobile last year. Yet, that hasn't stopped Credo mobile from giving the wireless business a go.
As a Mobile Virtual Network Operator, which means that it doesn't operate its own wireless network, Credo is aiming for a politically minded, and thoroughly left-leaning, customer base. Each year the carrier donates one percent of its revenues to progressive groups, and it's active in green initiatives. And if you're already in contract with another carrier, Credo will pay your early termination fee regardless of your political persuasions.
Most of Credo's phones are low-end flip phones such as the LG 160, but the carrier also offers the LG Rumor and the Motorola Q9c. The LG 160 is similar to Sprint's LG VX160, though Credo has added specialized content. Overall, it's a satisfying device for basic communication as long as you know what to expect. The LG 160 is free with a two-year service agreement.
If you looked up flip phone in the cell phone dictionary (not that there is one), you might find a photo of the LG 160. Its compact size (3.54 inches by 1.85 inch by 0.78 inch), curved lines, and black color scheme are trademarks of classic flip design. The silver stripe at the top of the front face adds a touch of style, but ultimately this is not a phone that stands out from the crowd. What's more, its plastic skin and wispy construction (2.72 ounces) won't please outdoor enthusiasts. Yet, for the occasional user who just needs a phone for making calls, it should be fine.
The external display supports 65,000 colors and measures 1.06 inches (96x64 pixels). We think that it could be a little larger, but it shows everything that you need including the date, time, battery life, signal strength, and caller ID. It also supports photo caller ID, though you'll need to be creative with a phone that doesn't have a camera. You can choose a clock style and a screensaver, but the short backlighting time is not adjustable.
Other exterior features include a volume rocker, a 2.5-millimeter headset jack, and a voice-dialing button on the left spine. On the right spine, you'll find a proprietary charger jack. Normally we'd complain about the 2.5-millimeter jack, but we'll let it pass on such a simple phone.
The 3.54-inch internal display supports the standard 262,000 colors (160x128 pixels), which is a step up from Sprint's LX160. The display is bright and everything from photos to colors and graphics looked good. You can change the backlighting time depending on your needs. The menus, whether in grid or list styles, are easy to use.