The VGA camera takes photos in three resolutions, from 640x480 pixels to 176x144 pixels. Other editing options include a night mode, a self-timer, three quality settings, four color tones, four white balance settings, series and divided shot modes, 29 frames, adjustable brightness, and three shutter sounds, plus a silent option. The Axle does not record video.
When finished taking photos, you can save them to the phone, upload them to an online album, and send them to friends via Bluetooth or a multimedia message. The Axle offers about 50MB of shared user-accessible memory. Photo quality is fine for a VGA camera. Colors are bright, but our shots were somewhat blurry.
You can personalize the Axle with a variety of color themes, banners, and wallpaper. More options are available from U.S. Cellular's EasyEdge Web portal. You'll also have to use the WAP browser to download games as none come on the phone. You can buy additional ringtones with the integrated Tone room application.
We tested the dual-band (CDMA 800/1,900) in San Francisco. Since we're outside U.S. Cellular's home network, we were roaming on Verizon Wireless. Call quality was quite decent overall; though the audio sounds just a tad harsh, the signal was strong and we didn't encounter any static or interference. The volume also gets quite loud, though the audio was somewhat distorted at the highest levels. It wasn't a huge problem, and it could be because we were roaming off U.S. Cellular's home network, but the call quality wasn't exceptional.
Callers said we sounded pretty good. They could tell we were using a cell phone and some of your friends reported the same audio distortion, but they also said that the minor issues didn't ruin their experience. Automated calling systems could understand us as long as we were in a quiet room. Speakerphone calls were enjoyable, surprisingly. We didn't hear any of the distortions encountered during regular voice calls, though we did have to speak close to the phone if we wanted to be heard on the other end. Also, it takes too many clicks to activate the speakerphone once you've placed a call.
The Samsung Axle has a rated battery life of 4 hours talk time. Our tests showed a talk time of 5 hours and 41 minutes. According to FCC radiation tests, the Axle has a digital digital SAR of 1.06 watts per kilogram.