The Samsung Byline is the perfect example of a Metro PCS cell phone. Compact, easy to use, and functional, it's designed for making calls, sending messages, and simple Web browsing. The Byline, aka the SCH-R310, shuns all multimedia extras--you won't even find a VGA camera--but it offers Bluetooth and voice dialing. Those are nice additions, but the call quality could be better. At $99, it's not dirt cheap, but it's a great buy when you consider that MetroPCS doesn't make you sign a contract.
The Byline has a fairly standard flip-phone design. It is a bit boxy with an abundance of straight lines, but it manages to make a small statement with its candy apple red skin. At 3.5 inches by 1.7 inches by 0.77 inch, the Byline has an average size but weighs just 3.25 ounces. We had no problems slipping it into a packet or bag. The hinge feels relatively sturdy, but we're not confident that the all-plastic casing would withstand a lot of blows.
The external display is no bigger than a postage stamp (1 inch, 96x96 pixels), but it supports 65,000 colors. It shows the date, time, battery life, signal strength, and photo caller ID. Just keep in mind that the Byline lacks a camera, so you'll have to get photos on the phone a different way. The dark mirrored panel that surrounds the display is a fingerprint magnet. On the left spine you'll find a volume rocker, while the right spine holds a speakerphone button and a combination headset jack/charger port. Of course, a combined port means that the connection is proprietary and that you can use only one peripheral at a time.
The Byline's internal display is a tad small at 1.77 inches. It also has a relatively low resolution with support for just 65,000 colors (128x160 pixels). Normally we'd raise a stink about such a display, but it's not a worry on a low-end handset like the Byline. It's relatively bright and colorful, and the menus are easy enough, even if the graphics aren't very sharp. You can alter the backlight time, the contrast, and the dialing font size.
Below the display is the spacious navigation array. It offers a square toggle and central OK button, two soft keys, the Talk and End/power buttons, and a clear key. All of the controls are flat, but their large size makes them easy to use. It's a similar story with the large keypad buttons; they're also flush but we could text and dial without making mistakes. The keypad buttons are brightly backlit for dialing in the dark.