As with many phones in this category, the Haven brings several features to the surface with shortcut buttons. Just below the display are buttons for voice commands, the photo gallery, and voice mail. The photo gallery shortcut is a head-scratcher for a phone that comes preloaded with a handful of images but doesn't possess a camera to take its own shots.
Samsung did better with the navigation array and dialpad, which features large, backlit buttons. Surrounding the four-way directional pad and central OK button are two soft keys, and buttons for 911, in-case-of-emergency (ICE) numbers, and speakerphone. There are also Send, End, and Clear keys. The numbered keypad is excellent to use, with the large, domed keys offering an almost bouncy feedback. In addition to fully separated keys, two small bumps on the "5" help callers orient their way around the dialpad by feel. The pound (#) key also doubles as a shortcut to vibrate mode.
The Haven's unique senior-focused features complement the organizational options that are standard to almost every cell phone. There's room for 500 contacts in the address book, including four phone numbers and a customizable ringtone--choose from 20 options or silent mode. You also can assign a picture from the photo gallery. The basic tools include a calendar, an alarm clock, a calculator, a tip calculator, a world clock, and a stop watch. You can also compose text messages and assign 99 speed-dial numbers. Though you cannot send a picture message, the Haven will receive one.
Voice commands (powered by Nuance) include full-menu readouts. This is a more advanced feature that's also universally useful, especially to those with weaker vision. Four more senior-conscious tools live in the "Wellbeing & Health" submenu. There's a pill-reminder app that accepts up to five reminder alarms you can set to ring daily or weekly. A medical info selection tracks three entries. The Fitness Trainer features a tutorial for 15 static stretches, and four esoterically named ditties comprise Healing Music. We can see the utility in the ICE numbers, 911 shorthand, medical info list, and reminder alarms, but the stretches and healing music selections seem like a reach.
We evaluated the dual-band Samsung Haven (CDMA 800/1900) using Verizon's network in San Francisco. Call quality was nice and strong at times, and variable at others. Though voices sounded naturally loud and true, some calls produced a slight tinny echo. Other times, our caller's voice momentarily cut away. Speakerphone quality was impressive during our tests--for the most part clear and strong.
Call quality also varied on the receiving end. Caller feedback ranged from tinny to clear, but always with high volume and vocal clarity. Callers could tell when we engaged the speakerphone, though that didn't disrupt the call.
The Samsung Haven has a rated battery life of 5 hours, with up to 14 days of standby time. It has a tested talk time of 5 hours and 4 minutes. FCC tests measured a digital SAR of 0.41 watt per kilogram.