If you're looking for a low-end camera phone with a simple design, you can always count on Samsung. The company spins them out fast and furiously in the United States, particularly in the run-up to the holiday season. The Samsung SPH-M320 for Sprint is the newest model to fit this mold. Its design is minimalist and easy to use, and it offers a quality VGA camera. On the downside, the call quality is variable, and the display is a little two low-res for our tastes. But, in the end, it's not a bad handset for occasional callers. Alternatively, if you want the basic functionality without the shooter, the SPH-M220 is the SPH-M320's cameraless counterpart. The M320 is just $19.99 with service.
The SPH-M320 has a standard flip-phone design, but that doesn't mean it doesn't have its good points. The red color is attractive, and the light-catching mirror goes easy on the fingerprints and smudges. At 3.6 inches tall by 1.86 inches wide by 0.85 inch deep, and weighing 2.68 ounces, the phone is also slim, lightweight, and compact. The handset feels comfortable in the hand, and the hinge is sturdy, but the plastic skin feels a tad flimsy.
The external display is no bigger than a postage stamp, but it shows all the information you need, including the date, time, battery life, signal strength, and numeric caller ID. And with support for 65,000 colors (96x96 pixels), it also shows photo caller ID and works as a viewfinder for the external display, which sits just above. You can choose from a few clock styles and adjust the contrast. The remaining exterior controls include a volume rocker and a micro-USB port on the left spine, and a 2.5mm headset jack and a camera shutter on the right spine.
The SPH-M320's internal display measures a sizable 1.8 inches, but it supports just 65,000 colors (128x145 pixels). On a phone without a camera we wouldn't really mind, but even a handset with a VGA shooter deserves a higher-resolution screen. Colors were relatively bright and the menus are simple, but graphics and photos were far from sharp. You can change the backlighting time, the brightness, and the dialing-font size and color.
We very much approved of the SPH-M320's navigation array and keypad. Both have spacious layouts with tactile buttons. What's more, the numbers on the keys are large and the backlighting is bright. On the array there's a four-way toggle with a central OK button, two soft keys, Talk and End/power controls, and a back key. The toggle doubles as a shortcut to four features of your choice.
The SPH-M320's phone book holds 499 contacts, with room in each entry for five phone numbers, a URL, an e-mail address, a nickname, and notes. You can assign callers to groups and pair them with a photo and one of 20 polyphonic ringtones. Alternatively, you can compose your own ringtones using the integrated voice recorder. Other essentials include a vibrate mode, text and multimedia messaging, a calendar, a scheduler, a task list, a countdown timer, a memo pad, a world clock, an alarm clock, and a calculator.
Though it is miles from being a smartphone, the SPH-M320 offers a couple of extra options. Inside you'll find Bluetooth, voice dialing, and an airplane mode. It also offers instant messaging and browser-based POP3 e-mail. The latter isn't the most user-accessible experience, but it works in a pinch.