The Samsung SCH-A870 is the latest Samsung cell phone in Verizon's lineup, and while it's not a design showcase or a feature-packed wonder, it's a pretty decent midtier cell phone that should satisfy most consumers. We could've done with a better megapixel camera, but with its price range and target market in mind, we think the SCH-A870 is a better-than-average offering from Verizon. It retails for $99.99, but you can get it for only $49.99 with a two-year contract with Verizon Wireless.
While the SCH-A870 is no fashion phone, it's still quite stylish. Wrapped in silver and accented in black, the SCH-A870 is a slim flip phone measuring 3.6 by 1.8 by 0.85 inches and weighing only 3.4 ounces. Its rounded corners make it great to hold in the hand. The phone opens easily and cradles comfortably next to the ear. The SCH-A870 has a small 1-inch-diagonal external screen in the middle of the front flap, which displays battery and signal strength, the date and time, and caller ID, plus it serves as a self-portrait camera viewfinder when the phone is closed. Above the screen is a VGA camera and a flash. On the left spine are a headset jack and a volume rocker, while the right spine is home to a dedicated camera button and a dedicated speakerphone button.
The internal display measures 1.75 inches diagonally and has 65,000-color support. The screen is bright and colorful, and we liked that we could adjust the backlight timer as well as its contrast. Like most Samsung phones, we could adjust the dialing font to two different sizes, four different styles, and to be with or without hyphenation. We generally aren't fans of the Verizon menu system because it takes several steps to get to certain applications such as the camera and the Web browser. However, with a dedicated camera button and a programmable shortcut key, we're willing to forgive that.
Although the navigation controls and number keypad are smooth, they remain slightly textured and raised, so they're easy to use and dial by feel. There are two soft keys, and a five-way toggle that doubles as shortcuts to the Web browser, Verizon's Get It Now menu, the camera/picture menu, and a user-programmable shortcut key. Underneath the controls are the Talk and End/Power keys, a clear button, and the aforementioned number keypad. The backlight timer on the keypad is adjustable.