Want to transfer your own music to the Samsung SCH-A950? Using the included USB cable, you can sync the phone with your tunes using Windows Media Player 10 on your PC (sorry, Mac users), but with one important caveat: Any MP3s in your collection will need to be converted into WMA files--and lose audio quality in the process--before they're transferred to your phone. Verizon has taken a lot of heat for this limitation and rightfully so; however, we should point out that this restriction applies to all Verizon V Cast phones and not the SCH-A950 in particular.
The Samsung SCH-A950's built-in 1.3-megapixel camera includes all the requisite features, including an LED flash; a 10-image rapid-fire mode; resolutions ranging from 160x120 all the way up to 1,280x960; a 10X digital zoom at the camera's lowest-resolution setting; a 5- to 10-second self-timer; and several white-balance and color settings. It also has a pair of more advanced settings we don't typically see in a camera phone: ISO speed, ranging from auto to 100, 200, and 400, and metering (Average, Center, and Spot). The camera doubles as a camcorder, which will shoot all the video that fits in your available memory (no 10- or 30-second caps on the length of clips) and includes a self-timer (again, for 5- and 10-second settings), as well as white-balance and color tweaks. In our test shots, the camera's still quality was impressive, with rich color, decent detail, and little in the way of video noise, although our images couldn't compete with the snapshots we've seen from 2-megapixel camera phones. Meanwhile, our videos looked predictably murky and jittery, which is par for the course. When finished with your shots, you can remove them from your phone with the TransFlash card or send them in a multimedia message.
Customization options on the Samsung SCH-A950 are good if not great. You can switch out the wallpaper on the internal and external displays with one of nine preloaded pictures or photos from the camera; pair contacts with pictures and ring tones; tweak display and keypad backlighting settings; and choose from six display themes, including default, business, tropical, blue, green, and red. On the downside, you can't set ringer profiles (such as Outdoors or Meeting), and you get a measly six ring tones, five of which are polyphonic. We were hoping for more from a music-themed phone, so you'll have to shell out cash if you want any more and download them via the WAP 2 wireless Web browser. And as with most Verizon phones, there's support for BREW 2, but no games are included with the phone.We tested the dual-band, dual-mode Samsung SCH-A950 (CDMA 850/1900; EV-DO) in New York City on Verizon's network. The phone performed well during our calls; our buddies said we sounded like we were right next door, with no tunneling or echoes, while we heard our callers loud and clear. As expected, the speakerphone sounded loud and a bit tinny. We also tried the handset in the vicinity of a microwave oven, a 32-inch TV, a cordless phone, and a Wi-Fi network, and we didn't hear any obvious interference. We successfully paired the phone with the and enjoyed good clear quality, though the volume was somewhat low.
We were impressed by the Samsung SCH-A950's EV-DO performance; our Web browsing was speedy, and videos and full-length music tracks downloaded in about 30 to 40 seconds. We noticed some network slowdowns as the phone attempted to connect to the V Cast Music servers and while acquiring DRM licenses; once the actual downloads began, though, they were swift. Our videos streamed cleanly and rarely, if ever, paused for buffering; however, we experienced some occasional but distracting lip-sync problems.
As noted before, the Samsung SCH-A950's picture quality was slightly above average for a 1.3-megapixel camera phone, with decent detail, reasonably rich colors, and slight to no video noise, although our snapshots obviously paled in comparison with those taken with 2-megapixel camera phones.
Samsung claims about 3.5 hours of talk time and more than eight days of standby time on the SCH-A950. In our tests, we beat the rated talk time by an hour and the standby time by two days. According to FCC radiation tests, the Samsung SCH-A950 has a digital SAR rating of 1.47 watts per kilogram.