At the same time it introduced the EV-DO, Verizon Wireless also gave us a lower-end alternative with the Samsung SCH-U340. Equipped with a VGA camera, a speakerphone, and basic messaging features, the SCH-U340 lacks fancier offerings like a music player, Bluetooth, and even a wireless Web browser. Except for the speakerphone, call quality was decent and the design is easy to use, but also a bit dull. If you're looking for a handset for making calls but still want to have some camera phone fun, the SCH-U340 isn't a bad buy. You can get it for only $19 with service or even for free if you purchase it online.
Like the SCH-U540, the SCH-U340 has a fairly generic design that borrows elements from other Samsung phones. While we dinged the SCH-U540's design for being dull--we expect a lot from 3G phones--we were more forgiving here since the SCH-U340 is only a VGA camera phone. The handset looks a lot like Sprint's Samsung M500. They have the same simple flip phone design with a monochrome external display, an internal antenna, and a camera lens at the top of the front flap. The phone is compact (3.5 inches by 1.8 inches by 0.8 inch) and lightweight (2.8 ounces), and it has a comfortable feel in the hand. We like the blue color scheme, and the front flap opens and closes with authority.
The postage stamp (96x96 pixels) external display shows the date, time, battery life, signal strength, and caller ID. The screen is monochrome so it doesn't support photo caller ID but it does act as a rudimentary viewfinder for the camera. Speaking of which, the lens sits just above the display sans a flash while the battery charger port sits on the phone's bottom end. The left spine holds a volume rocker and a covered headset jack and the left spine has a camera shutter and a speakerphone control.
The SCH-U340's internal display measures two inches (128x160 pixels) and supports 65,000 colors. The display is decent overall but you definitely notice the change frpm a 262,000-color screen. Color resolution is fine but graphics looked a bit grainy. On the other hand, we like that the SCH-U340 uses a basic Samsung menu interface (available in two styles), rather than Verizon's clunky design. You can change the backlight time, the contrast, and the font style and color.
The navigation array has a standard Samsung design with a square toggle, a central OK button, two soft keys, a clear button, and the Talk and End/power buttons. The controls are easy to understand and are a decent size for the phone's size. You can set the toggle to act as a shortcut to four user-defined functions. The keypad buttons are raised slightly above the surface of the phone and have large backlit numbers. We also like that there's some separation between the individual buttons.
The SCH-U340 has a 500-contact phone book with room in each entry for five phone numbers and two e-mail addresses. You can save callers to a group and pair them with one of nine, 32-chord polyphonic ringtones. Other features consist of a vibrate mode, text and multimedia messaging, voice command and dialing, a calculator, a calendar, an alarm clock, a world clock, a notepad, and instant messaging.