The FlipShot has a 500-name phone book. Though that's a tad small for a phone of this caliber, each contact has room for five phone numbers, two e-mail addresses, and notes. You can save callers to groups and pair them with a photo for caller ID. You can also assign them a personalized ringtone, but we were disappointed that on a music phone we were only offered seven, 72-chord polyphonic tones. Other essential offerings include a vibrate mode, text and multimedia messaging, a voice recorder, a speakerphone, a calculator, a calendar, an alarm clock, a stop watch, a world clock, and a notepad. Beyond the basics, the FlipShot offers USB mass storage, speaker-independent voice commands, instant messaging, and Web-based e-mail. Bluetooth is on board, as well, and we were glad that Samsung included a stereo profile. On the other hand, it's too bad that in typical Verizon style the SCH-U900 doesn't offer all Bluetooth object exchange profiles. Also, you won't find calendar syncing.
Samsung emphasizes the FlipShot's camera features, and rightfully so. Its 3-megapixel shooter is one of the best we've seen on a cell phone in a while. You can take pictures in eight resolutions (2,048x1,536 down to 160x120) and choose from three quality settings, three color effects, and three white-balance settings. There's also a digital zoom (unusable at the highest resolution), spot metering, ISO, an auto-focus, three multishot models, a flash, a self-timer, and a brightness control. What's more, the camera offers settings for taking various kinds of shots. You can take portrait, landscape, macro, and night photos, and you can select special settings for shooting pictures at night, in bright daylight, or with a backlight behind your subject. That's a thorough selection of offerings, to say the least.
The camera menus are easy to use, and we like that you can toggle between the various windows at the touch of a button. For example, when you're inside a submenu, pressing the Clear button will take you back to the main menu instead of closing the camera interface completely. We also like that you're given a handy meter to track the remaining memory both on the phone itself (56MB) and on the memory card. For more personalization, you can choose from three shutter sounds and three "ready sounds" (such as "Say cheese!"). Or, if you so desire, you can turn off the sounds completely.
The SCH-U900's camcorder takes pictures in two resolutions (320x240 and 176x144) with sound. The editing options aren't as extensive as on the still camera, but you still get a good selection of options including three quality settings, a self-timer, a choice of color effects, and adjustable brightness and white balance. Clips meant for multimedia messages are capped at 30 seconds; otherwise you can shoot for up to 10 minutes. The SCH-U900 offers a few methods for getting photos off the phone. You can upload them to an online album, transfer them via Bluetooth or a multimedia message, and you can use Veriozn's PictBridge service.
Photo quality on the FlipShot is quite good. Colors are bright and object lines are crisp and distinct. The flash also offered a good amount of light for dim situations, and the autofocus helped to keep the camera steady. Photos had little of the blurriness that we see in other camera phones, but we wouldn't have qualms about printing them out. Our only complaint was that some photos were too bright, but it wasn't a big deal. Videos were decent, as well. There was less pixelation than we're used to seeing, and the sound quality was admirable. But still, it couldn't handle very quick movements. Unfortunately, the SCH-U900's business-card scanner was unreliable. It could capture names and e-mail addresses, but most phone numbers came out jumbled.
As an EV-DO phone, the FlipShot supports the full range of Verizon's 3G services, including the
You can personalize the FlipShot with a variety of wallpapers, display themes, and alert sounds. You also can type a personalized banner. You can download more customization options and additional ringtones from Verizon using the WAP 2.0 wireless Web browser. Unfortunately the SCH-U900 doesn't come with any integrated games, so you'll have to buy titles if you want to play.
We tested the dualband (CDMA 800/1900) FlipShot in San Francisco. Call quality was decent, but it wasn't quite as good as we've heard on other Verizon phones like the LG VX8350. Though the signal was clear and free of static, voices were a bit distorted. Our friends sounded rather breathy, and others sounded like they were heavy smokers. Also, we noticed a slight hiss in the audio at a few points. None of these issues distracted from our overall experience, but they are worth noting.
On their end, callers said we sounded fine. They could tell we were using a cell phone, and they reported a fair amount of wind noise, but they weren't dissatisfied with the call quality. Automated calling systems could understand us, though it's best if you're in a quiet location. Speakerphone calls were quite good. The speakers on the side of the phone are well placed, and they deliver loud audio. We could understand our callers, and they could understand us.
Streaming video quality on the SCH-U900 was uneven. The EV-DO connection was strong, and Web and V Cast pages loaded quickly, but we noticed a fair amount of pixelation in the videos. Small text on the screen was unreadable and quick movements were choppy and blurry. On the upside, the audio was satisfactory and the sound was in sync with the video, but on the whole it wasn't the best V-cast experience.
Fortunately, music quality was better. Thanks to the stereo speakers, the audio was quite loud. In fact, it was good enough to be heard across a large room. Likewise, we were impressed by the sound clarity and sharpness. It won't replace your MP3 player, but it comes close. It took 45 seconds to download a 1.58MB song, which isn't bad.
The FlipShot has a rated battery life of 4 hours talk time and 14.6 days standby time. An extended battery is available, which boosts the promised times to 6 hours and 18.75 days, respectively. We performed our testing without the extended battery and received a talk time of 4 hours, 25 minutes. According to FCC radiation tests the Samsung FlipShot SCH-U900 has a digital digital SAR rating of 1.4 watts per kilogram.