Samsung SGH-V review: Samsung SGH-V

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3.5 stars

CNET Editors' Rating

The Good Built-in camera; works on GPRS networks; IR port; world phone; 65,000-color display.

The Bad Picture options could be better; can't save photos for caller ID.

The Bottom Line Samsung's SGH-V206 has an arguably sleeker design than other camera-phone hybrids but falls short on implementation.

7.6 Overall
  • Design 8.0
  • Features 8.0
  • Performance 7.0

Review summary

Editors' note:
If you live in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Boston, Philadelphia, Washington, DC, or Chicago and use this phone with AT&T Wireless service, the company invites you to trade in your phone for one of these four newer models: the Sony Ericsson T226 , the Nokia 3100 , the Nokia 3200, or the Siemens C56. This does not mean that your existing phone will stop working or even have a decrease in service. The four models offered work on AT&T's expanded GSM 850 frequency in those locales, which means a wider coverage area for you.

With a built-in, swiveling camera lens and sleek, silver style, Samsung's V206 is a real head-turner. However, this mobile isn't all looks and no brains; it has its share of high-end features, including world-roaming capabilities and an IR port. Plus, it works on AT&T's GPRS networks. We just wish the company included a better way to share images. As it stands, the V206 faces tough competition from Sanyo and LG.

At first glance, the V206 looks conspicuously similar to its sibling, the S105 . Only the square-shaped external LCD and the Samsung designer label on the top of the phone set it apart. But take a closer look, and you'll notice that the V206 weighs less (3.0 ounces) and is slightly longer (4.3 by 1.8 by 0.9 inches) than its T-Mobile brethren. The extra length is attributable to the built-in rotating camera lens tucked into the hinge of the phone.

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Samsung's version is smaller than other camera/phone hybrids
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Light it up: The translucent strip can illuminate various calls based on the phone's function.

Unlike the Sanyo SCP-5300 , this model doesn't have an onboard flash. Additionally, you can't utilize the external LCD as a viewfinder or to display pictures of incoming callers. However, the external screen shows all the basic information: time, date, caller ID (when available), network, and battery strength. And as with all camera phones, the internal 65,000-color, eight-line display doubles as a viewfinder. As for the camera, since you can rotate the lens, you can always turn it on yourself and use it as a mirror. To take pictures, hit the button with a camera icon; this launches the camera application and serves as a shutter-release control. It's worth noting that you must have the phone flipped open before you can take a picture.

On the side of the phone, you'll find a headset jack, an IR port, and two volume-control buttons, which can be used to scroll through the V206's menus. When the phone is closed, there's a translucent strip that can be set to light up various colors--or not at all. Once you flip open the phone, you'll appreciate that you can choose between a list or an icon-driven menu interface. The keypad is similar to the one found on other Samsung models such as the S105 and the A460, which we prefer since it keeps misdials to a minimum. Above the keypad is a four-way rocker key for maneuvering through the V206's menus, as well as a button in the middle that launches Mmode services. While it's convenient, we kept mistaking it for an OK/Enter button.

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Candid camera: Take pictures on the sly.

The V206 has all the features you'd expect, including caller ID, conference calling, voicemail, text messaging, an alarm, a 500-name internal phone book (you can store more names and numbers on the SIM card), a calendar, a calculator, a to-do list, a currency converter, and wireless Web access, as well as Spanish, English, and French menus. There are three games, 25 polyphonic ring tones, a vibrate mode, and a couple of wallpaper options onboard. If you opt for Mmode services, you can download additional ring tones, pictures, wallpaper, and games, as well as send e-mail and chat with friends via AIM.

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