CNET readers frequently ask if they can buy a cell phone that's just a phone. Although carriers tend to emphasize camera phones and mobiles with fancy features, a sizable number of consumers just want their cell phone for one thing: to make calls. Fortunately for them, there are handsets that fit that description. Take, for example, the Samsung SGH-X495 for T-Mobile. A basic, functional cell phone, it's designed solely with this purpose in mind. The simplicity is also reflected in the low price of $129, which ends up being even cheaper with service.
Even though you think it might resemble the, the Samsung SGH-X495's sleek form factor more closely resembles that of an earlier T-Mobile phone, the (minus the camera, of course). Between the two models, there's no external antenna, and a small, monochrome external screen shows the date, the time, battery life, signal strength, and caller ID (where available). Yet, the X495 stands apart from its predecessor with its silver and white color scheme. Since silver Samsung phones are a dime a dozen, the white is a nice change; overall, it has a soothing effect. The phone is compact at 3.5 by 1.9 by 1.0 inches, as well as lightweight at 3.0 ounces, but it retains a relatively sturdy construction. Also, on the outside of the phone, you'll find a volume rocker and a headset port on the left spine.
Open the phone, and you'll find a 1.75-inch display that supports 65,000 colors. It's a decent size, considering the phone's compact shape, and it's adequate for viewing the user-friendly menus. You can change the backlight time, the brightness, and the font color but not the font size. Below the screen are the spacious navigation controls. A five-way toggle acts as a shortcut to four user-defined functions. It is surrounded by two soft keys, a Clear button, and the Talk and End keys. In the middle of the toggle is a button that serves a dual purpose. In standby mode, it acts as a shortcut to T-Mobile's t-zones Internet service, but when inside a menu, it functions as an OK button. It's not the best arrangement, but we've grown accustomed to it. The backlit keypad buttons are a bit small, and they're set flush with the surface of the phone.
The Samsung SGH-X495 has a 500-contact phone book with room in each entry for five phone numbers and an e-mail address; the SIM card can hold an additional 250 names. You can organize contacts into caller groups, but only individual groups can be paired with one of the 20 polyphonic ring tones, 10 of which are MegaTones. You can also assign groups a picture, but it won't show up on the external display.