While the major wireless carriers pack their lineups with the latest high-end cell phones, smaller operators such as MetroPCS take a more practical approach. Rather than offering complicated smartphones with pricey features, MetroPCS sticks with low-end camera phones and basic handsets that just make calls. The Samsung Spex, aka the SCH-R210, is of the latter group. Exceedingly simple in form and function, the Spex does exactly what a cell phone should do. You get a Web browser and Bluetooth, but in the end, the Spex is all about communication. You can get it for just $99, but we'd prefer the Kyocera K312P. MetroPCS does not require service contracts.
The Spex's design takes us back a few years. It's not a flip phone or a new-fangled slider model; instead, it's a minimalist candy bar handset with clean lines and a standard silver color. It's also compact (4.07 inches by 1.77 inches by 0.58 inch) and lightweight (3.4 ounces) so you shouldn't have any problems carting it around. The 65,000-color display is rather small and low-resolution (1.5 inches; 128x128 pixels). On any other phone we'd complain but on a handset this simple and this cheap we really don't mind. The menus are accessible and you can alter the contrast, the backlighting time, and the dialing font size.