As cell phones transition from communication devices to fashion accessories, even basic models aim to appeal to the style conscious. Even if it's as a simple as a choice of colors, functional handsets, such as the Sanyo SCP-2400, are trying to stand out. That's why it's becoming more surprising to see phones like the Samsung SPH-A420 for Sprint. Not only is its design uninspired, it's downright boring and reminiscent of the first flip phones from a few years ago. You won't find a lot under the hood either, as the features reflect the minimalist style. However, as a phone for making calls, the SPH-A420 gets the job done.
From the outset, you can see that the SPH-A420 won't win any beauty contests. Completely straight lines and sharp corners give it an almost perfectly rectangular shape, while the silver color and black band won't catch envious looks on the street. On the upside, the phone is compact (3.4 by 1.7 by 0.8 inches) and lightweight (2.9 ounces), so it slips easily into a pocket and won't weigh you down. Also, the construction is solid, and we felt comfortable holding the phone while talking. We're surprised, however, that phone manufacturers are continuing to pump out models without external displays. We realize it may save a few dollars, but that means you must open the SPH-A420 to see your caller's identity.
Flip open the mobile, and you'll find a standard Samsung internal display. Measuring 1.6 inches diagonally (128x160 pixels) and supporting 65,000 colors, it's quite serviceable for a phone of this caliber. Colors are sharp and the screen bright. You can change the backlighting time and the dialing font size and color, but other screen-editing options are not available. Also, like the Samsung SPH-A640, it's one of the first handsets to support Samsung's new menu designs.
The SPH-A420's navigation array has a typical Samsung design. A four-way toggle surrounds a central OK button and doubles as a shortcut to four user-defined functions. The other controls included two soft keys, the talk and end/power buttons, and a back key. There's also a dedicated speakerphone key, which is a nice touch. The keypad buttons are flat with the surface of the phone, so it's somewhat hard to dial by feel. They're decently sized, though, and they benefit from a bright backlighting. The only exterior features are a volume rocker and a covered headset jack on the left spine and a tiny green light on the front flap that blinks for incoming calls.