UTStarcom CDM-120 (CDM-7025)
While camera and music phones may be all the rage these days, most people just want a cell phone that can make calls. So despite the hype around fancy handsets, entry-level cell phones still have a place in today's market, especially for those that can't always afford the latest and greatest in cell phone technology. The UTStarcom CDM-120 from Sprint Nextel, for example, is as basic as cell phones get, with a supertrim feature set. It's available for $149.99, but with a new two-year contract with Sprint, you can get it for free.
From the inside out, the UTStarcom CDM-120 is the definition of simplicity. Its black and dark-gray plastic exterior bears no markings, save for a Sprint logo and a LED on the front cover that glows when the phone is charging. The CDM-120 doesn't even have an external screen; in this regard, it's perhaps too bare for a lot of people, as it means you must open the flip to see who's calling. On the left spine are a volume rocker and a headset jack, while on the right spine is a charger port. On the bottom, you'll find an accessory port for accessories such as a USB cable, whereas an extendable antenna resides up top. The overall handset is compact (3.46 by 1.9 by 0.8 inches) and lightweight (3.2 ounces); it feels comfortable in the hand and when cradled next to the ear.
When the phone is open, you're presented with a 1.5-inch-diagonal internal screen that seems a little too small. It supports 65,000 colors, which is typical of most basic cell phones. While you can't adjust its brightness and font size, you can adjust the contrast and the backlight time. The default menu style consists of large graphical symbols denoting the menu options, or you can select a list-style display. We had no trouble viewing the screen indoors, but in direct sunlight, it appeared faded and washed out.
Below the display are the navigational controls, which consist of two soft keys, the contacts list, and the calendar. You'll also find a My Favorites folder that holds customized shortcuts to frequently accessed applications and a five-way navigational toggle that doubles as shortcuts to messaging,. Below the toggle is the Back button, flanked by the Talk and End/power keys on either side. Much like the numerical keypad underneath, all the navigational controls and keys are slightly raised above the surface of the phone, making for a tactile navigation and dialing. The keys glow with a blue backlight when activated, and the backlight time is adjustable.