The Samsung Smooth is a basic-looking, budget-friendly phone with some compelling extras. It's a good option for Verizon customers who don't want to extend their contracts just to get a reasonable price on a new handset.
Not every cell phone on Earth needs to pack in all the bells and whistles found on ultrahigh-end models like the iPhone. But for those who still want a fair amount of extras at an affordable price, there are handsets like the Samsung Smooth (aka the SCH-U350).
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This basic mobile for Verizon Wireless costs as little as $29.99 with a contract and comes with some handy extras, such as Bluetooth and a simple Web browser. It doesn't offer the best call quality, but budget-minded users with a hankering for something simple may be willing to overlook this drawback.
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The Samsung Smooth's design is pretty underwhelming, but that may not matter to those who want basic functionality and value pricing. A small (1-inch) color screen adorns the outer shell, and there's a camera lens just above that. The display shows wallpaper of your choice and--by default--displays the time and date, battery meter, and service bars. It also supports photo caller ID info and it doubles as a self-portrait viewfinder.
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Flipping open the Samsung Smooth reveals a standard alphanumeric keypad with large, easy-to-press buttons. The navigation array includes a five-way toggle with a central OK button, two soft keys, Talk and End/power controls, and a clear/back key. These combined with the straightforward onscreen interface make the Smooth quite simple to operate.
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Plus, there's a dedicated volume toggle on the left edge that's easy to use during calls.
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Dedicated camera and speakerphone buttons line the right spine. Here, you'll also find the phone's charging port and a 2.5mm headset jack (but you'll have to provide your own headset).
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Given the affordable pricing, we're fairly impressed with the variety of features that the Smooth offers. You'll find Bluetooth, voice dialing and commands, a speakerphone, and a personal organizer with options like a calendar and a calculator.
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Still, there are some caveats. Though the phone offers a basic Web browser, using an alphanumeric keypad and 1.9-inch screen to navigate even the most concisely designed mobile sites is a bit of a chore. Also, while there is an onboard VGA camera, the photo quality isn't great and the features aren't plentiful.
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Although we didn't experience any significant issues, we noticed that mobile-to-mobile calls sometimes sounded garbled and audio quality was not the cleanest in general. As such, the Smooth is probably not the best option for heavy callers.