Samsung Entro (Virgin Moblie) review:

Virgin Mobile's Samsung Entro: Can't beat the price

The Entro appropriately keeps things simple on the rest of the features front. You can manage graphics and photos, and keep an eye on your account from the phone. A music player might be nice, but it isn't necessary for this type of device. However, I am happy to see voice actions by Nuance on here, which will let you do things like dial with your voice, and is a great way to go hands-free.

There's Bluetooth support on here, and surprisingly, GPS, which is part of the Locations setting. It works with some downloadable apps. Among the basics, you'll find the usual alarm clock, calendar, calculator, world time, a memo pad, and voice memo functionality. There's airplane mode as well.

Samsung Entro
The pocket-size Entro is a bargain on Virgin Mobile, but what you see is just about what you get. Josh Miller/CNET

Call quality is the most important feature on a simple phone of this type, and the question is: how does the Samsung Entro do? Now, Virgin Mobile operates on a single band, 1,900MHz, using the CDMA technology. I tested call quality here in San Francisco on Virgin Mobile's network.

Volume sounded strong to my ears, and voices sounded natural. The background wasn't entirely clear -- I did hear some vocal roughness from my partner, and some mild blips and blops throughout my calls. I liked that there weren't any crackles, fuzziness, or white noise.

My calling partner said that I sounded pretty good, in all, but he's heard better phones. It took him a long time to put his finger on exactly what's wrong. The best we got is that it didn't sound perfectly clear. There were some crackles on his end. Volume was good, but not the highest, though he said it would serve in a low-noise situation. Voices sound natural, but not entirely clear, blunted or a little muffled. There was some distortion, and my voice didn't sound as rich as it does in person, but on the plus side, there wasn't background noise at all.

Samsung Entro call quality sample Listen now:

When I tested speakerphone at waist level, I immediately noticed that voices took on a distant, tinny quality. There wasn't much echo, which I did appreciate, but volume did drop significantly and I had to ratchet it up. On my testing partner's side of things, he noticed a few crackles despite the good volume, and said that my voice sounded about the same way it did over the standard mode. From his landline, he said the Entro offers a pretty good speakerphone.

The Entro has a rated battery life of 4.5 hours talk time and a standby time of 20 days on its 1,000mAh battery. During our talk time test, it lasted 5.08 hours. It runs on a 480MHz Qualcomm QSC6155 processor. According to the FCC, the Entro's digital SAR measures 0.70 watt per kilogram.

Final thoughts
The Samsung Entro isn't much to look at, but it isn't meant to be. Taken at face value, it's a perfectly suitable simple phone for fielding calls and texts. It also comes in at the right price -- just $15 for the phone and a Virgin Mobile PayLo plan that starts as low as $20 per month, no contracts required. So long as simple and functional is your cup of tea, the Entro should provide. However, since call quality is the phone's chief function, I urge you to try out its call quality in your area to ensure that it's adequate. If you're open to a slightly pricier, but fuller-featured handset, you could also try out Virgin Mobile's Samsung Montage messaging phone.

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