Samsung Knack SCH-U310 (Verizon Wireless) review:

Samsung Knack SCH-U310 (Verizon Wireless)

Inside the phone is the large (2.25-inch), eye-catching display. Though it supports 65,000 colors (220x176 pixels), you'd hardly know it. Colors were vivid, graphics were sharp, and the entire screen is very bright. Fortunately, you can adjust the backlighting time and font size. But the best thing about the display is that--at least for the Knack--Verizon has ditched its confusing and much-maligned standardized-menu interface. Navigation was a breeze, as all options are arranged in a simple format. The arrangement should be particularly simple for anyone new to cell phones. We also like the SCH-U310's nifty "Phone Info" menu, which puts a host of useful information at your fingerprints, including your phone number, the battery life percentage, the numbers of voice mails and messages, the volume setting, and an explanation of the onscreen icons. Again, it's all very straightforward and simple for a first time cell phone user.

The spacious navigation array is well-designed, too. We also like how the silver keys compare with the black toggle. The array consists of two soft keys, a dedicated "911" key, a speakerphone button, Talk and End/power controls, a clear key, and a user-programmable "ICE" (in case of emergency button). The large, tactile keys should limit misdials, even for clumsy fingers. Indeed, we had no issues during our test period. The Knack's toggle is spacious, as well, though it could be just a bit more tactile. On the downside, however, the central OK button is almost too small. The SCH-U310's keypad buttons have large numbers with a bright backlighting. Given their large size and tactile definition we had no problems dialing, testing quickly, or dialing by feel.

The Knack has a 500-contact phone book with room in each entry for four phone numbers. There's no space for extraneous information like e-mail addresses or job titles, but that's perfectly fine on a basic phone like this. You can't set caller groups, which is a bit of a disappointment, but you can pair individual contacts with one of 23, 32-chord polyphonic ringtones.

Other features on the SCH-U310 include a vibrate mode, text messaging, a calendar, an alarm clock, a calculator, a world clock, a stopwatch, a tip calculator, a unit and currency converter, and a speakerphone. There's no Bluetooth but the Knack offers speaker-independent voice dialing.

You can personalize the Knack with a variety of banners, wallpapers, and alert tones. There's no Web browser, so you can't download additional options. Though we understand the omission of the browser, it would be nice to have it just the same. The SCH-U310 doesn't come with any games.

We tested the dualband (CDMA 800/1900) Samsung Knack SCH-U310 in San Francisco using Verizon Wireless service. Call quality was very good by all accounts. The signal was clear and free of static, the volume was loud and voices sounded sharp and natural. Indeed, we had no complaints, and callers had only positive things to say. They could hear and understand us nearly all of the time and a few couldn't even tell we were using a cell phone. It was only when we were talking in a store with a loud PA system that callers had trouble with the connection. Automated-calling systems had trouble understanding us under the same conditions. The Knack is compatible with M4/T4 hearing aids.

Speakerphone calls were almost as satisfactory. The volume on our end was very loud, even though the speaker faces the rear of the phone. Voices sounded a bit tinny, but that's not unusual. On their end, callers reported few problems, as long as we were using the speakerphone in a quiet room.

The Knack has a rated battery life of 4.5 hours talk time and 14 days standby time. It has a tested talk time of 4 hours and 37 minutes. According to FCC radiation tests, the SCH-U310 has a digital SAR of 1.14 watts per kilogram.

What you'll pay

    Visit manufacturer site for details.

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