The Good The compact and snazzy Samsung SCH-A950 features speedy EV-DO performance with access to V Cast videos and the Verizon Music Store; a 1.3-megapixel camera; Bluetooth; a speakerphone; a convenient jog dial on the front for music playback; and a TransFlash expansion slot.
The Bad Unfortunately, the Samsung SCH-A950's numeric keys are small and slippery. Also, Bluetooth is restricted to wireless handsets, and you must convert MP3s to WMA format for playback on the phone.
The Bottom Line The Samsung SCH-A950 is an attractive 3G cell phone with decent features, but some annoying restrictions remain.
Samsung SCH-A950 (Verizon Wireless)
Samsung continues to refine its 3G flip phone designs with the sleek, eye-catching SCH-A950 for Verizon Wireless. Complete with a 1.3-megapixel camera, a TransFlash expansion slot, Bluetooth, a speakerphone, and a quartet of music controls below the colorful display, the stylish SCH-A950 just might knock the off its pedestal as our favorite phone--the bigger but flatter Razr V3c notwithstanding. At a reasonable $130 (or $80 with a two-year service plan), the Samsung SCH-A950 ranks as one of the most affordable 3G phones we've seen from a major carrier. That said, we're as annoyed as ever by Verizon's continued policy of limiting Bluetooth access to wireless headsets and forcing MP3s to be converted to WMA format for playback on the phone. With its silver curves and glossy red trim, the Samsung SCH-A950 is certainly a looker. On the sides, it has the same oval-shaped stereo speakers as Sprint's , while the camera lens and 1.1-inch, 65,000-color screen on the outer flap also look familiar. The big change, however, is the addition of a large jog dial just below the external display that's surrounded by buttons for next, skip, play/pause, and stop. Pressing and holding the play button when the phone is closed launches the phone's music player, while the jog dial lets you scroll through playlists, scan forward or backward within a song, and select a track for playing--similar to "scrubbing" on an iPod. Although it was a handy feature overall, the phone's scrollwheel was a bit small for our thumb. At 3.4 by 1.9 by 1.0 inches and 4.6 ounces, the solidly built SCH-A950 is exactly as large and heavy as the , but it fit better in our jeans pocket, thanks to the welcome lack of an external antenna.
Opening the handset reveals the Samsung SCH-A950's vivid, 2-inch, 262,000-color LCD, which looks about as rich and detailed (but also as difficult to read in direct sunlight) as other internal displays in its class. While the screen itself looks sharp and colorful for photos and streaming videos, the handset still uses Verizon's standard tabbed user interface, which is static and staid compared with the vibrant, animated menus on phones from Sprint and Cingular. Also, we continue to be puzzled as to why folders for your music files and photos are buried within the menu for Verizon's Get It Now Internet service. You can change the backlighting time, the brightness, and the contrast but not the font size.
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