Samsung has its share of whiz-bang devices, but like a good centrist voter, the company's U.S. devices usually fall squarely in the middle. The Samsung SGH-A237 for AT&T's is one such device. Though it offers a couple of extra features such as a VGA camera and Bluetooth, the SGH-A237 is designed mainly for communication. Its design is attractive and easy to use, but it's also a phone that you'd forget just moments after seeing it. While that reality would be fine by itself, the SGH-A237's performance didn't cut it. At $199, it's expensive if you pay full price, but you can get it for as low as $19.99 if you buy it online. To find accessories for this phone, see our cell phone ringtones and accessories guide.
The Samsung SGH-A237 has a basic flip-phone design, but it manages to retain just a bit of signature style with curved ends and a very slight hourglass shape. It won't stand out on the street but it is better looking than many handsets of this caliber. It's also compact (3.74 inches by 1.89 inches by 0.63 inch), but its 2.9 ounces gives it a bit solid feel for its size. The hinge is sturdy and we wouldn't worry about a few drops to the floor. The handset comes in red, black, and blue colors. We examined the red model but the features are the same on all versions.
The external display is about the size of a postage stamp and is monochrome. Normally, we'd complain about the lack of a color display, but it's perfectly fine on a simple handset like the SGH-A237. The screen shows the date, time, signal strength, battery life, and numeric caller ID, but it won't work as a viewfinder for the camera or show photo caller ID because of its low resolution. The camera lens sits just above the external screen and the volume rocker rests on the left side. The right spine holds a combined headset jack and charger port. Unfortunately, that means you can use only one enhancement at a time.
The interior display is just what we'd expect from a basic camera phone. It measures 1.8 inches and supports 65,000 colors (160x120 pixels). Text is readable and the menus are clear and easy to use. Graphics and photos, however, aren't very sharp. You can change the backlight time, the brightness, and the dialing font size and color.
The SGH-A237's navigation array consist of a four-way toggle with a central OK button, two soft keys, Talk and End/power keys, and back/clear control. The array is relatively spacious but the toggle and OK button are just a bit cramped. As for shortcuts, you can program the toggle to give one-touch access to four user-defined functions, and you can program a secondary shortcut menu.
The numbers on the keypad buttons are rather large and the backlighting is bright. Though the keys are mostly flat with the surface of the phone, they have a nice tactile feel. We could dial and text quickly, and dialing by feel wasn't a problem.
The SGH-A237 has a 500-contact phone book with space in each entry for five phone numbers, an e-mail address, and notes (the SIM card holds an additional 250 contacts). You can save contacts to groups and pair them with one of 10 polyphonic ringtones. There's a "reject list" where you can store numbers of unwanted callers. Other essentials include a vibrate mode, an alarm clock, a calendar, a speakerphone, a calculator, a currency and unit converter, a timer, a stopwatch, a world clock, and a tip calculator. You'll also find an audio recorder (you can save clips as ringtones), instant messaging, Bluetooth, an airplane mode, and browser-based POP3 e-mail.