In addition to the launch of the multimedia-centric Samsung SPH-M510, Sprint also introduced the Samsung SPH-M300 this week for customers looking for a more basic and budget-friendly camera phone. The stylish and compact flip phone is equipped with a VGA camera and a speakerphone, and it even manages to throw in a couple of nice extras, including voice dialing and integrated Bluetooth--all this for $29.99 with a service agreement. The phone offers good call quality, but it's disappointing as a camera phone. As such, we think you can get a better camera phone and more for your money with the Samsung SPH-M500. However, the M300 is a fine and stylish choice if you just want a cell phone for making calls. The Samsung SPH-M300 is available in red or silver; our review unit came in red.
A cell phone doesn't have to be flashy or superthin to be considered stylish; there's beauty in simplicity and the Samsung SPH-M300 is proof of that fact. Plus, it's got some sass of its own as the entire front flap has a cool mirrored face and you can choose from two color choices: dark silver or misty-rose red. At just 3.6 inches by 1.9 inches by 0.7 inch and 2.6 ounces, the clamshell M300 is compact, light, and functional. And despite the featherweight design, the handset has a solid construction and is comfortable to use as a phone.
The Samsung SPH-M300 features a smallish 2-inch diagonal internal screen with a 128x160 pixel resolution. Colors are bright and we had no problems reading text or numbers on the screen, even under sunlight. We do wish the screen's resolution was slightly higher, as images looked very pixilated. Unlike on the external display, you can change the font size, color, screensaver, and backlighting via the Settings menu.
The Samsung SPH-M300 has a 299-contact phone book with room in each entry for five numbers, an e-mail and Web address, nickname, and memo. For caller ID purposes, you can assign a photo, a group ID, and one of 29 polyphonic ringtones to your contact. Sprint includes a couple of extra utilities on the M300. First, there's a service called Wireless Backup that automatically saves all the information in your contact list so you can transfer it when you get a new phone. Be aware that this is an add-on service and it costs $2.00 per month. Next, a feature called VoiceSMS allows you to record and send a voice message to a contact without ever having to call them. It's a nice option if you know someone is in a meeting and can't get to their phone; each message is charged as a text message.
Other phone features on the M300 include a speakerphone, voice commands and dialing, a scheduler, a memo pad, a task list, a countdown timer, an alarm clock, and a calculator. In addition to text and multimedia messaging, the M300 also offers e-mail and instant messaging support for popular clients, such as AOL, Yahoo, and MSN, via the phone's Web browser.
The Samsung M300 has integrated Bluetooth, which you can use to connect to wireless headsets and hands-free kits. You can even use the phone as a wireless modem for your laptop. However, without the support for Sprint's EV-DO network, you're not going to get broadband-like speeds, so that takes away a lot of the appeal of this functionality.
We tested the dual-mode (CDMA 800/1900) Samsung SPH-M300 in San Francisco using Sprint service and call quality was good. There was very little background interference and plenty of volume as we chatted with our friends or listened to an automated phone recording. Our callers also said audio was good on their end. Unfortunately, speakerphone volume was very weak, even at its highest level, so we had a hard time hearing the conversation. On the upside, we had no problems pairing the M300 with the Logitech Mobile Traveller Bluetooth headset.
The Samsung M300 is rated for up to 3.2 hours of talk time. In our battery tests, we got a talk time of 3 hours and 18 minutes in our tests. According to FCC radiation tests, the M300 has a digital SAR rating of 0.99 watts per kilogram.