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Samsung Gusto review: Samsung Gusto

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The Good The Samsung Gusto has a user-friendly menu interface and useful features like voice commands, a Bing search app, and VZ Navigator. It also has a highly affordable price.

The Bad The Samsung Gusto has a cheap, plasticky feel and mediocre call quality.

The Bottom Line The entry-level Samsung Gusto has some useful features and a great price, but with mediocre call quality and a flimsy construction, it generates little more than mild interest.

5.6 Overall
  • Design 5
  • Features 7
  • Performance 5

As an entry-level metallic-gray-and-black flip phone, the Samsung Gusto is the spitting image of the Samsung Smooth, though its feature set and design slightly differ. Although there are some nice features inside, the phone's build and call quality are pretty unremarkable. The price, however, is very low--free from after an online discount and a new two-year contract, and $19.99 with a new contract after a $50 mail-in rebate, if you pick it up in retail stores.

Though one on hand the gray-and-black Samsung Gusto is a decently attractive flip phone, a closer look shows a glossy body so shiny and plasticky that it winds up looking cheap. Other design elements are limited to just a curve above the external screen, a slope on the back, and some nubbly texture.

The Samsung Gusto is light and small. It's fairly attractive, though the ultrashiny black plastic cheapens the effect.

The Gusto stands 3.8 inches tall, and measures 1.89 inches wide and 0.76 inch deep, so it will slip easily into a pocket or bag. Also, it weighs 3.28 ounces, which makes it light, but not a featherweight. On the front is the lens for the 1.3-megapixel camera and the 1.07-inch external color display that shows the date, time, and battery meter. On the right spine sits the Micro-USB charging port, a 2.5mm headset jack, and dedicated buttons to launch the camera and speakerphone. The left spine hosts the volume rocker. An external speaker is on the back.

Inside, there's a 2-inch display that supports 262,000 colors and a 128x160-pixel resolution. Though the resolution isn't as sharp as we've seen, we do appreciate the menu interface, which highlights menu options as you scroll up and down a vertical list. However, the scrolling is a little laggy. You can adjust backlight on the display and the alphanumeric keypad, along with display themes, and the contrast of the external LCD display. The font is not adjustable.

Below the Gusto's screen is the navigation array with two soft keys, a four-directional navigation pad and a central OK button, a Clear key, and the Talk and End/power controls. The keypad buttons are fairly large and slightly domed. Though the keys are separated, it's possible--but not the easiest--to dial by feel. The voice command shortcut shares space with the "0" button, which is less convenient than if it were to have a dedicated hardware control. The pound (#) button shares functionality with vibrate mode.

Considering the Gusto's rock-bottom price point, we're not surprised to see minimal features onboard. The address book holds 1,000 contacts with room in each entry for five phone numbers, two e-mail addresses, two street addresses, a birthday, an instant messaging handle, and notes. You can also associate a contact with a photo or caller group, and with one of 20 ringtones, plus a beep mode and a silent mode.

Apart from the basic features, there are some built-in Verizon services to round out the toolset.

The Gusto's organizer contains a calculator, a calendar, an alarm clock, a stop watch, a world clock, and a notepad. Text, picture, and voice messaging are joined by instant messaging, chat, and Internet access through a cramped and cluttered WAP browser. AT&T's Mobile E-mail gives you access to AOL and AIM mail, Gmail, Windows Live Hotmail, Yahoo, and other Web mail accounts, though e-mailing is awkward and time-consuming with the alphanumeric keypad. Also, keep in mind that the e-mail app costs $5 to download, plus whatever data usage exceeds your data plan. VZ Navigator with turn-by-turn directions costs $9.99 per month or $2.99 for a limited time period.

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