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Samsung MM-A940 (Sprint) review: Samsung MM-A940 (Sprint)

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The Good Besides great call quality and solid battery life, the Samsung MM-A940 supports a broad range of multimedia features, which include streaming video and audio from Sprint's 3G EV-DO network, a 2-megapixel camera, and an MP3 player. You also get Bluetooth, GPS functionality, and a speakerphone.

The Bad The Samsung MM-A940 is bulky, and its quirky design may be off-putting. It also suffers from disappointing photo quality and a small phone book. Additionally, the music downloads are expensive.

The Bottom Line The well-performing Samsung MM-A940 does a good job of executing its broad range of multimedia features.

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7.6 Overall
  • Design 7
  • Features 8
  • Performance 8

Samsung MM-A940 (SPH-A940)

You wouldn't be too far off base if you confused the Samsung MM-A940 for Sprint with Verizon's Samsung SCH-A970. The cell phones sport nearly identical designs, and they offer comparable feature sets. Despite these similarities, however, the MM-A940 is a solid handset in its own right. Along with the Sanyo MM-9000, the MM-A940 is one of Sprint's first 3G EV-DO mobiles, and it offers a high-end set of multimedia features, including support for streaming video and audio, a 2-megapixel camera, Bluetooth, and an MP3 player. Though these offerings don't always come together as they should--photo quality was especially disappointing--and the design may be too much for some, the Samsung MM-A940 is nonetheless an attractive and powerful cell phone for Sprint customers. You'll pay for the privilege, of course, at $399, but you can find it cheaper with service. As we said earlier, the Samsung MM-A940 and SCH-A940 are nearly identical twins. Both are silver flip phones without external antennas, and they offer several similar features in equally hefty packages. The MM-A940 measures 3.7 by 1.8 by 1.0 inches and weighs 4.9 ounces. Such dimensions mean the phone will slide only into bigger pockets and will add a noticeable bulge to a purse or bag; anyone looking for a compact cell phone should keep shopping. The postage stamp-size exterior display supports 65,000 colors and shows the date, time, battery life, signal strength, and--where available--photo caller ID. Unlike the SCH-A940, the Samsung MM-A940 isn't set in a mirrored frame. Though it goes completely dark when the backlight is off (you can't change backlight time), a quick flip of the volume rocker rebrightens the screen. Below the display are a LED light; handy control buttons for using the MP3 player, though only when the front flap is closed; and stereo speakers.

Hefty handset: The MM-A940's high-end features come at a price.

The Samsung MM-A940, like its sibling, sports a few unique design elements. In particular, the camera lens and flash are located at the hinge on the left side of the phone. Though this arrangement may sound unwise, it makes sense once you flip open the phone. By rotating the display 90 degrees to the right after opening, you can use the main display as a viewfinder with the lens pointing away from you. Alternatively, you can also rotate the display to the left for a self-portrait. In either case, rotating the display automatically activates the camera, and swiveling it back turns the camera function off. Though the overall design is fun and eye-catching, it may be too complicated for some. Also, while the MM-A940 felt solid in our hands, the flip mechanism seemed somewhat loose.

Play it again: The MM-A940 has convenient player controls.

The interior display measures a generous 2 inches diagonally. With support of 260,000 colors, it's rich and vibrant--perfect for scrolling through user-friendly menus and viewing photos and videos. Unlike with the external display, you can change the backlight time and brightness, as well as font color and size. As is the case with most Samsung phones, however, the display is difficult to see in direct light. Below the display are the spacious navigation controls. The five-way toggle doubles as a shortcut to four user-defined functions; you also get two soft keys and a dedicated Back button, as well as Talk and End/power keys. We weren't as impressed by the keypad buttons, however. Though they're large and backlit in white, they're flush with the surface of the phone, so they're difficult to dial by feel.

The camera shutter is located on the right hinge, just opposite the lens. Below it are a multifunction camera control button (see Features), a volume rocker, and a button that opens the voice commands menu and activates the speakerphone during a call. On the left spine are a headset jack and the TransFlash card slot.

Inside the Samsung MM-A940 is a generous feature set that centers on multimedia (see below) but doesn't neglect the basic offerings. The 500-contact phone book holds five phone numbers, an e-mail address, a Web address, and notes for each contact. While that seems like a lot at first, closer inspection reveals that the phone book is limited to 500 entries total, be they phone numbers, e-mail addresses, or otherwise. Though most users are unlikely to hit that amount, we would prefer a more flexible storage limit. You can assign callers to groups or pair them with a photo and one of 9 monophonic or 20 polyphonic (54-chord) ring tones.

Other features on the Samsung MM-A940 include a vibrate mode, text and multimedia messaging, a scheduler, a task list, a countdown timer, a memo pad, instant messaging (Yahoo, AOL and MSN), an alarm clock, and a calculator. Those looking for more high-end features should be satisfied as well. You also get a one-minute voice recorder, POP3 and IMAP4 e-mail support, PC modem capability, voice commands and dialing, PC syncing for contacts and e-mail, and the option of sending voice messages to a friend without having their phone ring. We were glad to see another Sprint phone with Bluetooth after the LG PM-325. Even better, it supports Bluetooth profiles for file transfers. There's a speakerphone, but you can activate it only after you place a call. Still another nice addition is speech-to-text dictation for text messages. Like on the Samsung SGH-P207, it's effective merely two-thirds of the time, but it's a welcome feature nonetheless.

By supporting the carrier's growing 3G EV-DO network, the Samsung MM-A940 brings a new level of functionality to Sprint customers. We first browsed through the streaming video offerings. They're similar to what you'll find on Verizon's V Cast service, but Sprint's Power Vision offers more content choices and slightly higher data speeds (400Kbps to 700Kbps). Available channels include CNNtoGo, ABC News, the Weather Channel, the Cartoon Network, Music Choice, Access Hollywood, Diva for beauty and fashion tips, and Fox Sports. There also are some unexpected choices, such as Swimsuit Model TV, Smash TV featuring extreme sports, and Adult Swim, which is billed as adult programming for the Cartoon Network. You can get full-length movies on Mspot Movie, but we can't imagine why you'd watch a full film on a tiny cell phone screen. Sprint TV offers movie previews and even more programming, including the Discovery Channel, reviews, C-Span, and the Learning Channel. Most channels cost $3.95 or $4.95 each, or you can purchase bulk plans for $15, $20, and $25.

Audiophiles shouldn't feel left out with the Samsung MM-A940; the phone supports streaming Sirius radio. You can get up to 20 channels for $6.95 per month, and if that isn't enough, you can choose from Mspot Radio and Rhapsody Radio. If streaming isn't your thing, you can download songs from Sprint's Music Store. The player interface is easy to understand, but you can store songs on only the TransFlash card, and songs cost a staggering $2.50 each. In other words, it's not worth the expense.

Information addicts will have fun with Sprint's on-demand Internet service. You can get up-to-the-minute news stories, sports scores, and stock market news. And since the phone has GPS capability, you can access movie and TV listings, weather reports, and maps for your current location. Finally, there's an online phone book and dictionary.

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