Samsung SCH-U340 (Verizon Wireless)
At the same time it introduced the EV-DO=" samsung_sch_u540_silver="" 4505-6454_7-32432735.html"="">Samsung SCH-U540, Verizon Wireless also gave us a lower-end alternative with the Samsung SCH-U340. Equipped with a VGA camera, a speakerphone, and basic messaging features, the SCH-U340 lacks fancier offerings like a music player, Bluetooth, and even a wireless Web browser. Except for the speakerphone, call quality was decent and the design is easy to use, but also a bit dull. If you're looking for a handset for making calls but still want to have some camera phone fun, the SCH-U340 isn't a bad buy. You can get it for only $19 with service or even for free if you purchase it online.
Like the SCH-U540, the SCH-U340 has a fairly generic design that borrows elements from other Samsung phones. While we dinged the SCH-U540's design for being dull--we expect a lot from 3G phones--we were more forgiving here since the SCH-U340 is only a VGA camera phone. The handset looks a lot like Sprint's Samsung M500. They have the same simple flip phone design with a monochrome external display, an internal antenna, and a camera lens at the top of the front flap. The phone is compact (3.5 inches by 1.8 inches by 0.8 inch) and lightweight (2.8 ounces), and it has a comfortable feel in the hand. We like the blue color scheme, and the front flap opens and closes with authority.
The postage stamp (96x96 pixels) external display shows the date, time, battery life, signal strength, and caller ID. The screen is monochrome so it doesn't support photo caller ID but it does act as a rudimentary viewfinder for the camera. Speaking of which, the lens sits just above the display sans a flash while the battery charger port sits on the phone's bottom end. The left spine holds a volume rocker and a covered headset jack and the left spine has a camera shutter and a speakerphone control.
The SCH-U340's internal display measures two inches (128x160 pixels) and supports 65,000 colors. The display is decent overall but you definitely notice the change frpm a 262,000-color screen. Color resolution is fine but graphics looked a bit grainy. On the other hand, we like that the SCH-U340 uses a basic Samsung menu interface (available in two styles), rather than Verizon's clunky design. You can change the backlight time, the contrast, and the font style and color.
The navigation array has a standard Samsung design with a square toggle, a central OK button, two soft keys, a clear button, and the Talk and End/power buttons. The controls are easy to understand and are a decent size for the phone's size. You can set the toggle to act as a shortcut to four user-defined functions. The keypad buttons are raised slightly above the surface of the phone and have large backlit numbers. We also like that there's some separation between the individual buttons.
The SCH-U340 has a 500-contact phone book with room in each entry for five phone numbers and two e-mail addresses. You can save callers to a group and pair them with one of nine, 32-chord polyphonic ringtones. Other features consist of a vibrate mode, text and multimedia messaging, voice command and dialing, a calculator, a calendar, an alarm clock, a world clock, a notepad, and instant messaging.
The VGA camera takes pictures in three resolutions (640x480, 320x240, and 160x120), and you can choose from three quality settings (fine, normal, and economy). Other features include a self-timer, a 4x zoom, five color tones, brightness and white-balance settings, and four shutter sounds plus a silent option. When finished with your shots, you can save them to the phone's memory, upload them to an online album, or send them in a multimedia message. Picture quality was average for a VGA camera. Colors weren't terribly sharp and images tended to be blurry. Amateur directors are out of luck, however, as the SCH-U340 does not support video recording.
You can personalize the SCH-U340 with a variety of wallpaper, clock formats, and alert tones. Alternatively, you can write a customized banner. If you're bored with what comes on the phone, that's too bad as the handset doesn't support a WAP browser. That also means you can't download any games either.
We tested the dualband, dualmode (CDMA 800/1900; AMPS 800) SCH-U340 in San Francisco using Verizon Wireless service. Call quality was decent but not spectacular. We could hear people plainly and voices sounded natural, though there was a slight buzzing sound from time to time. Callers didn't report many problems except that they had trouble hearing us in noisy environments. The speakerphone quality was about average; the volume output on our end was a bit weak, and we had to speak close to the phone in order to be heard.
The Samsung SCH-U340 has a rated battery life of 3.5 hours talk time and 9.2 days standby time. Our tests revealed a talk time of 4 hours, 10 minutes. According to FCC radiation tests, the SCH-U340 has a digital SAR rating of 1.39 watts per kilogram.