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Samsung SGH-A437 review: Samsung SGH-A437

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6.0

Samsung SGH-A437

The Good

The Samsung SGH-A437 is a user-friendly world phone that offers Bluetooth and a quality VGA camera. It also has a very impressive battery life.

The Bad

The Samsung SGH-A437 has flat, slippery controls, a low-resolution display, and average call quality.

The Bottom Line

The Samsung SGH-A437 offers some decent features, but both its controls and its call quality are disappointing.

Samsung rolls out another midrange thin phone with its new Samsung SGH-A437 for AT&T. Samsung aficionados will notice that the SGH-A437 looks quite similar to two other cell phones from the company, including the Samsung SCH-U340 for Verizon Wireless and the Samsung SPH-M500 for Sprint Nextel. All three handsets share a slim profile with a square external display that has a camera lens just above it. Likewise, the SGH-A437's feature set is also standard, which is to say it's not too fancy. Inside you'll find Bluetooth, a speakerphone, and a VGA camera. Yet due to middling sound quality and slippery controls, we wouldn't recommend buying the SGH-A437 at its full price ($249), or with even with the service rebates ($69). For the money, we'd recommend the Nokia 6102 or the Nokia 2610 as better midrange phones.

Design
Just as it did with the Samsung SGH-A727, the Samsung SGH-A437 sports a repurposed design from other Samsung handsets. In this case, we're given a flat, slim flip phone with smooth lines, no external antenna, and minimal style. It's not unattractive phone by any means, but it won't stand out in a crowd on shape alone. On the other hand, it comes in a selection of colors: red, slate (aka black), and gold. We examined the gold model for this review.

The SGH-A437's compact dimensions (3.7x19x0.6 inches; 2.9 ounces) ensure that it slips easily into a bag or a pocket. It also feels reasonably comfortable in the hand, but we couldn't help notice that the plastic casing felt a bit cheap, and the hinge was a tad loose. This is not a phone we'd feel comfortable throwing around.

The postage stamp external display is monochrome, so it doesn't support photo caller ID. However, it shows all the other information you'll need including the date, time, battery life, and signal strength. A volume rocker sits on the left spine while a camera lens and the headset jack/charger port are located on the right spine.

The internal display measures two inches and supports 65,000 colors. The overall resolution was somewhat disappointing, however. Colors weren't very bright, and most graphics, including the menu icons, were fuzzy. On the upside, the menus are easy to use, and you can change the dialing font size and color.

While the SGH-A437's exterior bears a resemblance to that of the SPH-M500 and the SCH-U340, its interior is quite different. Instead of raised navigation and keypad buttons, the SGH-A437 features completely flat controls. We're still not fans of such a design, as too often flush keys like these are slippery and offer too little tactile feedback. Yes, we understand that flat controls make for a thin phone, but we feel there has to be a better way. The SGH-A437's circular toggle is large, but it's difficult to use by feel and we don't like the OK button activates the Web browser when in standby mode rather than opening the main menu. The two soft keys, the Talk and End/power buttons, and Clear controls are also large, but again, we miss the tactile feedback. On the upside, you can set the toggle to act as a shortcut to four user-defined features, and you also get a second pop-up menu for more favorite features. The keypad buttons are flat as well, though the numbers on the keys are rather large and are lit by a bright backlighting.

Features
The SGH-A437 has a 1,000-contact phone book with room in each entry for four numbers, an e-mail address, and notes (the SIM card holds an additional 250 names). You can save callers to groups, assign them any of 10 polyphonic ringtones, or pair them with a photo--just remember that the photo won't show up on the external display. Other options are plentiful and include a vibrate mode, text and multimedia messaging, a voice memo, an alarm lock, a calendar, a stop watch, a calculator, a tip calculator, a timer, and a world clock. Instant messaging and a speakerphone are also on board, and we like that more midrange phones such as the SGH-A437 are offering Bluetooth.


The Samsung SGH-A437's camera lacks a flash.

The VGA camera takes pictures in four resolutions (640x480, 320x240, 160x128, and 128x96), and you can choose from three quality settings (superfine, fine, and normal). Other features include a self-timer, a night mode, exposure metering, a digital zoom, five color tones, and brightness and white-balance settings. There's also a fair number of camera sounds including three shutter tones. When finished with your shots, you can save them to the phone's memory (about 3.5MB), upload them to an online album, or send them in a multimedia message. Picture quality was decent for a VGA camera. Some images tended to be blurry, but colors were mostly bright. The SGH-A437 does not support video recording.


The Samsung SGH-A437 had acceptable picture quality.

You can personalize the SGH-A437 with color themes, wallpaper, and alert sounds. If you want more options, you can download them from AT&T with the WAP 2.0 wireless Web browser. The handset comes with demo versions of three Java (J2ME) games: Tetris, Midnight Pool and Jamdat Bowling 2; you'll have to buy the full versions for extended play. You'll also find an application called My Cast for searching weather reports by ZIP code.

Performance
We tested the quadband Samsung SGH-A437 (GSM 850/900/1800/1900) in San Francisco using AT&T service. Call quality wasn't spectacular, unfortunately. Though voices sounded natural and we had enough volume, there was a fair amount of static on the line. Also, the sound cut in and out a few times. On their end, callers said we sounded fine, but they noticed the static problem, too. Speakerphone calls were somewhat worse. The sound was muffled, and the static problem was exacerbated.

The SGH-A437 has a rated battery life of five hours of talk tiime and 10 days standby time. According to FCC radiation tests, the Samsung SGH-437 has a digital SAR rating of 1.1 watts per kilogram. Our tests revealed an amazing talk time of 8 hours, 26 minutes.

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6.0

Samsung SGH-A437

Score Breakdown

Design 5Features 7Performance 6