The compact Samsung SGH-N105 tries to be all things to all people. With its emphasis on wireless Web access, voice commands, and organizer functions, the N105 would seem to be an ideal phone for business travelers, while its sleek design and modest price make it just as suitable for the mass market. Both types of users, however, will find a few quirks. If you can find it for less than its list price of $100, it's worth considering, but at any higher cost, it runs into stiff competition from such phones as the Motorola T193 and the Nokia 3390. Similar in size (4.1 by 1.6 by 0.6 inches) and color to the SCH-6100, the N105 is fairly petite and lightweight (3.15 ounces). While it appears delicate, the unit feels sturdy. Another plus: The programmable active-flip cover masks only the keypad, so you can still read the screen to check caller ID info for incoming calls. This compact design, however, has a few drawbacks. Those with big hands will find the keypad a bit cramped, and the five-line screen is somewhat undersized and dim. Though you can spend a lot of time on this phone surfing the wireless Web or playing any of the included 11 games, you'll probably go blind doing so.
Clicking the button with the circled i provides one-touch access to the wireless Web, which includes CNN news and AOL Instant Messenger. Navigation buttons and soft keys simplify the task of wading through menu options. The headset volume buttons are smartly placed on the side of the phone near the top, providing easy access for both right- and left-handers. As for features, the N105 includes a 100-entry phone book (you can also enter up to 300 contacts on the SIM card); 47 ring tones in addition to three customizable melodies; an organizer that includes a to-do list, a scheduler, and a calculator; two-way text messaging; and conference calling. Along with voice dialing, you can set voice commands to access functions such as the calendar or voicemail. If you buy the optional data kit, you can sync your phone with your desktop PIM. We tested this dual-band (GSM 900/1900) phone in the Chicago area using VoiceStream service. (You can also use this phone is some European countries.) The audio quality was excellent on our end but not as consistent for those on the other end of the line. Callers often complained of hearing "that cell phone sound" but also noted moments of clarity. Conversely, we consistently got a strong signal, even in the depths of the Union Station train terminal.
Unfortunately, we weren't as impressed with the N105's battery performance. Though it's rated for up to 120 hours of standby time, we coaxed only 75 hours from the unit. We did come close to the rated talk time of up to 250 minutes, but it took us nearly 3 hours to recharge the battery, twice the 90-minute average that Samsung reports.