Samsung SGH-V review: Samsung SGH-V

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The Good Built-in camera; works on GPRS networks; IR port; world phone; 65,000-color display.

The Bad Picture options could be better; can't save photos for caller ID.

The Bottom Line Samsung's SGH-V206 has an arguably sleeker design than other camera-phone hybrids but falls short on implementation.

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7.6 Overall
  • Design 8
  • Features 8
  • Performance 7

Review summary

Editors' note:
If you live in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Boston, Philadelphia, Washington, DC, or Chicago and use this phone with AT&T Wireless service, the company invites you to trade in your phone for one of these four newer models: the Sony Ericsson T226, the Nokia 3100, the Nokia 3200, or the Siemens C56. This does not mean that your existing phone will stop working or even have a decrease in service. The four models offered work on AT&T's expanded GSM 850 frequency in those locales, which means a wider coverage area for you.

With a built-in, swiveling camera lens and sleek, silver style, Samsung's V206 is a real head-turner. However, this mobile isn't all looks and no brains; it has its share of high-end features, including world-roaming capabilities and an IR port. Plus, it works on AT&T's GPRS networks. We just wish the company included a better way to share images. As it stands, the V206 faces tough competition from Sanyo and LG.

At first glance, the V206 looks conspicuously similar to its sibling, the S105. Only the square-shaped external LCD and the Samsung designer label on the top of the phone set it apart. But take a closer look, and you'll notice that the V206 weighs less (3.0 ounces) and is slightly longer (4.3 by 1.8 by 0.9 inches) than its T-Mobile brethren. The extra length is attributable to the built-in rotating camera lens tucked into the hinge of the phone.

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Samsung's version is smaller than other camera/phone hybrids
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Light it up: The translucent strip can illuminate various calls based on the phone's function.

Unlike the Sanyo SCP-5300, this model doesn't have an onboard flash. Additionally, you can't utilize the external LCD as a viewfinder or to display pictures of incoming callers. However, the external screen shows all the basic information: time, date, caller ID (when available), network, and battery strength. And as with all camera phones, the internal 65,000-color, eight-line display doubles as a viewfinder. As for the camera, since you can rotate the lens, you can always turn it on yourself and use it as a mirror. To take pictures, hit the button with a camera icon; this launches the camera application and serves as a shutter-release control. It's worth noting that you must have the phone flipped open before you can take a picture.

On the side of the phone, you'll find a headset jack, an IR port, and two volume-control buttons, which can be used to scroll through the V206's menus. When the phone is closed, there's a translucent strip that can be set to light up various colors--or not at all. Once you flip open the phone, you'll appreciate that you can choose between a list or an icon-driven menu interface. The keypad is similar to the one found on other Samsung models such as the S105 and the A460, which we prefer since it keeps misdials to a minimum. Above the keypad is a four-way rocker key for maneuvering through the V206's menus, as well as a button in the middle that launches Mmode services. While it's convenient, we kept mistaking it for an OK/Enter button.

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Candid camera: Take pictures on the sly.

The V206 has all the features you'd expect, including caller ID, conference calling, voicemail, text messaging, an alarm, a 500-name internal phone book (you can store more names and numbers on the SIM card), a calendar, a calculator, a to-do list, a currency converter, and wireless Web access, as well as Spanish, English, and French menus. There are three games, 25 polyphonic ring tones, a vibrate mode, and a couple of wallpaper options onboard. If you opt for Mmode services, you can download additional ring tones, pictures, wallpaper, and games, as well as send e-mail and chat with friends via AIM.

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