As part of its special promotion packages, Sprint PCS regularly offers camera phones for as little as $99. So the obvious question is whether higher-end models such as Samsung's A600 flip phone ($350 list price), with its slick, swiveling screen design, are that much better. Dollar for dollar, they're probably not, but the A600 is certainly a step up from Sprint's entry-level, and it's a solid all-around phone with good call quality and reasonable battery life.
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Samsung's innovative screen rotates a full 180 degrees.
In terms of shape and size, this 4.4-ounce model, which measures 3.5 by 1.9 by 0.94 inches, resembles Samsung's old SPH-A400 flip phone. However, this one is distinguished by a large, sharp, 65,000-color, TFT, swiveling screen and a rotating barrel-camera lens in its hinge, which can also be found on the company's . You can flip the screen around while closing the phone, leaving the display exposed and allowing you to use it more easily as a viewfinder for taking self-portraits and other snapshots. We had no trouble with the swivel mechanism in the two weeks we had the phone, but we can't say how durable it will be after months of use.
We liked the phone's menu interface, the button layout, and the tactile feel of the ample, rubberized keypad. There are two convenient camera quick-launch keys: one on the top of the dial pad above the four-way navigation key, and one on the side of the phone. Both serve as the shutter-release button.
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Flashback: When the phone is closed, it resembles an old Samsung favorite, the SPH-A400.
Those used to having an external LCD for viewing the time and the incoming caller ID info may be disappointed that Samsung has chosen to go with an external multicolored LED instead. The futuristic-looking LED lights up different colors to indicate an incoming call or to alert you that you have voicemail.
Samsung includes a desktop charger--a.k.a. a cradle and an AC adapter--for the phone. This isn't a major drawback, but we would have preferred a travel charger (available as an accessory) so that we could carry one fewer piece of gear with us on the road.