Building on its lineup of Ready Link-enabled handsets, such as the Sanyo MM-7400 and the Sanyo RL-4920, Sprint PCS now introduces the RL-A760 by Samsung. Though basic in nature (you won't even find a camera here), the A760 does add a new twist to text messaging: SMS Voice Messaging. Need a translation? It allows you to send and receive instant voice responses to your text in-box. The A760 should meet the needs of business and personal users who don't need all the bells and whistles but want the walkie-talkie functionality. Our one gripe is that we wish it had a longer talk-time battery life. The A760 costs $219, but you should be able to find it cheaper with service. If you're looking for a superflashy cell phone, the Sprint RL-A760 (Samsung SPH-A760) won't fit the bill. That's not to say, however, that it isn't an attractive handset. Clad in silver and midnight blue, the flip phone sports some pleasant curves and a streamlined design. At 3.5 by 1.8 by 1 inches and 3.8 ounces, it's a bit on the bulkier side and fits snugly in a jeans pocket. Still, it has a solid construction and feels comfortable when held up to our ear. A postage stamp-size external LCD resides on the front flap and shows the time, the date, signal strength, battery life, and caller ID (where available). And while it is monochrome, the display is easy to read; we also like that it is still legible even after the backlighting is turned off. A large speaker sits right above the screen, as well as a tiny LED indicator.
Inside the A760, you'll find a vibrant, 1.8-inch screen that displays 65,000 colors. It's easily readable indoors, and itÂ’s adequate for viewing Web pages, but the display becomes a little washed out in direct sunlight. To navigate the user-friendly menu, there is a four-way navigation toggle with a center Menu/OK button. You also can program each directional key on the toggle to launch your contacts, messaging, text in-box, or VoiceSMS in-box. Surrounding the toggle are the Talk, End, and Back buttons and the left and right soft keys that launch your Ready Link numbers and Contacts list, respectively. The layout is well spaced, and since the buttons, as well as the blue-backlit numerical keypad, are slightly raised from the phoneÂ’s surface, it makes dialing by feel easy.
On the A760Â’s left spine are a volume rocker and the Ready Link key, while on the right spine, there is a handy multifunction button. When the phone is open, a single press opens the Recent Calls list, while a press-and-hold opens the useful voice-command menu (see Features). Conversely, when the phone is closed, the button activates the key guard and also activates the speakerphone during a call. There is a 2.5mm universal jack (with an attached cover) for headsets as well as a retractable antenna on the top of the mobile. To power up, thereÂ’s a connector on the bottom of the handset as well as an accessory plug. But take care: unlike the headset jack, the protective cover isn't connected, and we nearly lost it right away.The Sprint RL-A760 comes with a healthy set of basic features and some fun extras. You get a 300-name phone book with room in each entry for six numbers, as well as e-mail and Web addresses and a birthday reminder. You can organize contacts by caller group or assign them to any of 20 polyphonic or 9 monophonic ring tones. And while there's no integrated camera, you can download photos and images to pair with names for caller ID purposes. With Sprint's Ready Link service, you get an additional phone book for 200 of your closest personal and business contacts. Another handy feature allows you to use the voice-command menu to dial numbers, and if a contact has more than one number, you can specify "mobile" or "home," for example, to access that number. You can also say "status" and the phone will tell you the current signal, battery strength, and coverage. Other goodies include a speakerphone, vibrate mode, text and multimedia messaging, a one-minute voice recorder, a calendar, a task list, a memo pad, a world clock, a countdown timer, a calculator, an alarm clock, a WAP 2.0 Web browser, and an embedded GPS chip for emergency location.
As a basic handset, this model doesn't give you any advanced features such as a camera, Bluetooth, or an infrared port for that matter, but it does boast one unique offering. The A760 is the first mobile to offer Sprint's SMS Voice Messaging. Powered by Core Mobility, this functionality builds on text messaging by letting you send and receive instant voice messages without the hassle of going through your voicemail system. You can send these voice messages to another mobile or e-mail address, and you can address it to as many as 10 people. That said, you might be wondering if you need to have the A760 to receive these messages. The answer is no, but it will require an extra step. While A760 owners will automatically be able to listen to the message, others will receive a text message telling them to call an 800 number to retrieve the goods. The cost of SMS Voice Messaging is the same as regular text messaging.
You can personalize the A760 with a variety of wallpaper, screensavers, menu styles, and sounds. If you want to express yourself with other customizations, you can download more options from Sprint's Web site. You also get several demo Java (J2ME)-enabled games: Tetris Deluxe, Ms. Pac-Man, and Solitaire Deluxe. Of course, you can download more to satisfy the gamer in you. The phone has 1MB of download capacity.We tested the trimode Sprint RL-A760 (Samsung SPH-A760; 800/1900 CDMA; 800 AMPS) in San Francisco and Virginia using Sprint service, and call quality was generally clear with adequate volume levels. We did, however, experience static and patchy calls on several occasions, and callers said they could tell we were on a cell phone. Speakerphone quality generally was good.
Talk-time battery life surpassed the promised time, but it still was rather short. We managed 3 hours, 40 minutes of talk time on a single charge, beating the rated talk time of 3 hours. Standby time was just 4.5 days though, far below the promised time of 9 days. According to the FCC, the A760 has a digital SAR rating of 1.35 watts per kilogram and an analog SAR rating of 1.4 watts per kilogram.