The quintessential flip phone needs two things: excellent call quality and large, easy-to-press buttons. Happily, Samsung's SPH-M370 for Sprint can check off both boxes. What you see is what you get with the simple, straightforward features and design; and at $19.99 with a new two-year contract, the price is just right.
The M370's clamshell design is immediately familiar, but Samsung does add interesting touches here and there. In this case, it's the rounded-edge design, the nubbly gray finish on the face and back, and a slight curve at the upper portion of the phone that looks like someone pinched the top and pulled it forward.
It has a comfortable grip and dimensions that keep it small and compact, perfect for slipping into a front pocket or a cell phone pocket in a small purse: 3.8 inches tall by 2 inches wide by 0.7 inch thick. At 3.7 ounces, the M370 feels substantial, and the overall design is solid enough to take a beating.
The handset itself shows off its camera lens and 1-inch display on its face. The volume rocker is on the left (push it in to light up the external screen) and the Micro-USB charging port, the camera shutter button, and the 3.5mm headset jack are on the right.
The face flips open in a smooth arc over a large, thick hinge. Inside, a 2.4-inch QVGA screen (320x240-pixel resolution) looks colorful and bright. So long as you know to push the physical Menu button to get to most of the phone's options, it's easy to navigate around. The phone is fairly customizable, with options to pick wallpaper and clocks for both screens, set contrast, and control the brightness and backlights. You also have a say over text entry formats and ringers, and can turn location off and on; however, you won't be able to change the phone's font style or text size. By default, you'll hear typing tones loud and clear. They grated on my ears, so I immediately turned them to silent mode.
Below the screen, the navigation array and dial pad feature large, tactile, rubbery keys that are comfortable and responsive to the touch. They're backlit and separated, and there are a few bumpers for orienting your fingers on the keyboard if you're attempting to type by feel. The navigation array has the usual two soft keys, and the Talk, Back, and End/Power buttons surrounding the central navigation toggle. The toggle itself is quad-directional and has a Menu/OK button in its center. Few keys share tasks; one exception is the "1" key, which also launches voice mail by default.
What you see is mostly what you get with the M730. There's room for 600 contacts in the phone's address book, plus each contact can have various phone numbers, e-mail addresses, IM handle, a birthday, a URL, notes, and a mailing address. You can also add photo ID, form a caller group, and personalize the ringtone. There are 10 preloaded ringtones you can choose from, or you can easily download some from Sprint's online store.
In terms of tools, the M370 is well-stocked with the essentials: an alarm, a calendar, a calculator, a world clock, a memo pad, and a voice memo. It also has Bluetooth support and multimedia text messaging. There's a simple browser that isn't very fast or polished, but it does the job when you need to look something up. Just remember that you'll have to pay for data, which tends to add up.