Samsung SPH-N review: Samsung SPH-N

The Good Sturdy design; decent battery life; small charger; analog roaming; GPS ready.

The Bad No 3G network support.

The Bottom Line Aside from being GPS ready, this all-around solid phone offers nothing particularly fancy.

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6.6 Overall
  • Design 7
  • Features 7
  • Performance 6

The SPH-N300, with its familiar keypad flip-cover design, is reminiscent of Sprint PCS's early Touchpoint phones. While this one may not be as sleek as Samsung's other new models, it's the first GPS-ready unit, boasts an elegant design, and offers decent battery life and performance for a reasonable price. At 4.1 ounces, the N300 (4.5 by 1.9 by 0.9 inches) isn't as small as the SCH-6100, which sports a similar design. But those who prefer a phone that falls somewhere between compact and full bodied will appreciate the look and feel of this model. We particularly liked the N300's blue finish and the silver trim around the screen, as well as its rubberized and well-spaced buttons. All in all, this is a comfortable phone to talk on and to use.

Once you flip open the keypad cover, you'll discover the same, easy-to-navigate menu system found on many Samsung models, including the 6100 and the SPH-N200. The ample-sized screen displays up to five lines of text in wireless Web mode, and it's easy enough to read, though we prefer the display on Samsung's more expensive SCH-T300. Other nice touches include a volume/ringer control on the side of the phone and a sturdy retractable antenna. As noted, the N300 offers fairly standard features, including a 199-name phone book, 23 ring tones, a vibrate mode, voice-activated dialing for up to 10 names, wireless Web access, a built-in calculator, a calendar, an alarm clock, and two games. The phone's also data ready, allowing you to send and receive faxes and to use it as a wireless modem with the purchase of Sprint's optional Wireless Web Connection Kit.

But back to that GPS-ready feature--what does that mean exactly? When Sprint PCS offers location-based services, you'll be able to use your phone to get directions, find restaurants in your immediate vicinity, and so on. Also, when 911 services become available, operators will be able to locate your phone (within a given area) during an emergency. Expect some of these services to be up and running by year's end. Samsung says you'll get up to 225 minutes of continuous talk time and eight days of standby time from the included lithium-ion battery, which is pretty respectable. Though we fell short of the standby rating by a couple of days, we hit the talk-time mark. We also liked that Samsung included a compact charger, which will appeal to frequent travelers.

In terms of performance, the N300 (CDMA 800/1900, AMPS 800) did well, though not exceptionally. We tested the phone on Sprint's networks in New York and San Francisco, and callers said we generally sounded clear and loud enough. They also mentioned that call quality improved significantly when we had our mouth close to the mike.

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