There will always be a market for a cell phone that just makes calls, but sometimes you can make a phone that's too basic. Take the UTStarcom CDM-105 (CDM-7000): Although this Sprint cell phone performs its primary function well, it suffers from some design flaws that impede its usability. Among them are slippery keys, no external display, and a small and washed-out internal screen. The phone is expensive if you pay full price ($149), but Sprint is offering it for free with service.
The UTStarcom CDM-105 has a classic flip phone shape with a stubby external antenna and rounded edges. It's also relatively compact at 3.3 by 1.9 by 0.9 inches and 2.8 ounces. That said, the overall design is rather boring, particularly the gray and silver color scheme. What's worse, there's no external display, so you have to open the phone to see who's calling--certainly not the definition of user-friendly. Cell phones that lack external screens are increasingly becoming a mystery to us, as even the most basic, monochrome models are well worth the few dollars they might add to a handset's cost. The only visual warning you get for an incoming call is a small LED light that blinks blue. On the plus side, the CDM-105 has a solid construction and feels comfortable in the hand. Just be careful of the extendable antenna, as it's rather flimsy.
When opening the UTStarcom CDM-105, you'll see that disappointments persist. At just 1.4 inches diagonally, the internal display is much too small for the phone's size. Plus, it supports a measly 4,096 colors, resulting in a dingy, washed-out appearance. You can change the backlighting and the contrast, but you can't alter the already small font size. Although the display is adequate for viewing the simple but animated menus, game playing isn't worth the effort.
Below the UTStarcom CDM-105's display, you'll find the decently sized navigation keys. Surrounding a five-way toggle are two soft keys, a Back button, and the Talk and End/power keys. The toggle provides shortcuts to the phone book, the messaging menu, voice dialing, and one user-defined application. The keys are tactile, but they are somewhat slick. The keypad buttons share a similar design. They're large enough and brightly backlit but also somewhat slippery. Also, since they're flat with the surface of the phone, it's difficult to dial by feel. Features on the outside of the phone are limited to a volume rocker on the left spine and a headset jack on the top of the mobile.