CNET First Look
Samsung SGH-A657The Samsung SGH-A657 has a rugged design with a respectable feature set. Call quality is great, but streaming video quality is unimpressive.
[ Music ] >> Kent German: Hi. I'm Kent German, Senior Editor here at CNET.com. Today, we're going to take a first look at the Samsung SGHA657. This is a new phone for AT&T service. There are not a lot of rugged phones around, and most of the time, they go for Nextel/Sprint either the Motorola or Sanyo phones, but AT&T is beginning to get a few rugged phones. We saw the Samsung Rugby last year, and before that there was the Motorola V365, but the A657 is the newest rugged phone. It does have quite a sturdy design. It's covered with rubber material here on the sides. It's ribbed so you can grip it a little easier. The shell is plastic, but it's covered in a very thin rubber material. So definitely feels weighty in the hand. Feels very solid, very sturdy. It's not water proof so you can't dunk it, but it definitely takes water splashed on it. It is certified to military specifications for dust, shock, vibration, moisture, all of the things that you'd find for a normal Nextel phone. Controls on the side. You do have a bright orange push-to-talk button. The phone is, does support AT&T's push-to-talk service. You also have a volume rocker here. Here on this, here on this side, there's a button for the flashlight. You also have a button for an on-screen, a shortcut menu, which is kind of cool. You can, you can press that, and then you can cycle through different functions without opening the main menu. The navigation toggle is tactile. There's an OK button in the middle. One thing I didn't like is that pressing that OK button in standby mode will open the web browser instead of going to the main menu. You have to use one of the soft keys to open the main menu. I really like it when this opens the main menu, and then you can use another shortcut for the web browser. The back of the phone, the battery cover does use a locking mechanism so you can see that here. You're going to have to twist that open to get the battery out. The micro SD slot is located behind the battery. Normally, we criticize that because it just makes it pretty inaccessible, but when you have a rugged phone like this, it's suppose to keep moisture out and any dirt. We understand when they shove it way back there, so in this case, we're going to let it go. The phone doesn't have a camera, but it is 3G so you can see cellular video, which is AT&T's streaming video. You also can get AT&T music as well. It also has Bluetooth and organizer options. Push-to-talk, as I said, GPS. So, it is a business phone in a lot of senses. It doesn't have your work e-mail. You can only get personal e-mail through a web-based application, but overall, it does have a lot of functions that people who work outdoors maybe people who are on the road a lot might find useful. The phone is only able through AT&T's business channel at the moment. It's about $129 with service, but it's not available to the general public just now, but you can get it if you have a business account. The only other thing unusual is a looped antenna at the top of the phone. You could clip it onto your belt if possible if you have some sort of a clip, but overall, a very sturdy phone. We dropped it a few times and didn't have any problem, and we splashed a little water on it as well. I'm Kent German, and this is the Samsung SGHA657. [ Music ]