The Samsung Smooth, (AKA SCH-U350) is a successor to the U340 handset. The slim flip-phone not only feels and looks good, but also has a generous set of features. Equally appealing to parents and teens, the budget-friendly, basic-looking phone features a VGA camera, Bluetooth support, full messaging options, GPS Navigation services, a speakerphone and more.
As part of Verizon Wireless’s prepaid wireless network, the dual-band CDMA / PCS 1X phone was first rolled out by Samsung in March 2009, and brought to prepaid customers by Verizon in August 2009. Costing around $29.99 with a contract and some handy extras like a simple Web browser and Bluetooth, the handset also packs in a Lithium Ion battery, a wall charger, and several Verizon Wireless Brochures in the box.
Although, the Smooth does not offer the best call quality, budget-conscious people, coveting a phone with all the bells and whistles, might be persuaded to overlook this drawback.
So, stay in touch with your social scene via its messaging options, snap some images of your daily life with its VGA camera, transfer them to friends and use your Bluetooth headset. Your life will suddenly be a little smoother.
Design (3 out of 5)
The Smooth comes in quite an underwhelming design, which shouldn’t bother those on the lookout for basic functionality and low pricing. The phone comes in an ever-so-slightly metallic graphite blue faceplate, and has a backside of muted black. Its 1-inch small color screen decks up the outer shell, while a camera lens rests just above that.
The external screen of the Smooth displays your choice of wallpaper, while the features like the date, time, service bars, battery meter are shown by default. Plus, it offers support for photo caller ID info, and works as a self-portrait viewfinder.
When the Smooth is flipped open, a standard alphanumeric keypad is in front of you with large, easy-to-press buttons. The navigation array includes a 5-way toggle with 2 soft keys, a central OK button, a clear/back key and Talk and End/power controls. These alongside the clear-cut onscreen interface make the Smooth quite easy-to-use.
Plus, on the left side, you will find a dedicated volume toggle, while, on the right spine, there are speakerphone buttons and a dedicated camera. At the very same place, you’ll also find a 2.5-mm headset jack and a charging port for the phone.
The internal display of the Smooth also doesn’t look imposing at 1.9 inches, though it does the job. Also, you can fine-tune the dial font, but no option is available to increase the text of menu options. On the plus side, the interface can be fiddled with in many other ways. Last but not least, you can also fully control the backlight for both the keypad and display.
User Interface (4 out of 5)
The display of the Samsung Smooth includes utilities such as Alarm, Calculator and Notepad. The alphanumeric keypad favors the messaging buffs as it sports easy-to-press buttons. The Smooth features a 5-way toggle navigation that comprises of an OK button at the centre, controls for receive and end calls (the end call control also works as power switch), two soft keys as well as a clear key. The directional keys on the phone work fine and lead to easy access to diverse applications. Although very basic with the keypad and no dedicated keys, the Smooth wins the show with its straightforward interface that enables a smooth operation of the phone. Plus, the Smooth lets you customize the screen wallpaper and change the phone theme. You can also choose whether to keep the menu in icon layout or list layout. Further, you can control the backlight of keypad or the display. So, for its user-friendly interface and smooth operation, it is assigned 4 out of 5.
Specs & Features (4 out of 5)
The specs sheet of the Samsung Smooth is a bit surprising. We could not have expected so many features at such a low price tag. To start with, the Samsung Smooth sports speakerphone, voice command support, voice dialling, utilities such as calendar, calculator and more, Bluetooth capabilities, basic Web browser and built-in VGA camera. The camera comes with a self timer and in the night mode, the camera works fine. The camera can be switched on from the button located on the body of the phone. Also, the external display can capture vanity shots. Moreover, the phone allows for multimedia messaging, chat and e-mail apart from the standard text messages. Thus, the Smooth is a good option to be socially connected at a low budget. Other than these, the Smooth sports services such as Mobile Email and Web, VZ Navigator (for finding directions and locating places on maps) and Family Locator.
With the strong support of the network of Verizon Wireless, these services function in a well-to-do manner. The phone bears dimensions of 3.78 x 1.87 x 0.76 inches and weighs 3.5 ounces. Also, you can download ring tones, games and wallpapers directly from the Media Center in a hassle-free manner. So feature wise, the Smooth is rated 4.5 out of 5.
Performance (3 out of 5)
The phone features more, but delivers less. Like in the case of the Web browser, even if you are browsing through websites that have been designed succinctly, you’ll find difficulty in loading the pages. The VGA camera delivers a poor quality image output and lacks in many features which are otherwise considered as essentials of a VGA camera. Besides, the dedicated button for the camera causes unwanted pictures while the cell phone is kept inside your pocket. Similarly, the voice command button can cause trouble to you by its repeated chanting of ‘Please Say a Command’ unless you disable voice prompts. However, the calls made sound thin enough to complain that the phone does not master even its basic purpose.
The battery life is OK as it delivers a talk time of 5 hours and a standby time of 14 days. For performance, the Smooth is rated as 3 on a scale of 5.
On the brighter side, we have the low price tag of the Samsung Smooth along with its handy features and easy operation. The keypad is awesome for messaging for the sole fact that it has large buttons, which can be easily pressed. At least, you don’t have to face typing on the troublesome touchscreen.
On the darker side, we have the poor call handling, not-so-good design, low resolution camera and the absence of a headset. But we cannot complain too much as we are getting good value for money with the Samsung Smooth.
Verdict (4 out of 5)
On the whole, the Samsung Smooth is a perfect fit for those who are the satisfied customers of Verizon services and do not want to compromise on the network reliability for some high-end mobile device. Now, keeping in mind its pros and cons, the Smooth is rated 3.5 on a scale of 5.