Samsung SCH-a890 -Our Review
Like the car you drive, the cell phone you tote reveals a lot about you. If you were to carry Samsung’s SCH-a890, it would say that you’re not the flashiest person in a crowd, but you can be dependable, stylish, and possibly exciting when the moment calls for it. Kind of like the feeling you get driving a Volvo.
The silver and black coloring and straightforward keypad give the Samsung a890 an air of sophistication. But it’s the phone’s subtlest design feature, the rotating camera lens, that commands attention. The 1.3-megapixel camera is set in a swivel hinge, letting you shoot scenes or self-portraits with a flick of a thumb, without having to flip the phone around. But Samsung doesn’t go far enough with it: You can’t use the a890’s external display in conjunction with the rotating lens to record video or snap pics on the sly.
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And the camera is not the best we’ve seen out of the latest 1.3-megapixel crop — but it’s not the worst, either. At the highest setting, pictures come out much better than typical VGA cameras, but they still don’t offer a tremendous amount of detail. Samsung includes many of the camera features you expect to see in VGA camera phones, such as digital zoom, brightness, self timer, rotate and flip functions, and color tones, but not much more. Like other camera phones, you can also record up to 15 seconds of video. But there’s no card or cable for image transfers; to get pictures and videos off the a890 you’ll need to send them to an e-mail address.
The phone has features such as a world clock, calendar, vCards, and advanced voice recognition — but the pièce de résistance is access to Verizon’s EV-DO 3G data service. Though it’s available only in select markets such as Los Angeles, Las Vegas, and New York, it really knocks the teeth out of poky, beat-down 1xRTT. High-octane fuel for your phone, EV-DO delivers DSL-like wireless web surfing speeds. You can upload pics and videos and send them to an e-mail address at blistering speeds, as well as check e-mail, download apps or games, and even watch streaming music videos, sports clips, and celebrity interviews on Verizon’s V-Cast service.
And you’ll positively drool at how well the a890 handles the basics. Call quality is clear and loud. Battery life will really leave an impact: The phone logged more than five hours of talk time before punching out for the night. And if you crave a mobile with large, legible onscreen text and numbers, the Samsung will not disappoint.
There’s a lot to like about this fairly compact phone: stellar battery life, decent call quality, high-speed surfing, swivel lens, and an easy-to-use interface. But the camera quality and overall design are simply missing something (maybe a pinch of salt?). That said, if you’re in the market for a decent phone that won’t let you down, the Samsung could be a good match. –Joni Blecher
Best Feature: Slick swivel barrel lens
Worst Feature: The external display doesn’t double as a viewfinder
Price: $250 with two-year contract
Weight: 2.8 ounces
Size: 3.5 x 2 x 1 inches
Specs: 800/1900MHz CDMA; 1xRTT and EV-DO; 220 x 176-pixel, 2-inch color TFT display; 128 x 96-pixel, 1-inch external color TFT display; 1.3-megapixel camera with video recorder and flash