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First Look: Samsung Propel SGH-a767

updated 12:40 am EST, Fri November 21, 2008

Samsung Propel SGH-a767

Practically everyone has a mobile phones these days. While some people prefer the top of the line, latest gadget, others prefer less expensive, simpler phones. If you fall into this latter category, then you might be interested in the Samsung Propel SGH-a767.

Unlike the latest phones that offer stylish designs and touch screens, this Samsung offering is more squat and chunky. Despite its stout and boxy dimensions (2.33 inches wide, 3.85 inches high, and 0.58 inches deep), this phone fits comfortably in your hand. Its wide girth is actually a slight advantage since it makes the phone easier to hold.

To talk on this phone, you'll need to slide its screen up. This exposes its keypad underneath while lengthening the phone height, which places the speaker and microphone more comfortably near your ear and mouth. Unlike some phones where the keypad appears horizontally, allowing you to hold the phone in two hands and type with both thumbs, this vertical keypad is better suited for typing with a single thumb while holding the phone in one hand. The keys are comfortable to press and provide enough tactile response so you'll know when you pressed a particular key.

Like most mobile phones, this one allows you to read and retrieve e-mail from an account such as Yahoo! Rather than rely on making phone calls, sending e-mail or write text messages, this phone gives you the additional option of using instant messaging.

Just type in your account settings from Windows Live, AIM, or Yahoo! and you can chat with your buddies who may be stuck at home or in an office using a computer. Besides typing text, you can also attach audio, video, or picture files to send to your instant messaging buddies as well.

As a mobile communication device, this phone gives you a wide variety of convenient options for contacting your friends, family members, or co-workers. As an mobile Internet device, this phone provides adequate, but primitive results since its speed depends on the limitations of the cellular phone network.

Searching for businesses through its Yellow Pages feature is passable, but slow. Type in a business (such as a hotel or gas station) and wait a few seconds before a list pops up on the phone's 2.2 inch, 220 by 176 pixel screen. Ask for a map and you'll need to wait some more until a primitive cartoon map appears. Although serviceable, you'll feel like you're using a phone from a previous generation.

Web browsing is this phone's weakest link. The phone's tiny screen, low-resolution, and cellular phone Internet link all conspire to make web browsing a slow and ultimately disappointing experience. You can access any website if you're willing to wait long enough for results.

Similarly, this phone offers access to streaming music, but it will gobble up so much data that you'll need a phone plan that provides unlimited data or else you'll wind up paying huge per-minute charges. For occasional web browsing or Internet access, this phone is fine, but for regular Internet use, you'll probably want something more responsive.

One potentially misleading claim is the phone's AT&T Navigator feature that can give you driving directions. While this feature works fine, it's a 30-day free trial only. After this trial period, the cost is $9.99 a month. Signing up for this trial means you also agree to pay this added monthly fee unless you specifically cancel it, so beware.

The Samsung Propel is definitely not a phone you'll want to whip out to impress your co-workers with its technologically advanced features. However, if you don't rely on regular Internet access and just want standard features (1.3-megapixel camera, five hour battery life, microSD memory card slot) in a durable phone, optimized for one-handed use to make phone calls, send text messages, or send instant messages on the three most popular IM services, you'll find the Samsung Propel a great and inexpensive ($79.99) device.

by MacNN Staff



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