Samsung SPH-M520 Review
One of the short comings of the UI is customization, but to be fair there is not much we would change about it. We would cut down the top level from 12 to 9, and would love to be able to rearrange it, but these are relatively minor issues. The menu corresponds to the keypad, so any folder is just two clicks away.
Inexplicably the My Content folder is not numbered, but the rest of the submenus are. The left soft key is also hardcoded to Favorites, which gives the user two-click access to 12 user-definable shortcuts such as applications, submenus or contacts. The right soft key is hardcoded to Contacts, but the four d-pad directions are also assignable shortcuts.
Contacts and PIM:
The contact list can store up to 500 entries, and each contact can have 5 numbers and 1 email address and 1 URL. It should be noted that it holds 500 entries, not necessarily 500 contacts, so a contact with two numbers and an email would take up 3 entries. The user can set a personalized ringtone to a contact, and contacts can be assigned to and sorted by groups.
The phone has some PIM functionalities, but they are very basic. The user can schedule events, tasks and countdowns using the calendar. Recurring events are available, and the user can customize the reminder and link events to contacts, but there is no software to synchronize it to a PC so for most users the PIM will see very little use. You’ll also find standards such as an alarm, calculator, world clock, voice memos, and a memo pad.
The phone supports over the air firmware downloads, a Sprint standard for years, but for the first time the user gets an option to check for PRL updates as well. It is much better than Sprint’s previous system of calling into Customer Service to have your account flagged for one, and then calling back to trigger it. We actually like it more than the codes other carriers use, which inevitably the average customer forgets.
The M520 can run Java applications, and runs all your favorites such as Sprint Navigation and Sprint Mobile Email. Like the UpStage, Muziq and Katana DLX the M520 has the ability to multi-task, running several Java applications. The user can send an application to the background and continue to use the phone as normal, for instance they can load up the music player and listen to music while sending a text message or browsing the web. Unlike previous Samsungs, the user has access to the full phone menu when an application is running in the background.
It comes loaded with a wonderful Live Search application made especially for Sprint. Similar to the Windows Mobile/BlackBerry Live Search, the application allows for voice based search. Furthermore, it quickly accesses your GPS location so as to provide accurate local results. The user can also type in their search terms, or change cities, so the application is flexible. A list of results is displayed, and once one is selected the user has the option to call, map, get directions to or share the result (via text message.) It does not give you moving maps, or voice guided direction, but for a free application we were pleasantly surprised with its robustness. In our use it worked very, very well and we think Sprint should be advertising the crap out of this.
The M520 has the full gauntlet of Sprint software, including SprintTV, Sprint Music Store, On Demand and Sprint Radio. It is the first Samsung to run the new SprintTV interface, which we have also seen on the RAZR2 V9m and Muziq, but in general these applications work exactly as we have seen them on previous devices. It is a very comprehensive multimedia set, and as always our only criticism of it is the Music Store interface. It has good codec support, with the ability to play MP3, AAC, AAC+, and 3GPP files.
The 1.3 megapixel camera performed admirable. Color representation was generally good and pictures were crisp, if not a little dark. Still, we would have preferred to see a 2 megapixel camera, even for a mid-level phone. There are a few options the user can adjust, such as White Balance, Brightness and Resolution, and there is a Night Shot mode, which really didn’t do much. The camcorder can record 30s clips for Video Mail, or longer clips limited only by storage space.
The WAP 2.0 browser is powered by Obigo and serves as a good portal to quick news, weather and sports information, as well as downloads. It can handle HTML pages, but as always not very well and we would recommend downloading Opera Mini for that.
1. Thomas (unregistered)
This thing feels incredible in your hands. The first time I pulled this out for a customer, I was shocked by how high-tech and expensive it felt, especially for a $50 phone after rebates. The software is similar to any other Samsung Sprint phone, which I like. I think this thing is going to be nearly as big as the Rumor.
2. christian37804 (unregistered)
so like...how do you download opera mini?