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When looking at the A990 for the first time you might not think “high-end”, but the looks are deceiving.  The A990 is a flip phone that fits well in the hand or pocket thanks to its slim design and internal antenna, which cuts down on the overall height. It measures 3.80” H x 1.88” W x 0.82”W and weighs 4.40 oz (including the standard battery).  The shell of the phone is comprised of black matte plastic with silver accents.  This gives the phone an “Executive and Professional” look; unlike the A950 and its “toy” look.

The front of the A990 is very simplistic and unobtrusive.  The Bi-Level External Display is located in the center.  The top part of the display is Blue TFT, which shows the current time, signal strength (1x/EVDO, or Digital), Bluetooth indicator, and battery level.  The bottom section is 128x96 Pixel 65K Color TFT.  This is where the wallpaper will be shown along with the current date and any alerts (TXT, Pix, or VoiceMail).  But there are a few downsides to the external display of the A990.  The backlight only stays on for 5 seconds and the TFT stays on for 10 seconds.  This means that after 10 seconds you must press one of the side buttons for the display to turn back on.  For example, if the phone receives a message and you are not in the same room, then come back after a few minutes, there is no way to tell that you have received a message just by looking at the phone.  You must press a side button to turn on the external display or flip the phone open.  We feel this is a poor design.  When you receive a message, the external display should not turn off until you open the phone and read the message.

When a wallpaper is set on the external display, the image appears to be much darker than when viewing it on the internal display or computer monitor.  The only way to correct this problem is to first use your computer to brighten the image before transferring it to the phone.  This is a minor inconvenience, but still something that should have been addressed before the phone was released.

The Music Player control buttons (Rew, Play, FF), Speaker, TV-Out connector, and MicroSD slot are all located on the left side of the A990.  The right side comprises the second speaker, Camera “Option/Function” button, Wide Angle/Telephoto Zoom buttons (which also doubles for the Volume Up/Down), Speakerphone button, and Camera Shutter button. The 3.2 Mega-Pixel CCD Camera, with Flash, is located on the back.  There is also a built-in lens cover that must be opened and closed by pushing a small switch with your finger.  Below the camera is where the battery and battery cover are installed.  Located on the bottom of the phone is the combination Charger & Data Port.  The TV-Out, MicroSD, and Charger Port are all covered by a protective piece of plastic.  The plastic port-plugs are connected/attached to the phone, which will prevent them from being lost.

The A990 flips open very easily and feels quite solid.  Once the phone is powered on, the first thing we noticed was the quality of the Internal Display.  This is due to the 240 x 320 resolution (76,800 total pixels) and 262K colors display.  Most other phones only have a 176 x 220 Pixel display (38,720 total pixels), which causes text and images to have jagged edges.  This is not the case with the A990. 

The keypad is located below the display.  The buttons are a good-sized and easy to press with thumb.  They are made of black plastic and the numbers and letters are white.  The backlight of the buttons is also white, except the SEND having green backlight and END having red backlight.  Most other phones feature bright blue backlight on the keypad.  The white backlight on the A990 keypad is a nice change, but might be too dim for some people's taste.  The numbers and letters on the keys are large and easy to read.  This is useful when text-messaging.

Located at the top of the keypad are the 5-way navigation keys.  This provides one-touch access to Mobile Web 2.0, Get it Now, Pix & Flix, and Calendar.  Located in the center of the navigation buttons is the OK button, which provides access to the Main Menu.  Directly below the 5-way navigation is the Clear button.  To the left is the Message, Camera, and Send buttons.  To the right is the Contacts, VoiceCommand, and End buttons.  The only button that we felt was too small and difficult to use was the OK button.  We often ended up pressing one of the surrounding buttons by accident and had to clear out of the menu.  Since the OK button is used often, Samsung should have made it larger and not so slippery. 

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