Samsung SGH-a657 Review

Introduction and Design

There are some people out there that really put their phone through some beatings. Whether it's from a drop or spilled liquid, very few devices can survive tough accidents. For the longest of times, the Nextel lineup had a large variety of push-to-talk phones that kept the rugged design in mind. Not really known as major player in this area, Samsung released the Rugby on AT&T last year to offer a device that was made to withstand a lot of abuse. Building upon that design, the Samsung SGH-a657 was crafted to meet military specifications and withstand not only the elements, but also the daily wear and tear of everyday use. From accidents like dropping it on the ground to getting splashed with water; this phone can survive through a lot of things.

The package contains:
  • Samsung SGH-a657
  • Charger
  • User Manual


Beauty is not something that the Samsung SGH-a657 is trying to market to the masses. Instead, it emphasizes a very simple design without all the bells and whistles others might embody. If you  look closely, the appearance looks similar to the Samsung B2700 that never made it to our shores. It makes senses that designers use a simple candy bar form factor to minimize any moving parts that may fail through normal wear and tear. Every surface gives off that rubbery feel; especially the sides that have a ribbed pattern for better grip. There are barely any exposed areas on the phone where debris can enter inside. As far as the construction, we like how the hard plastic used for the shell of the phone radiates a solid strong body. For being a phone built to military specifications, it does not feel too light or heavy (4.34 oz) in the hand. Although it is a little bit thicker (0.77”) than most candy bar phones, it's perfect when you consider the added cushion it will provide for protection.

You can compare the Samsung SGH-a657 with many other phones using our Size Visualization Tool.

Although the two inch screen might seem too small for some, it does a good job in terms of brightness and clarity. The 176x200 pixel resolution with 262k colors provides ample viewing for just about anyone. Looking at it from different angles will pose no problem with the bright screen being visible. There were no issues when we were using it outdoors and in direct sunlight. The single speaker can be found above the display and is used for everything from phone calls to music listening.

The square navigation pad sits in the center of the phone with the middle button used for making selections. The numeric keypad and soft keys are all constructed out of the same material to reduce exposed areas on the phone. We felt as though the slightly raised buttons were a  little stiff when pressed down, but they are well sized with minimal spacing in between them. The only dedicated buttons found on the keypad are the GPS and back/clear key. We did not have a hard time seeing the keypad thanks to the bright white backlighting.

On the left side ofthe Samsung SGH-a657, you'll find the volume rocker and push-to-talk button. Both are placed correctly in traditional areas with a good tactile feel. While on the right side, the dedicated flashlight button and a quick launch menu key can be found to allow you access to some commonly used applications. The proprietary USB/charging port can also be exposed after removing the latch. The phone can be attached to something with the clip that is found on the top side. Additionally, the LED flashlight is located in the same area. It does an okay job of lighting up an area in front of you, but it would not replace a traditional one. Finally, you can remove the heavy duty battery cover by opening the lock mechanism. Removing the battery (1420 mAh) will provide you access to the SIM and microSD card slots.

Samsung SGH-a657 360 Degrees View:

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