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    list($149.99)
    1. Samsung SCH8500 Phone, Silver
    list($99.99)
    2. Kyocera QCP2035 Phone (Sprint)

    1. Samsung SCH8500 Phone, Silver (Sprint)
    by Samsung
    list price: $149.99
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: B000056NSA
    Catlog: Wireless
    Manufacturer: Samsung
    Sales Rank: 2526
    US | Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan

    Amazon.com

    If you need a phone as a constant, all-purpose digital communications companion, the Samsung SCH-8500 dual-band digital and analog phone is a strong candidate. It's small and light enough so you won't mind carrying it with you all the time, but its size belies its communications features and battery life. The display (which can show five lines of content), status icons, and smart key prompts, are well suited for Internet access or text messaging. When you add voice dialing and voice memo recording to the mix, the SCH-8500 stands out.

    The SCH-8500 is a clamshell flip phone that measures 3.3 by 2.1 by 1 inches (length by width by depth) with the cover closed, and the antenna measures 1-inch when collapsed. With battery, the phone weighs a light 5 ounces. This 800 MHz analog/1900 MHz CDMA digital phone has a rugged case with two-tone gray styling highlights. A dual-slot desktop charger is included, which is fine if you don't travel. But if you're on the road for more than a couple of days, you might consider springing for the optional and more portable travel charger.

    The flip cover contains the display and rubberized earpiece. When closed, it hides all the controls, except for a volume control toggle and voice memo start/stop button on the left side. The flip screen measures only 1.5 by 1 inches (width by height), but it does a fine job of displaying status icons, menus, and text. You navigate menus and text with four cursor buttons. Other control keys are labeled Menu, Talk, End, CLR and OK (with a envelope icon for checking messages). The rubberized keys are nearly flush with the phone's surface, so, while your fingers won't slide around, you do have to pay attention when hitting the keys. There are 13 ringer choices--nine tones and four melodies--plus a vibration mode for courtesy or discretion. Of the 229 possible phonebook entries, six can be set for speed-dial. The rest can be dialed with two-, three-, or four-touch dialing (you enter any four digits that appear consecutively in a phone number).

    If supported by your plan and carrier, the Samsung SCH-8500 supports caller ID, call waiting, call forwarding, one-way SMS text messaging, e-mail, voicemail alerts, and mobile Internet access (our Sprint PCS test phone included all these features). A minibrowser is also included, as well as a calendar, to-do list, calculator, and alarm clock with countdown feature.

    You can voice dial up to 20 phone-book numbers book just by hitting a hot key to access the carrier's voice-dialing support. This worked well, although it is technically a carrier feature rather than a feature of this phone. You can record four separate memos of 60 seconds each--just remember, since the microphone is covered by the cover, you need to flip it up to record a voice note or make a voice call.

    Security features in the SCH-8500 include phone and outgoing call locking. There's also a feature to completely erase your phone book and other personal information entries. While there is no infrared port, the serial port can be used with an optional data cable and software to transfer data to a PC, and to use the phone as a wireless modem.

    We were surprised and pleased when the SCH-8500 exceeded Samsung's rated maximum talk time. The lithium-ion battery is rated for a maximum 180 minutes, but in our connection test it ran for 220 minutes. Standby time, rated at 120 hours, tested for 102 hours. A dual-slot desktop charger is included with the phone.

    The compact Samsung SCH-8500 is packed with features for voice call management and messaging. Better-than-average battery talk time and wireless Web access and an impressive display make it a good choice for busy professionals.

    --Testing and evaluation by Brown Consulting Associates, edited by Thom Arno

    Pros:

    • Strong battery performance in talk-time testing
    • Compact and lightweight
    • Clear, moderate-sized screen for messaging and Internet access
    • Fully featured for voice calls and communications tasks

    Cons:

    • Compact travel charger not included

    How We Tested Battery-Talk/Standby Time

    When reading our reviews, you should view the test results of mobile-phone battery talk time and standby time as relative information only. Many variables, including carrier signal strength at your location, signal consistency (including incoming and outgoing calls), display and ringer settings, and battery charging methods and history, will affect performance. When handset manufacturers and mobile phone carriers list talk-time and standby-time ratings, they usually include disclaimers about variable performance and often refer to the times they publish as maximum times. Some quote expected battery life ranges, and in this case you're probably safe to assume you'll experience at least the minimum rated range. Note that manufacturers of dual-mode digital and analog handsets publish battery-life rates for both digital and analog modes, as analog mode consumes much more power than digital mode.

    Our Tests: We tested digital-mode talk and standby times with each phone. Prior to each test, we fully charged the phone's battery according to the manufacturer's directions. To test digital-phone talk time, we turned the phone on, established a digital carrier signal, dialed a number in our test lab, and, when the call rang through, took the receiving phone's handset off the hook. When all went well, we didn't do anything else except record the time when the phone died. In a couple of cases, the phones lost the signal and dropped the calls. If we were right there and could redial, we did so immediately and continued running the test. Otherwise, we halted the test, recharged the battery, and started the test over. Assuming consistent carrier-signal strength, this test should represent best-case talk time. And it's worth noting that several phones' talk-time performance significantly exceeded the manufacturers' ratings.

    To test digital-phone standby time, we turned the phone on, established a carrier signal, and left the phone in standby mode. We checked the phone every few hours (for what was often days on end) until the phone finally cut out. Since no outgoing or incoming calls occurred during testing and because the phone was not moved, this method should represent best-case standby time, again assuming consistent carrier signal strength. ... Read more

    Features

    • Compact and lightweight
    • Dual-mode for widest coverage
    • Voice dialing and voice-memo recording
    • Features a calendar, to-do list, alarm clock, and phone book
    • Up to 180 minutes digital talk time, 120 hours digital standby time; includes Lithium-ion battery, charger, and wrist strap

    2. Kyocera QCP2035 Phone (Sprint)
    by Kyocera
    list price: $99.99
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: B000056NSE
    Catlog: Wireless
    Manufacturer: Kyocera
    Sales Rank: 4211
    US | Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan

    Amazon.com

    To its credit, the Kyocera QCP-2035 is a trimode/dual-band phone that covers most of the bases and won't break your budget. However, despite its hip appeal, its features and functionality pale in comparison to those of other phones vying for your attention.

    Housed in a translucent blue casing, the QCP-2035 measures 5.1 by 1.8 by 0.8 inches, has a retractable antenna, and weighs 4.0 ounces with its standard battery. The five-line screen (four lines of text, one line of status icons), 16-character backlit display, and a minimum number of buttons allow for simple operation, although it took us some time to get in tune with the phone's unique menu navigation.

    A star-shaped button, four-way directional key, and backspace key handle menu navigation. We accessed the minibrowser, our phone book, messages, and phone settings without much effort, but found it hard to acclimate to one particular menu function. When navigating menus, prompts display over the backspace and star keys, but only the star key selects menu options, while backspace brings you back to the main menu. Also, once you choose a menu selection, you can't scroll continuously through the options, which is bothersome at best.

    The minibrowser has a healthy selection of popular Web sites as well as game and instant-messaging folders. You can also receive financial, sports, weather, and other updates via the wireless Internet. And if you purchase a data kit, you can use the phone as a digital modem for PCs or download PIM data from your computer.

    The QCP-2035 supports carrier-dependent features such as caller ID, call waiting, voice mail, two-way text messaging, and Internet access. Its phone book stores up to 100 numbers, with up to 6 numbers per contact. You can also search for numbers by entering all or part of a name or number. The phone has 15 ringer types, plus vibrating mode, and a call log that maintains lists of outgoing, incoming, and missed calls.

    Unlike many other Sprint PCS-branded phones, the QCP-2035 doesn't support any voice-activated features. Also, it's missing side-mounted volume control buttons. While the four-way directional key will raise and lower call volume, it's not an intuitive action.

    Attention should be paid to the QCP-2035's set of PIM functions, which include an alarm clock, tip calculator, standard calculator, and stopwatch. However, the phone lacks a calendar and to-do list. We truly enjoyed the game Brick Attack--a highly addictive version of the old-school classic Breakout.

    The QCP-2035 offers three basic security features: keypad locking, phone lock, and restricted dialing.

    At 185 minutes, our QCP-2035's talk time was shorter than the manufacturer-rated 3.5 hours. We achieved nearly five days of standby time, which matched Qualcomm's 120-hour rating. For normal usage, we suggest checking on battery life at least every other day. Also, the battery pops out without any effort and is replaced easily.

    This is fine phone for light use or as an extra to loan for temporary use to family members or colleagues, but the lack of features and complex menu navigation may prove frustrating with everyday use.

    --Thom Arno (edited by Steve O'Neil)

    Pros:

    • Trimode/dual-band operation
    • Translucent-blue casing

    Cons:

    • Awkward menu navigation
    • No voice-activated commands
    • Lacks a calendar and to-do list

    ... Read more

    Features

    • Cool translucent-blue casing
    • Trimode/dual-band operation
    • Web enabled
    • Swappable faceplates
    • Up to 3.5 hours digital talk time and 120 hours digital standby time; includes Lithium-ion battery and charger

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