By July 25, 2007

Samsung u740 mobile phone review

I’m going to be honest. My Motorola E815 was working flawlessly. It was almost cosmetically perfect. It did everything I wanted it to, except it was lacking a little bit of the sexy. The camera sucked, but I wasn’t aiming to become the Ansel Adams of mobile phones. Everything was great, until Lady Jaye bought her Samsung u740 at Verizon Wireless as part of her New Every Two plan.

I immediately envied the phone. The Samsung u740 has a dual-hinged design that allows the phone to open in a normal orientation but also in a “landscape” mode. The u740 has a very tiny near-QWERTY keyboard layout. The keys are about the size of a Tic-Tac. The phone also sports a camera with a flash and an MP3 player, along with features you’ve come to expect, such as Bluetooth, speakerphone and the ability to browse the Web. The phone has a microSD slot for memory expansion.
The phone is shown at just about actual size in this picture (except for the upper right image).

The number one feature for me was the keyboard. Sure, the E815 had predictive text entry that was pretty fucking good, but it wasn’t nearly as swank as an actual keyboard. I text message more than I call these days, and the concept of typing more eloquent, grammatically correct text messages appealed to me. When Lady Jaye got her phone I was tempted to get one the same day. I would have to pay full retail, minus a $50 rebate. However, my New Every Two was coming up in December, and waiting would mean the difference between spending $49 for a new phone and $150. I decided to wait.

“If your NET is in December, DrFaulken, why are you writing this review now?” Good on you for noticing, gentle reader. I was able to buy a slightly used u740 for $60 shipped from a kind gent in the Ars Technica Agora. The fellow had received a Blackberry from work, and he no longer needed his u740. $60 in June is better than $49 in December. I’m the impatient type.

The keys of the u740 are very small. It took me a few days to get the hang of pushing the keys with the sides of my fingers instead of the entire fingertip. If you have thin fingers you won’t have this problem, but if you have little sausage fingers the keys may be too small and close together for you. Numbers and commonly-used symbols are available by pushing the “Num” key, which functions as a caps lock key for those characters. A huge mistake is not including keys for the parenthesis symbols. If this phone is built for text messaging, why not have ) and (? Why have both the & and + symbols? How often does one use the = sign, except to start off a smiley, which needs parenthesis anyway? The parens are available via the softmenu, but it’s annoying to get to them. Bah. The E815 had the most common American smileys in its predictive text library. It is the most glaring flaw of the u740. But I love typing on it so much I’ve learned how to make do by adding smileys as quick text phrases.

Unlike the E815, text messaging via the u740 is best done with both hands. I don’t remember how many times I would text message on the E815 while walking downstairs, or pushing a grocery cart at the store (“Do we need more muffin mix?”), or, um, in the mens’ room. I didn’t realize how often I was keying in messages with one paw until I had to use two. It’s a minor drawback, but something I noticed after using the u740 for awhile.

The u740 supports mp3 ringtones, so adding custom ringers for your contacts is easy. I am not sure if you can add a custom ringer to different lines that belong to the same contact. Meaning, one tone for Lady Jaye’s work and one tone for Lady Jaye’s mobile phone. You are also able to alter the tone for messages — the default text message tone was annoying; plus Lady Jaye and I were always confused as to who received a text message when our tones were the same.

Aside from not putting parenthesis on the keys, the other big drawback to the u740 is that it requires you to use a Bluetooth headset. Well, not exactly. There is an adapter that fits in the power slot that allows you to use a standard wired mobile phone headset. The obvious issue here is you can’t charge the phone and use a wired headset at the same time. Furthermore, you have a very small phone that now has a funky-ass dongle hanging off of it. Not very high tech. Unfortunately, that puts us back into the realm of Bluetooth headsets, which generally suck shit (I have a review coming up, but see my older Plantronics Discovery 640 review for now).

There are other nifty features to the u740, such as a pretty decent camera, voice-to-text-messaging (good for a laugh), calendar, and a built-in wireless sync mechanism for Microsoft Outlook. I don’t really use those features, so perhaps another u740 owner will comment on them. I bought this phone first and foremost for text messaging. The voice quality is very good via the handset; as usual Bluetooth leaves something to be desired. Battery life is very good, considering how slim the phone is. I can normally go four or five days without a charge, but I have Bluetooth disabled and text most of the time.

Despite the emoticon issue, I am very very pleased with the u740. It gets a lot of attention, especially from people younger than I am. I’ve owned the u740 for about six weeks and would recommend it to any Verizon customer looking for a capable non-“smartphone” mobile handset.

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4 Comments on "Samsung u740 mobile phone review"

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  1. Seeyo says:

    On the subject of Bluetooth headsets that don’t suck, we bought my father-in-law a jawbone and he loves it. He’s tried all kinds of different sets, but they always sounded like crap, the jawbone is an entirely different beast, excellent if you’re often in noisy environments or in the car a lot.

  2. drfaulken says:

    Perhaps, but at twice the price of my phone (the jawbones are $120) I’d rather just hold my phone up to my ear or buy a speaker set for my car. I don’t have a problem with noisy environments, it’s just that there’s a low-level hiss from all the bluetooth headsets I’ve tried. The outgoing voice quality seems to be fine thus far, it’s just annoying to feel like I’m talking on an old analog AMPS phone in a tunnel.

  3. chyenne says:

    How do you make smiley faces? I can’t figure out how to turn on the predictive texting either..

  4. drfaulken says:

    Hey there — I forget exactly how (I haven’t had the phone in years) but you have to change character sets on the keyboard to do it. I wound up making “quick texts” of smileys I used most often instead of cycling from “abc” to “123” to “sym.”

    I think T9 (predictive texting) can be set in the overall Settings menu, but again it’s been awhile.