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When it comes to cell phones, I don't need all those bells and whistles that they offer these days. That means I have practically no use for things like cameras, MP3 players, GPS, Internet access or any of those things. No, when I look for a phone I want something to make and receive calls with, and with which I can get and send SMS messages. When I was offered the Samsung M310, I realized immediately I was getting something right up my alley, and now I'm sure of it.
Don't get me wrong - this phone does have some fancy stuff to it. However, the quality is very basic - at best. For instance, the camera is only VGA and to tell you the truth, the quality of the pictures are lousy, to be frank. There is no MP3 player at all, and in fact, you can't even use MP3 files as your ring tones, since this only uses polyphonic ones. You can get internet on this if you want, but I don't have it, and since it's only a 2nd generation phone, I can imagine the connection would be slow. Despite all this, the phone is quad-band, so I'll be able to use it all over the world - even in the USA and Asia (not that I can see myself going to either of these areas anytime soon, but still... nice to know, right).
One thing you do get with this phone is marvelous sound quality. What an absolute pleasure to answer the phone and be able to hear the other person so clearly, you'd think they were right next to you! Plus, since I've been using this phone, I've never had anyone say that they can't hear me. In addition, another really nice thing about this phone is when you're on a call, if the sound isn't loud enough (or is too loud), there are volume buttons on the side to adjust for that. These same buttons work with the radio's volume, and also when you're about to dial, they change the volume of the key buttons.
The only really fancy things this phone has are Bluetooth and that FM radio. I've used the Bluetooth to get some extra ring tones and found the setup for both connecting and using the files to be extremely simple and I didn't need to look at the instruction book to use it. All I did was hit the Bluetooth button on the keyboard and I was brought directly to where I needed to be to turn it on or off. By the way, you can use the Bluetooth with a headset for hands-free calling, and so far, I've noticed this doesn't drain the battery at all.
As for the FM radio, it's absolutely fantastic. It has marvelous reception, picking up stations that my car radio doesn't always get as clearly. Moreover, the sound is so strong I find I have to lower the volume to almost the minimum, except when I'm somewhere very noisy. You should know that using the radio does deplete the battery somewhat, but even with daily use, you'll probably only shorten the times between recharging by about one day.
That brings me to the battery life of this phone. I've found that I can go up to a week of normal use, and a bit more than four days of heavy use (including using the radio and Bluetooth) before needing to charge the battery. While this isn't as good as some of my old Nokia phones, it certainly is better than most other fancy phones that my family and friends have, so high marks for this Samsung on the battery life.
All of the workings of this phone are simplicity itself. There is nothing complicated about making calls, sending messages or anything else. But this does have its drawbacks since you can't customize things like the way the icons are displayed or change what keys do which actions or even set up speed dialing (that I've been able to figure out). Mind you, contacts can be stored with individual ring tones, but since these are only polyphonic, it's hardly worth the effort. Furthermore, since the camera is poor and there's no MP3 player, having 4MB memory means you can store 500 of contacts and 200 messages. It also remembers 30 each of the last received, dialed and missed calls.
Finally, the design of this phone is more than acceptable for a cheap cell phone. As you can see from the picture, it is a clamshell model, which opens and closes very securely, and feels sturdy. This also means that it's small in your pocket (or pocketbook), but big on buttons and screen size. That means these old eyes don't need to have their reading glasses to dial, send SMS messages or read what's on the screen - and that can't be a bad thing. The casing comes in brown or lilac, and I got the latter - which is nice, if a touch bit cheesy looking. The only piece of design that worries me is the charger and headphones plug cover, which seem flimsy, and could snap off very easily. Since it's on the side of the machine, instead of the bottom, I can understand why they didn't want this exposed, as dirt can get into it easily. However, I'm sure if I'm not careful, it won't last very long.
So if you're looking for a phone that's truly simple and cheap, but will give you good battery life, excellent sound quality for making and receiving calls, and that's easy to use, with big keys and a large screen, and that you can take anywhere in the world, this is probably a great option. However, if you're looking for fancy internet connections and/or applications, GPS, an MP3 player and ring tones, or a quality camera, don't even give this one a second thought - it simply won't satisfy. All told, this deserves three out of five stars, but its still one of the best basic phones I've ever used.
Davida Chazan © August 2009
I found this for sale on Amazon here http://tinyurl.com/mu43fp for only £70.34, but I'm sure you can find it elsewhere for even less than that.
This phone was introduced by Samsung in 2008, but I don't see it still being listed on their site - for some reason.