Menu/phone book: We found using the phone book and navigating through the menu intuitive. You have a choice of two menu schemes: Samsung's or Sprints. Both are easy to use and view. Even entering and accessing phone numbers was easy. You can store up to 500 contacts, each of which can include 5 phone numbers, an e-mail address, a Web site, a nickname, and notes (you can manually enter street address info in this slot) for each. We did find one odd occurrence: missed calls appear in both the Missed Alerts and Call History folders on the cell phone.
Camera/video: The Samsung M610 has a 2-megapixel camera lens sitting on a hinge at the top of the cell phone. You can snap a picture from any vantage, but if you want to use a viewfinder, youll need to flip open the cell phone and look to the internal screen. However, the cell phone has a ton of advanced features, including a meeting option that can help with color accuracy. You can choose between the Average setting or spot metering to help enhance lighting options. There are also a few white-balance modes to choose from: Auto, Sunny Cloudy, Tungsten, Fluorescent, and Manual. Finally, we have seen fun shooting filters such as monochrome and sepia before, but this cell phone also offers aqua and green.
Unfortunately, the Samsung M610's built-in camera didnt fare so well. As expected, color accuracy is impressive when viewed on the cell phone, as long as theres good lighting when you snap a picture. However, if there isnt sufficient lighting, colors appear a bit drab, and color quality diminishes further when you transfer the pics from the M610 to a PC. The pictures tended to have a lot of noise, which means youll see lots of specks on the actual photo when you view them on a computer. Unfortunately, there wasnt a lot of detail in pictures either.
On the plus side, the Samsung M610 supports PictBridge, which is a way to send pictures from a camera directly to a PictBridge-enabled printer. Since the M610 has a 2-megapixel camera, youll be able to print quality 4x6 photos. In order to use this feature, youll need a cable that connects the camera phone to the printer. If the printer has Bluetooth, ditch the cable and send photos via the cell phones Bluetooth connection.
Music: Sprints initial efforts at music (the company dabbled in it a few years ago with the Uproar) were less than stellar since so much of the experience was tied to the Sprint Music Store; you also needed a data plan to access the music you purchased. However, were ecstatic to report thats not the case anymore. If you can get music onto this Samsung cell phone, you can listen to it without logging onto the Sprint Music Store. The actual player settings are a bit slim, so dont expect to do much to enhance music played on the Samsung M610. About all you can find out is information on the song currently being played.
As mentioned earlier, the phone's MP3 playback quality is impressive. The cell phone supports both MP3 and Apples AAC audio files (sorry, there's no support for Microsofts WMA files). The number of songs you can save on the cell phone will depend on what else you have stored on the Samsung M610. (Note: If you store only music, youll get a mere 8 songs.) The good news is that the M610 comes with a 64MB TransFlash card for extra storage, and you can save about 12 more songs on the card.
Connectivity/Bluetooth: We were able to easily connect to a Bluetooth headset (we found call quality was acceptable with the Motorola H500). Additionally, you can use the Bluetooth to print pictures from your cell phone using the included PictBridge feature.
Look and feel: For a cell phone thats thinner than the Motorola Razr and arguably as sleek, the Samsung M610 surprisingly isnt more popular. The cell phone is also large; when you flip it open and hold it up to your ear to take a call, it fits comfortably along your face, and you can easily line up the phones microphone with your mouth. True, its black exterior tends to attract fingerprints, but you'll need to examine it very closely to see all the smudges. We should note that if you carry a bag with a black lining, you might want to dedicate an area to store your cell phone since it can easily get lost floating around your tote.
Instead of following the trend among cell phones of incorporating an external display that sports photo caller ID, the M610s exterior screen is more retro; it has two blue lines that include all the pertinent information (caller ID, date, time, network strength, and battery life). However, flip open the phone and youll see a beautiful, crisp display with big numbers that is viewable in most lighting situations; those who have a hard time reading the numbers that appear on a cell phone screen need look no further. However, we did find the automatic screen backlight setting is too short for our preferences, but thats easy enough to change. Our favorite feature occurs when dialing a phone number; the numbers appear on the screen in multiple colors, illuminated as if it were the Lite-Brite game.
Our main quibble with the cell phones design is that you need to remove the battery to insert or remove the 64MB external memory card. The other issue is one that appears increasingly in Samsung cell phones: the headset and battery share the same port and arent in any way standard.
Keypad: Flat keypads are all the rage, but weve yet to encounter a keypad as flat as the one found on the Samsung M610. While we love the flat keys, we should note that they tend to be difficult to dial by feel in the dark. However, the keys are large and spaced far enough apart that misdials are rare, even for those who have larger fingers.