Samsung SPH-M400 Review: Bare Basics for the Elderly and Kids
Some phones are easy to pass over. Most phones stand out with a high-megapixel camera or sharp screen. When it comes to Samsung's M400, though, my first thought was, "Why would anyone want this phone?" That's because it's extremely minimalist. But then I noticed, if you want a simple phone, it has some ideal features -- especially for seniors. The basic shape looks dull, but the jumbo buttons are perfect for arthritic fingers. Or, for that matter, a kid's hands. I can see three primary audiences: the elderly, small children and a backup if you lose your phone.
The M400 is good if you're in a crisis. If you find it on sale, without a contract, I see myself picking one up just to have an extra phone around the house. If you're turned off by the complexity of smartphones, this is the anti-smartphone. It's a basic plastic clamshell that doesn't try to impress with its looks. It knows it's boring. If the faux-metallic finish on the front is supposed to add pizzazz, it's not working. Nor is the light texture on the back. Size-wise, the height and width is average, but it's a cumbersome 0.8-inches thick. The squat, boxy shape is rather ugly, but at nearly four ounces, it's not as heavy as it is unwieldy.
The 1-inch external screen, meanwhile, shows the time and doles out notifications. Even though it's low-tech, it does its job -- alerts are convenient to see. The 2.4-inch internal display, though, is more problematic. Since it's a budget device, I'd expect nothing less than a low 320-by-240 resolution at a measly 167-ppi pixel density. It's far from sharp, which is an understatement. No, the bigger issue is the glare. In direct sunlight, the screen gives off a powerful sheen that makes it nearly unusable -- you can't see anything. In addition, brightness levels are off kilter, and unless you're looking at it straight-on, you won't see much -- the viewing angle is pretty limited. Still, it's not like you're going to play games or watch a movie on it. It's decidedly bottom-barrel. But if all you plan to do is call and text, it'll work. One thing I liked about the screen: font size is big and easy to adjust.
The keypad is designed with large and responsive buttons, which give off a pleasant springy softness. I thought the layout was very well-spaced. When you press a special 911 emergency key, it'll ask you if you want to make the call before you dial -- just so you don't accidentally pocket-dial. You can also program in-case-of-emergency contacts for quick one-touch calling if problems should arise -- perfect for the elderly and kids.
The 1.3-megapixel camera, meanwhile, is as grim as the screen. Pictures are blurry and pixelated. It's just a hot mess, so just pretend that you don't have a camera -- after you use it, you won't use it again.
The music is just as disappointing. You can plug your own headphones into the 3.5-millimeter jack or listen via Bluetooth. The issue is the paltry 128-megabytes of RAM and 256-megabytes of ROM. You can store a handful of albums. If you need more space, you'll have to start deleting -- there's no microSD card. The 1,000 mAh battery is more generous, but barely -- I lasted around four hours of talk time and well over a day on standby, so if you're a heavy caller, take a charger with you to the office. A tiny 480-megahertz chip powers the phone quickly, but the browser is painfully slow -- it's pretty much useless.
The M400 lacks an e-mail client, so only consider it if you just want to make calls -- which it does well -- and send messages. It's a fine mobile lifeline -- buy it for your elderly parents or a toddler. But other than that, look elsewhere. There are better bare-bones options like the Rugby 3 or Gusto 2. ♦
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November 08, 2012
After 6 frustrating months with a smartphone, I decided to give this regular cell phone a try. It is being way under-rated. I loaded Opera Mini on it and can check my Facebook and Twitter way faster than on my smartphone. It doesn't freeze up, the sound is crystal clear and it, in person, is quite attractive. I'm on day two without a charge and I have 3/4 battery left. This is after several texts, calls and surfing the web a few times. I am very happy so far with this phone. Ignore the comments about it being a phone only for seniors... .it is one of the nicest cell phones I have owned.
The only downside, and I knew this going in, is that it does not have a music player.Was this review helpful to you?
19 out of 20 people found this review helpful.
December 06, 2012
Basic, but nice.
This phone meets my needs in that it has great sound and long battery life. My primary need is for security while on the road and this fits the bill nicely.
I would like to be able to download photos to my PC. Unfortunately, the USB data link requires a driver. After several contacts with Samsung Support, they were unable to supply the driver.
I was directed to the driver down load page of their web site, but the only down load for the SPHM400 was the manual.
5 out of 6 people found this review helpful.
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