Design, Keyboard, and Call Quality
A standard flip phone, the Factor measures 3.8 by 1.9 by 0.7 inches (HWD) and weighs 3.2 ounces. It opens up to just over 7 inches, which I found to be a very comfortable size to hold. The phone is made entirely of shiny gray plastic, with a comfortable, rubberized keypad. The external display is about the size of a postage stamp, and shows the battery life, date, ringer status, signal, and time. The 2-inch interior display offers just 128-by-160 pixel resolution; text looked fine, but pictures and any other graphics look pretty poor.
I really liked the Factor’s keypad, which features large, well- separated keys. The selection keys and navigation pad are especially easy to use, making this a good device for users seeking simplicity. It made for quick and easy texting, as well as navigation of the phone’s straightforward UI.
The Samsung Factor is a dual-band (800MHz, 1900MHz) device with no Wi-Fi. In my tests, reception was fine and voice quality was good overall. Voices were clear and natural in the phone’s earpiece. The volume is very loud, though voices would distort just a bit at the highest setting. Calls made with the phone were also clear, though they had a tendency to sound a bit distant, as if the caller was not speaking directly into the phone. This didn’t really bother me, and the phone did a nice job with background noise reduction. Calls sounded clear through an Aliph Jawbone Icon Bluetooth headset ($99, 4 stars), and voice dialing worked fine. Battery life was on the low side at 4 hours and 44 minutes.
Service Provider = BoostScreen Size = 2 inchesScreen Details = 128-by-160, 262K-color TFT LCD screenCamera = YesNetwork = CDMABands = 800, 1900
Apps, Features, and Conclusions
Boost’s $50-per-month plan offers unlimited voice calls, text messages, and Web access. The Factor includes a very basic built-in WAP browser. It’s fast enough for casual use and OK for reading text, but with unlimited Web access at your fingertips, you could do better. E-mail access is available for AOL, Gmail, Windows Live, Yahoo, and IMAP/POP3 accounts. It’s simple to use and relatively speedy. The instant-messaging client can handle AIM, MSN, and Yahoo.
There’s a 0.3-megapixel VGA camera that can take pictures and video—but not very well. Images were blurred and blocky, even on the phone’s tiny 2-inch screen. Videos didn’t fare much better. If you want to take pictures, bring a digital camera, or go for a different phone.
A number of standard, generic apps are included on the phone, including an alarm clock, calculator, calendar, notepad, and world clock. But that’s about it, as far as extras are concerned. Additional ringtones, wallpapers, and games can be downloaded from Boost, but you can’t use your own. With the Factor, you get 28MB of internal memory and there’s no memory card slot.
If you’re looking for an inexpensive, no-frills handset on Boost, the Samsung Factor is a fine option. This phone is as simple as it gets, and call quality is good. The same-price Motorola Rambler ($49.99, 3 stars) is another good choice, with a slightly better feature set and a QWERTY keyboard. But the Rambler lacks the utter simplicity of the Factor. For Boost users looking for something a bit more advanced, the Sanyo Incognito SCP-6760 ($79.99, 3.5 stars) offers a great QWERTY keyboard and slightly better Web access, at a price that’s still well below $100.