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Review: Samsung M520 for Sprint

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I’ve had the M520 from Samsung for well over a month now and my previous opinion about the Sprint device hasn’t changed. It’s a great phone with some great features. Sure, it looks plain and boring, but you can’t judge a book by its cover now can you? Samsung just knows what they’re doing when it comes to sliders and the M520 is no different. In fact, I think I like it better than its sexy counterpart over at Helio, the Mysto. OMG!

In terms of hardware the M520 is rock solid. The spring assist on the sliding mechanism makes opening and closing the device as smooth as butter. The keyboard is laid out well and makes for easy pecking. The external buttons are well placed and distinct enough that you won’t hit the end button when you’re trying to hit the back button. On the right side you’ll find a camera button and microSD slot. On the left side is the proprietary port for headphones and charger. You’ll also find the volume button.

One feature that piqued my interest was the music player and the ability to put it in the background while you surf the Web or text message. The music player itself stinks and you won’t have much control over what’s going on other than playing, deleting or stopping tracks, which is fine because the M520 isn’t a music-centric device. It will, however, shut off when navigation is enabled or you want to use the camera/video recorder. You can download tracks from the Sprint Music Store or just load some content onto the microSD card like I did. I even got it to work with some mp3s I purchased through iTunes. Speaking of navigation, services are provided by Telenav and it works like a charm. The 1.3-megapixel camera works about as good as any other camera with the same resolution. The same goes for video quality. The conditions have to be perfect.

Watching Sprint TV isn’t too shabby, either. It’s more of a network specific quibble, but videos aren’t very smooth. Some lag occurs so the picture becomes pixilated or the bottom half becomes stagnant. It eventually clears itself up, but it’s a network snafu rather than a hardware issue. When going into full screen mode the picture flips from portrait to landscape and doesn’t shut off when you slide the phone closed.

A couple minor things that are nice to have include Bluetooth and the ability to use the device as a modem. Another cool thing I like is the addition of Favorites. From the home screen you can drop down into your favorites, which includes apps, services, or anything your heart desires as long as it doesn’t exceed 12 items. Setting up e-mail is very easy to do and syncs with AOL, AIM, Hotmail, Yahoo, Gmail, POP or IMAP accounts, but you’re limited to three, which should be sufficient enough for most folks. Voice commands work great, though I never use such things on any device I own.

Overall, I’m happy with the M520. The few desired features it has have worked well and call quality is fine, too. My only qualm with the device goes for any Samsung device and that’s the proprietary charging/headphone port it uses. It’s a pain in the arse to carry around a separate charger and headset when a simple 2.5mm port and USB port would be sufficient enough. It’s what we want, Samsung. We demand it.

You’d be hard pressed to find a comparable device for $50 from Sprint. If you want a good phone with some fancy extras then the M520 should do the trick.

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