Mini Review of the Samsung N370


The Samsung N370 isnít exactly a new phone, but since it is still for sale through various CDMA providers such as Bell Mobility I felt that it was worth having a look. The unit isnít anything special, and it should be considered an entry-level phone.

Last Updated: 25-Jul-2003

 

Before reading this review, please read Some Thoughts on Phone Reviewing.

General

My exposure to the N370 was fairly short, thus the Mini Review tag. I spent a couple of hours toting it around Square One shopping mall in Mississauga, which as many of you know is one of my favorite places to test phones.

The mall has many sections that are actually underground, and even having repeaters inside the mall doesnít provide 100% coverage. Bell Mobility has had repeaters in Square One for many years, but just by turning corners into halls not especially close to repeater antennas, the signals can drop right off the map. Those are excellent places to test the RF capabilities of a phone.

I brought along my Motorola ST7868W for comparison. While the StarTac isnít the best at everything, I know it well enough to use it as a point of reference. For those whoíve been faithfully reading my reviews, youíll know that phones such as the Ericsson T206 have better RF than the StarTac, and so it is by no means the best CDMA phone. Keep that in mind when I talk about the RF performance of the N370.

The phone is physically well built, as seems to be the case for all Samsung models. The level of fit-and-finish isnít quite as good as Iíve seen on their other models, but it is certainly better than the vast majority of other phones on the market. The monochrome display isnít huge, but it provides high readability, and it has reasonably handsome fonts.

The keypad is fairly traditional, and the keys are well-spaced and easy to press. The tactile feel isnít terrific, but itís certainly much better than some. Sample text entry proved that the overall design of the keypad was more than adequate for text messaging, and for typing stuff into the Web Browser.

The menu structure is typical Samsung, which is to say fairly well organized, but nothing to write home about. Navigating the menus is easy enough, and Iím sure that once users are accustomed to them, they should prove to be good enough for most people.

I didnít find the overall engineering of the user interface to be particularly well thought-out however. For example, I noticed that when reading SMS, that spaces falling at the beginning of a line were simple left there. On most other phones a space that ended up at the beginning of a new line would simply be removed, so that words always started at the beginning of a line.

For example, take the following sample SMS message:

Iíll meet you
 
at the mall

Itís absurd that the space after the word ďyouĒ was left in at the beginning of the next line, and it demonstrates a lack of thoughtfulness that makes one wonder what other surprises are waiting around the next corner.

RF Performance and Audio Quality

Incoming sound quality is tinny and harsh, which is say about par for the course for Samsung CDMA phones. Earpiece volume is excellent, but the sound becomes increasingly harsh as the volume goes up. Certainly you can learn to live with the sound quality, but Iíve heard much better on other CDMA phones.

Outgoing sound quality on the other hand is among the best Iíve heard on any 1X phones thus far tested. Even with fairly loud background noise from the food court at Square One, the resulting audio is remarkably clean and understandable. It still has the damaging effects of the noise suppression feature built into the CODEC, but it isnít nearly as bad as on other 1X phones Iíve recently tested. For those who read other reviews, that puts me at odds with Howard Chui, who said that outgoing sound quality on the N370 was poor.

RF performance is not particularly good. Remember how I mentioned that my Motorola ST7868W wasnít exactly the tops in that department? Well, the StarTac was still noticeably superior at holding onto a call than was the N370. In areas where the StarTac continued to provide interference-free reception, the audio on the N370 broke up enough to make a conversation difficult.

Viewed as an entry-level phone, Iíd have to say that the N370 is probably a reasonable buy for some. However, for those looking for something a cut above mediocre, the N370 is not the phone to buy.

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