Samsung makes a green phone with soild all-round features. (September 27th, 2009)
The Samsung Reclaim is arguably one of the first better-than-basic phones built to minimize its environmental impact. Samsung boasts that the Reclaim is the first mobile phone in the US made using bio-plastic materials extracted from corn and that the material is 100 percent biodegradable, while 80 percent of the entire phone is recyclable; it even ships in recycled packaging printed on with soy-based inks. Whether that is enough to merit buying the phone over a same-price equivalent, however, is the real question.
Product Manufacturer: Samsung
Price: $50 (2-year contract, Sprint)
- Good ergonomics, especially the keyboard.
- Eco-friendly for those that want it.
- Sturdy build quality.
- Price is right.
- So-so operating system.
- No hardware features truly stand out.
- May be trying too hard to be green.
design and expansion
The Reclaim is designed well for the hand, easy to hold with the keyboard either extended or shut. Overall, the build quality is superb, too, and we found the back panel hiding the battery to be quite sturdy, as are the covers over the expansion ports.
The left side of the handset has a 3.5mm standard audio jack -- a rarity in this category --and a volume rocker. The right side contains a button to activate the camera, a USB connection, and the microSD slot. Combined, it makes for a surprisingly convenient device to control. And despite the front of the Reclaim containing 11 buttons (including the D-pad), it doesn't look or feel cluttered at all. The 320x240 resolution screen is sharp and bright enough, but not necessarily eye-popping like some other phones we've recently reviewed.
The QWERTY keyboard is large and backlit. All of the keys feel easy to reach, and we didn't find it difficult to acclimate to typing texts and e-mail messages quickly. Accessing symbols, emoticons, and numbers feels very natural; Samsung did a great job designing the functionality of this keyboard. The keys are a little on the tall side, but they are wide enough to be usable.
usability and call quality
Navigating the main banner-style menu on the Reclaim takes some getting used to, but overall we found it workable. In addition to the typical cellphone functions users would expect, the main menu has icons to access Sprint's (subscription-only) GPS navigation app, a Sprint web browser and both Facebook as well as MySpace apps. There is even a "Best of Green" application that features a Green Guide, a Green Glossary, and more, although this might be evidence of Samsung trying too hard to wear its eco-friendly credentials on its sleeve. At least the decision to move the manual to an on-phone (and on-web) only choice actually does save paper for a feature few tend to actually use.
The 2-megapixel camera takes decent quality photos and even supports PictBridge printing to connect the Reclaim directly to a compatible photo printer, although no one will mistake it for a high-end camera phone -- which is acceptable given the target audience.
Sprint's 3G connection gave us reasonably fast web browsing speeds, and the voice quality was excellent. Phone calls on the Reclaim came through loudly and clearly. We found both the speaker and microphone to be well calibrated, too. All of the typical phone functions such as calculator, alarm, and contacts are included and the applications respond quickly.
The Reclaim isn't a smartphone, but as a feature phone it's a capable device with its environmental credentials as an appreciated bonus. For those that find the idea of a green cellphone appealing the Reclaim is certainly worth a look. For those that don't, the price still means that it's a viable option: getting a reasonably full-featured 3G phone for $50 on contract is hard to resist if you're looking for a device that's good at the fundamentals.