Samsung E635 – Some Form, Some Function

samsung 365If you’re looking for nothing more than a basic, pocket sized mobile phone, Samsung’s E635 is a solid bet. Mostly unremarkable, this tiny phone—which recently went on sale with T-Mobile—does manage one thing really well: making phone calls.

It’s also really, really small. Just one of the three phones in Samsung’s fall lineup of 15 handsets to use a slider design, the E635 measures just a shade over 3 inches when closed and at less than 3 ounces its easy to forget this tri-band phone is even in your pocket.

Still, Samsung seems to think this diminutive device is feature-packed enough to warrant a $199 price tag, and that’s where the E635 falls short. Yes, it has a speakerphone, a built-in instant messaging client and a basic camera. These days, most phones do. It also has what Samsung calls “HiFi ringers for vibrant ringtones”. Unfortunately, the phone’s tiny form factor renders most of these additional—and largely uninspiring—services very difficult to use. (Only a sadist would bang out text messages on this tiny keyboard.) With the E635, its best to just stick to making calls: I didn’t have any problems with dropped calls during my tests, which is a testament both to Samsung’s typically solid radios but also to T-Mobile’s improving Bay Area cell-phone service.

Basically the E635 is an entry-level phone with a feature phone price tag. There are plenty of other devices out there that may warrant a $199 price tag—Cingular’s Audiovox 5600 springs to mind—unfortunately, this is not one of them. If you really want an entry-level phone, you’re probably better off with another Samsung phone—the P207. It’s only $99, and it packs a really useful additional feature.

Review by Matt Maier, wireless and gizmo correspondent for Business 2.0 magazine. Subscribe to his Weekly Wireless Report.