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Review: Samsung A900

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The A900 includes shortcuts to create text, picture or audio messages in the favorites menu. New message dialogs force you to address the message first, either from your phone book, or with a manually entered number or email address. Once this step is complete, you can type in a full screen text box. T9 is very fast, keeping up with as fast as we could text using the A900's flat keypad.

Despite the speed of T9 on this phone, it is still one of the A900's weaknesses. The T9 dictionary comes pre-loaded with many SMS abbreviations but cannot be customized with your own. Worse, the T9 text entry does not allow you to go back and choose a different word after you have hit the space key when entering text. Thus if you are texting without looking and want to go back to change a word when T9 defaulted to the wrong one, you'll have to scroll back and erase the word, re-enter it and then switch to the proper choice instead of just scrolling back, selecting the word and finding the right choice. Finally the punctuation available while hitting the 1 key using T9 is limited. If you want to use the question mark, exclamation point or many other very common symbols, you'll have to exit T9 and use the symbol entry mode.

Even though the A900 can send MMS directly from the handset, Sprint requires you to register a picture mail account before allowing you to create an MMS. Once registered with the system, creating and sending picture messages is a straightforward process. Pictures sent to email addresses are sent at full resolution, not resized, which is a nice for Flickr users.

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The A900 also offers a special handwriting picture message option. You can draw or write something on a piece of paper, the use the handwriting message mode to take a picture of it. This will create a high contrast black and white image of the text.

New text messages are shown in a "missed events" dialog - a list of all missed calls, new messages and other notifications. If you dismiss the events dialog without reading new messages, a message indicator is displayed in the status bar, as with other handsets. The problem with the A900 is that the message indicator for voicemail is exactly the same as for new messages. If there are new SMS waiting for you, you may never know that there's also a new voicemail. There is no entry in the events list for new voicemail, and if you have voicemail because you did not have phone service, there will not even be a missed call entry to help you guess that a new voicemail is waiting.

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