Review: Samsung u550
There are two displays on the u550. The exterior display is about one square inch. It is just large enough to show you the time, date and service level indicators. Because of the glossy finish over it and the proclivity of that surface to attract finger oils, the screen was often difficult to read outdoors. Even under cloudy skies, without any sun present, outdoor light always seemed to obscure the screen a bit. In comparison, the internal display was much better at surviving sun glare. It is nice and bright, and the resolution (176 x 220) is just high enough that you don't notice any rough edges to icons or images on the screen. Colors looked dead on.
As with many Verizon phones, the u550 has two signal strength indicators. One for 1xRTT, and one for EV-DO. Each goes up to a full-strength of four bars. In our time with the u550, the EV-DO indicator never had more than two bars of signal strength. We know that the area we tested the phone is blanketed with strong EV-DO coverage (my laptop has 5 full bars of EV-DO coverage as I write this), so there's something about the u550's internal antenna that is keeping it from latching onto the full signal that's available. The 1x indicator fluctuated between two and three bars, but rarely reached four bars. In the NJ vault test, the u550 lost signal entirely, and was unable to make or receive calls at all.
Even though the u550 didn't exactly lock onto Verizon's signal with all its might, call quality on the u550 was superb. It is one of the better phones we've tested in recent memory. There was no crackling, burbles, hissing or any other strange noises during calls, and conversations were crystal clear. Not only could we hear calls in noisy coffee shops well, but the u550's ear piece speaker was loud enough to be heard during an Iron Maiden concert. Yes, it's that loud. Even at that volume, the speaker did not become distorted. The speakerphone performed equally well. Set to full volume, calls were very audible, even from several rooms away.
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The u550 did well with battery life. Despite some serious calling, Web browsing and music listening, we managed to get 3 full days out of it. If you dial back usage, you can get closer to 4 days. There's no doubt that you can go away for the weekend without bringing along your charger.
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