This Samsung A107 GoPhone was a nice change after spending the last few weeks checking out the new touchscreen and app-capable prepaid phones appearing on the market. This basic prepaid flip phone from AT&T serves as a good reminder that sometimes you just need a phone. Yet it still does a good job with mobile web, email access, IM and social networking.
Using a ruler on a clipboard (not so exact, I know) the Samsung A107 measures about 3 1/2 inches by 1 3/4 inches. The screen itself is a tiny 1 inch x about 15/16 th’s of an inch. When flipped open it’s about 6 1/2 inches long.
I find it just a little small to use comfortably in one hand – usually one of the main advantages of a compact flip phone. On the other hand, that may make it a good basic phone for a child. The keyboard is a single piece of plastic with lined ridges separating out the buttons, but it still looks and feels well-built rather than flimsy unlike, say, the keyboard on the Nokia 2720.
The A107 body is almost identical to that of the Samsung T245g, T155g and T255g.
There is no external display to tell you the time, battery and signal strength, or whether you have any messages or missed calls. The default for an incoming message is a message ringtone plus a three quick vibrations. After that there doesn’t seem to be any indication of needing check a message. When flip phones with external displays first came out, they didn’t seem all that necessary, but now when faced with a phone that doesn’t have one, you do miss it. If you’re set on a flip-style Samsung GoPhone you can get the A197 instead though it does cost a little more. Otherwise you could look to see if the Nokia is in stock (other than the keyboard it’s actually a pretty nice phone.)
Still for a $10 phone, this Gophone still offers some good value. In addition to calling and texting, you can send and receive picture messages. Of course, there’s no camera, but you’ll be able to see the pictures that other people send you. The only other way of getting pictures on the phone is to download them via the web.
AT&T Mobile web on the Samsung A107 is actually pretty good considering how small the screen is. You can check both the real news as well as sports information. Basically you have access to most of the stuff available through AT&T Medianet service. This includes access to social networks like Facebook and Myspace. There’s even a link to Evite!.
In terms of email you get access to Yahoo! Mail, Windows Live Hotmail, even AOL mail. You also get access to the instant messaging services from these providers.
There’s no link for Google Gmail, but you can easily use the browser and just type in the URL for the mobile version of Gmail (m.gmail.com). Believe it or not, I actually found mobile Gmail pretty nice to use considering the screen size. The login screen fields are large and legible, and the emails are list by the From: and Subject fields and come in pretty fast.
It just cost me a few cents to check the subject lines and and read the text of a couple of email. And this is even after having to painstaking enter in my login info via the numeric keyboard. You can choose to remember this info for next time, but if you do, I suggest you lock the phone itself so no one gets access to your email.
After being pleasantly surprised by Gmail on this phone, I went back and actually checked some of these other options.
Yahoo! Mail worked fine but I had a little trouble logging in the first time. Because the passwords are case-sensitive and the default when typing text is to capitalize the first letter on a line (Abc mode), I got an invalid password error.
After I realized that was what it was, everything went fine. The emails showed on up the first screen after logging in, though you do have to scroll down a bit (you don’t need to click the first “Check Mail” link that appears at the top of the page.
Facebook worked fine. I was able to read my messages, see status updates. When you log in, FB seems to realizethat you’re using a phone like the Samsung A107 and redirects you to a version of their site best for really small screen sizes.
One thing that was missing from the Facebook experience, though I didn’t really miss it, was the advertisements. There were no Facebook ads . . . yet.
Again, using all these sites and services will cost your airtime money so you want to be mindful of that especially with the more addictive sites like Facebook.
You may think it’s a little stupid to go in depth on describing the web services available on such a simple phone but I have to say I was pleasantly surprised. Of course, it really helps to be in an area with good coverage and strong signal strength.
Now let’s get back to some more mundane stuff that does however have an impact on your everday use.
When you open up the Samsung A107 Gophone, you’ll see one of the default wallpapers. In my case there was a yellow boat landed on the beach of a reflecting still blue lake.
When you check the display settings, you’ll find a few more default wallpapers available. You can choose one of them or, and this is quite neat, set it to random so that it randomly cycles through the available wallpapers. I set mine to random, and it’s quite nice. I looked at my regular phone (a recent LG model) to see if this was standard behavior and found that it was not.
You can download additional graphics and wallpapers from AT&T, though I personally didn’t try it. Also you can have someone text a picture to use which you can subsequently use as your wallpaper.
This Gophone comes with 11 default ringtones which cover a pretty good cross-section of styles. My only complaint is that their names don’t really describe how they sound in my mind. The “Business Ringtone” doesn’t sound like a sound appropriate for a business setting unless you interpret it to mean “giving someone the business”. However, I’m not a good judge of this as my tastes in ringtone are fairly boring – I’m happy with the standard AT&T ringtone.
You can also get on AT&T’s network and set up answertones, the sounds people hear when they call you. Setting it up will cost your airtime though.
The usual set of tools are available: alarm clock, calendar, calculator, tip calculator, unit converter (including currency), stopwatch and timer, and world time.
You can set up to four alarms and set which days of the week they should ring and how loud.
The calendar can be used for appointments and anniversaries as well as a miscellaneous events. It's all pretty standard, however, there doesn’t seem to be any facility of sharing the calendar. For example, you don’t have the option of sending the details of an event to someone by text message.
On the other hand, you do get "one-click" access to the calendar by pressing the "C" button, which is pretty convenient. This is the same "C" button that otherwise is used as a "clear" button to delete letters or numbers you've entered for calling or texting.
While this is indeed a basic flip phone, it's still pretty impressive for what it does for under $10 without a contract. If you want a camera and an external LCD you may want the try the next one up, but otherwise, the Samsung A107 GoPhone can still be a good choice.
Here are a few phones available from prepaid providers that are a little more up-to-date.
The Samsung S275g has a 1.3 megapixel camera that you can use with the phone close to take self-portraits.
If you don't want a flip phone, but don't want to go all the way to a smart phone, the LG 840g touchscreen is somewhere in-between.
Perhaps you would be more interested in a texting phone instead? The LG 900g has a nice usable keyboard and screen.