Samsung Reclaim review

3.5 out of 5
Dependent on contract

For

Eco credentials, easy to use, basic and simple

Against

QWERTY keyboard hard to use, no Wi-Fi

Samsung's Reclaim is, as it might sound, a phone that has been made with "reclaimed" materials. So it is something you want to be seen with, or something you should send back to the dump? We took a closer look.

From an environmental standpoint the most interesting thing about the Reclaim is that it's made from corn. You know the stuff that grows in fields and is great on the BBQ.

Of course this isn't a phone that you can munch on when you're waiting for a call. In fact you won't even know that it's made from 80% recycled materials and foodstuffs, which additionally will make you question why everyone else isn't doing this too.

To the naked eye it looks like plastic, feels like plastic and well is - it is actually called bio-plastic, but we aren't about to get in to semantics. Needless to say it's made from stuff that you've already thrown away or grown, but you won't notice the difference.

What you will notice is the packaging. We don't normally talk about boxes and the like here at Pocket-lint as it's boring, however when you're talking eco it's important.

The box is made of 70% recycled cardboard. Eco enough. When the handset launched, Samsung and Sprint (the exclusive operator in the US) told us that they had dumped the paper manual to save trees. A lovely and pretty useful idea, except while that might be the case, that hasn't stopped them putting in five, yes five, other pamphlets in numerous languages into the box.

There is a Get Started guide (20 pages), a Features guide (16 pages), a Please Tell Us What You Think About Your New Phone guide (1 page), Important Safety Information guide (16 pages), and even a Subscriber Agreement (16 pages). They might be small booklets, but that's still a lot of paper.

Back to the phone and it's a slider design with a pull-out QWERTY keyboard. Priced at $50 in the US on Sprint, this isn't a state-of-the-art smartphone and you don't get a touchscreen interface or Wi-Fi.

What you do get is a 2.4-inch TFT (320 x 240 pixels) screen, which is bright and crisp, and landscape in design. Below that is an array of buttons for menu shortcuts and calling (7 including the d-pad). A circular d-pad centre stage makes for the main control interface and it's easy to get to grips with.

Slide out the keyboard and it's a tightly packed affair, which we found awkward and uncomfortable to use. The keys are too small, the spacing non-existent and the high rims of the design around the edge make it almost impossible to type without forcing your thumbs further into the centre of the keyboard.

Around the sides of the Samsung Reclaim you get a hot-swappable microSD slot (takes up to 32GB), Micro-USB connector for charging and data transfer, 3.5mm headphone jack with a pointless cover that will snap off within a week, and a volume switch that can be customised to do something else.

When slid open, you reveal the 2-megapixel camera, but there is no flash.

Rather than use Samsung's own standard interface, Android or Windows Mobile, the phone instead uses Qualcomm's BREW operating system. That gives you something that you'll probably not be familiar with, however that doesn't mean its all bad.

Applications are scrolled through from left to right along the bottom of the screen with further information appearing above it. All the usual players are here: web access, messaging, but some that you won't expect like MySpace and Facebook access. Pressing on the home icon takes you through to a more traditional grid menu to access areas such as entertainment and the camera.

Keeping in with the green credentials there is icon that will zoom you off to green initiatives you can sign-up to make a difference - all powered by Sprint. Coming with GPS, you'll be able to sign-up for Sprint Navigation, while Google apps support built-in gives Gmail and search fans a direct access to what they really want.

There are further apps you can get, however you will be limited to those that are available on the BREW platform. Just don't expect anything out of this world.

As for browsing the interweb? It's a pretty low-brow experience. It's a WAP browser rather than HTML for starters, and with no Wi-Fi included you'll have to rely on 3G to get you want you want. As you can imagine web browsing isn't going to be this phone's strong point.

In keeping with the green "eco" element the charger will apparently use 12 times less power than standard chargers and will alert the user when the device is fully charged.

Verdict

The Samsung Reclaim for us is a step in the right direction, but when push comes to shove, it's unlikely to bend you away from the handset you've got currently.

Yes it does offer a cheaper solution, and yes you could run your life from it thanks to the email functionality and easy-to-use interface, however it's no BlackBerry Curve. The Curve might not be as "eco friendly" it will give you greater usability and options.

While we liked the refreshing approach, and almost netphone-like qualities of the dinky Samsung Reclaim, we ultimately found the QWERTY keyboard just too uncomfortable to use, the browser lacking, and overall just under performing.

Now where's the salsa?