What's hot: Environmentally friendly. Very good Sprint TV performance.
What's not: Poor call voice quality.
Reviewed August 12, 2009 by Tong Zhang, Senior Editor
It’s certainly the right time for Sprint to release the Samsung Reclaim M560, an eco-friendly phone, when talking green is very fashionable. But behind the trendy talks by executives from both Samsung and Sprint, there are actual plans and hard goals to reduce manufacturing greenhouse gas emissions, use eco friendly materials and achieve recycling goals. For more green solution policies and initiatives visit both companies’ web sites. The Samsung Reclaim is the first phone in the U.S. constructed from bio-plastic materials extracted from corn and 80% of the phone is recyclable. In addition to the phone itself, the manual and packaging use recycled materials and soy-based ink. The phone’s charger has Energy Star approval.
The phone's box is made from recycled materials and soy ink!
Behind the green banner, the Samsung Reclaim is a very capable mid-tier feature phone that has a roomy QWERTY keyboard, GPS with Sprint Navigation, built-in Bluetooth with A2DP, a 2 megapixel camera that takes good photos, and a microSD card slot that works with high capacity cards. The Samsung also works on Sprint’s 3G EV-DO network and has great Sprint TV performance. This CDMA digital phone is exclusive to Sprint.
The Samsung Reclaim comes in two colors: Earth Green and Ocean Blue. The bright sap green and ocean blue are eye catching and good for making a statement (after all this phone is about making a statement). The 2.4” display has QVGA resolution and supports 260K colors. The screen looks reasonably bright but not very color saturated, as you will notice photos and video (such as Sprint TV videos) look a little washed out. The display looks good indoors but has some trouble in sunlight. The front menu buttons and the d-pad are large and easy to use. Slide open the phone to reveal the QWERTY keyboard. The keyboard is roomy and keys should be large enough for most people. The 4-row keyboard includes dedicated keys to launch the messaging app and web-based email as well as emoticons.
The Samsung Reclaim has a built-in 3.5mm stereo headset jack and a volume rocker on the left side. The microSD card slot lives on the right side of the phone along with the charging/syncing port and the dedicated camera button. The mono speakerphone lives on the back, and a phone charm holder sits on the top left corner.
The Samsung Reclaim has Sprint’s One Click carousel menu user interface. It makes for easy one-handed operation and you can launch most applications with a single click. The default applications on the carousel include messaging, MySpace sign in, Facebook sign in, Sprint Navigation, Google tab, Web browser and more. You can customize the carousel and add shortcuts to any of your favorite applications.
Phone, Messaging and Web
The Samsung Reclaim doesn’t have stellar reception, getting 1/3 to half of full signal strength in areas where Sprint has good coverage, though the phone has not dropped a call. The voice quality isn’t great either as it has strong digital audio distortion that makes voice sound muffled and muddy. The Samsung Reclaim has a contacts database that can store up to 600 contact entries with 6 numbers for each entry. The phone can also store up to 99 speed dialing numbers and it has voice dialing by Nuance. Press and hold the Call Send button to launch Nuance voice dialing and voice command software.
GPS and Sprint Navigation
The Samsung Reclaim has a built-in GPS that works very well with Sprint Navigation. Sprint Navigation is a subscription service ($9.99/month) that offers maps, turn-by-turn directions, voice guidance, location sharing and more. The GPS gets accurate position fixes and it’s quick to do so. The trip routing is fast and directions are accurate. The voice guidance is on target and the phone’s speaker is loud enough to overcome highway noise. Sprint Navigation can also check traffic in real time and has POI (businesses, gas stations, etc.) searches. Sprint Family Locator is also available for this phone.
Sprint TV and YouTube
The Samsung Reclaim has surprisingly good Sprint TV performance. The on-demand video clips have reasonable buffering speed and play very smoothly with good audio even in full screen mode. It’s a nice surprise because the Sprint TV performance was less impressive on some of Sprint’s recent smartphones that have more powerful processors such as the HTC Snap for Sprint. Good going on the Reclaim! Sprint TV services include TV programs, movies, music and radio, and require monthly subscriptions or a one-time fee depending on the content.
While Sprint TV works very well, YouTube video plays in a very small window. The Samsung Reclaim has a Google tab on the carousel menu and the Google tab leads you to Google search, Google Maps and YouTube. Launching YouTube from the menu will take you to YouTube’s mobile site. The site loads fast and videos buffer at a reasonable speed, but the videos play in a tiny window. While the videos play smoothly and audio is very good for mobile YouTube videos, we really wish the the phone’s player filled the screen. You also might get an error message the first time you launch the video, just hit the “retry” button and the video should load fine.
The Samsung Reclaim has a 2-megapixel camera that takes very decent photos. Still images look reasonably sharp with bright colors. There’s some noise since it’s a fixed-focus 2 megapixel camera phone, but the photos look very pleasant and balanced. Outdoor shots have good exposure and indoor photos have good color balance and enough detail. The camera software offers various options for white balance, effects, metering and includes several shooting modes including panorama, series shot, night shot and more. The Samsung can also record video with audio at 176 x 144 resolution at either MMS length for messaging or longer when saving to a microSD card.
The Samsung Reclaim comes with a standard rechargeable Li-Ion battery that’s 1000 mAh in capacity. The phone has better than average talk time, getting about 5.5-6 hours of talk time on Sprint. Watching Sprint TV and using Sprint Navigation are the two most battery-taxing tasks. If you watch Sprint TV frequently and use navigation with voice guidance, you should expect to charge the phone every 2-3 days.
If you feel guilty about not driving a Prius, here is your chance to take a small step in turning your life greener. For every Samsung Reclaim sold, $2 of proceeds will go to Nature Conservancy’s Adopt an Acre program. The Samsung Reclaim is a strong competitor among the sea of QWERTY phones and offers good multimedia, GPS and navigation as well as a decent web experience. Sprint’s One Click interface is a plus and the introductory price of $49.99 with a 2-year contract after rebate is attractive. We only wish the voice quality was better.
Pros: Presents a great cause, good Sprint TV performance, and smooth GPS navigation.
Cons: Bad call voice quality.
Price: $49.99 with a 2-year contract after rebates.