The "1-Minute" Review
A medium-priced flip-phone with a conservative look and a bright color screen. With the release of this model, Samsung seems to be re-focusing on the features that most users demand, and making sure that they get these right, instead of luring potential buyers with a built-in camera or stand-out style. The A660 is a sleek, contemporary silver handset that is quite small (less than 3.5 by 2 inches) when folded. Its 16-bit (65,000-color) LCD display is bright and easy to read, and the on-screen menus are clear and simple to use. Likewise, the handset's keypad and navigation buttons are sized right and backlit, and won't cause users any inconvenience.
While the A660 lacks big-ticket extras, it does come with a handful of non-standard features that users will appreciate. One is self-learning voice dial and voice-command menu: there is no need to record yourself speaking each name, because the phone gets used to your voice. The voice-command system can actually perform six different tasks, including dialing by phonebook entry name or by spoken phone number, and telling you the handset's signal and battery status. Another advanced feature is 911 GPS, meaning that municipal 911 emergency services who have the capability can trace your location when you place a call, even if you don't know exactly where you are, or cannot speak.
On a lighter note, the A660 also comes with a nice suite of entertainment extras like a WAP 2.0 wireless Web browser, Java (J2ME) games, customizable desktop wallpapers, 29 polyphonic ring tones, and an Airplane mode that lets you use games and applications in-flight without being able to receive or make calls (most airlines now require that you turn off your mobile so that incoming or outgoing calls don't interfere with aircraft radios).
One omission many users will notice is lack of an external LCD display, which means you have to flip the phone open to see who is calling. The handset does feature a red LED at the top that blinks when a call is received, and users also have the option of associating distinctive ring tones with individual callers, but these are only partial solutions.
Whether or not a user will ultimately be satisfied by the Samsung A660 depends on how much they pay, if they take full advantage of the features it offers, and if they miss the features it lacks. Depending on the service provider and contract, the A660's price varies widely, and the high end of the range overlaps with a few lower-end camera-phones from other manufacturers. Users who don't care about a camera, but make lots of calls while driving, or travel frequently by air, are most likely to be satisfied with this model.
Eric Johannsen's Review
The Samsung A660 was released in Canada, late June, 2004. This handset is a dual band, tri-mode phone (800/1900 CDMA 1X, & 800 AMPS) that is sold for use on the Bell Mobility CDMA network in Canada under the model A660, and on the Verizon CDMA network in the USA, under the model VI660. This handset was tested on Bell Mobility's 1900 MHz CDMA network and roaming on Telus' 800 MHz AMPS network in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. The phone is referred throughout this review as a "Samsung A660", but most of the information here also applies to the VI660.
Dimensions & Design
The Samsung A660 is similar in size to other clamshell handsets released today. The dimensions of the a660 are: 8.3 x 4.5 x 2.2cm or 3.3 x 1.8 x 0.7" (H x W x D) and it weighs in at only 99g or 3.3oz.
The design is basic, but elegant. The outside is quite appealing. The only thing it lacks is an exterior LCD screen, to tell you the time, and give you caller ID information before you answer the phone.
As I opened the phone, I noticed how sturdy the phone really was. It felt like a phone you could drop down a flight of stairs in the open position without it breaking. Although, I do not recommend trying that, for obvious reasons.
Inside, I noticed how nice everything looked. The 65,000 colour screen was bright and vibrant. The keypad was perfectly arranged. Everything was symmetrical. The keypad was designed well. The buttons were easy to press, and easy to find without looking. And, the menu was easy to use.
The phone was sturdy and didn't creak, or squeak when I squeezed it.
The thing that bugged me is that the screen had faint vertical lines down the middle, that were always present. They were hard to see, but still annoying.
Coverage and RF
This is a dual band, tri-mode phone (800/1900 CDMA 1X, & 800 AMPS) that will work not only within North America, but also in any locations that offer these technologies and frequencies (e.g., 800 CDMA in Australia and New Zealand). As mentioned above I tested this model on the Bell Mobility 1900 MHz CDMA Network, and roaming on Telus' 800 MHz AMPS network. The phone had an option to force AMPS, good if you're in a CDMA fringe area.
The phone had a noticeable tendency to loose signal before other Bell phones. The phone would show "Searching for service" where my LG TM250, Kyocera SE47, and Sanyo 8100, all on Bell, had service. This was annoying, as I couldn't use my phone in many areas of my neighbourhood, where other Bell phones had no problem.
Although the earpiece can become very loud in a noisy environment, the sound quality on this phone is very bad. The earpiece sounds harsh and unclear, even in full signal areas on the CDMA network. The phone had a constant faint hissing sound during all calls, on both the CDMA and AMPS network. This is the one of the many reasons I no longer own this phone.
1XRTT Wireless Data & Web Browser
The Samsung A660 is equipped with 1X network access. 1X is the CDMA-based wireless data network that competes directly with the GPRS networks on GSM networks. You can use the 1X data for internet and email by attaching a Samsung data cable to your laptop. 1X promises wireless data speeds up to 144 Kbps with 'always on' service. Similar to GPRS, 1X is always enabled and you are charged for the amount of data transfered, rather than the amount of minutes connected. As on most Bell CDMA 1X phones, a 1X symbol appears if there is a 1X network present.
The web browser, Samsung's own, was excellent on the A660. Fast, and formatting showed up perfectly.
From the fact sheet, this model should get up to 3 hours talk time, and 10 days standby time in CDMA, and up to 1.5 hours talk time, and 17 hours standby time in AMPS, with the included 1000 mAh standard battery, but I did not confirm those times.
I rate this phone below average. The exterior design is very good. However, using this phone for its main purpose, a phone, I was very disappointed with it. The hiss and harshness coming from the earpiece, the way it lost signal quickly, and the faint vertical lines down the middle of the screen, caused me to decide the phone isn't worth it.
Prices (Where to Buy)
Samsung released the a660 on June 6, 2004.
We've got you covered! Download a free PDF copy of the Samsung a660 user manual here.
Samsung backs up the a660 with a 1 Year parts & labour warranty.
If your a660 has problems and is still within its warranty period, you could contact Samsung support or the retailer you purchased the phone from. You'll find Samsung's contact information here. If your phone is off warranty and needs repair for a physical problem such as a broken screen or bad battery, you should visit an authorized service centre or a local phone repair shop. You can also connect with others in The Informr Community Forum to find and share answers to questions.