When we first learned of the Samsung Haven for Verizon Wireless, we thought it was a thick, boxy brick of a senior phone. Since then, we've come to better appreciate its usability charms. In the spectrum of cell phones geared toward the silver-haired set, the Haven sits right in the middle. It neither resembles a telephonic calculator like the Just5 J509, nor is it as tech savvy as the PCD CDM8635, with its 1.3-megapixel camera and hearing assistance features.
The Samsung Haven forgoes a camera--not necessarily a detriment--and focuses instead on making the calling features on this flip phone easily accessible. As with many senior phones, the Haven's large font and dialpad keys are desirable attributes, as are the in-case-of-emergency (ICE) numbers and shortcut buttons to key features. The phone isn't without its warts, which include mediocre call quality and some frankly hokey software offerings. However, $39.99 with a new two-year service agreement is a tough price to beat.
For a flip phone, the Samsung Haven is a bit large, at 3.92 inches tall by 2 inches wide by 0.72 inch thick. Yet, the phone's boxy solidity (3.49 ounces) makes it easy to hold despite a slick backing. The Haven is attractive enough with its dark gray exterior, black pinstripe accents, and muted black interior. Slightly grooved sides create a nice handhold for right-handers when gripping the Haven next to their ears. The indented spines also make it easier to open the phone. On the right spine you'll find the Micro-USB charging port. On the left there's a 2.5-millimeter headset jack and the volume rocker.
On the front is the Haven's 1.07-inch external display, which shows the time in large letters, and also the signal strength and battery life. You can illuminate the display after it fades by pressing and holding on the volume rocker.
The 2.2-inch display is bright and colorful, with a 176x220-pixel resolution and support for 65,000 colors. A large default font makes for easy reading, though you can further enlarge it. The screen shows the phone number, the time, and the date, and you can customize the wallpaper, banner, and backlight time.
As with many phones in this category, the Haven brings several features to the surface with shortcut buttons. Just below the display are buttons for voice commands, the photo gallery, and voice mail. The photo gallery shortcut is a head-scratcher for a phone that comes preloaded with a handful of images but doesn't possess a camera to take its own shots.