There aren't any surprises with the Samsung Profile, an entry-level messaging phone for U.S. Cellular, and that's not a bad thing. The keyboard and design don't feel very modern, but they do have a homey familiarity that makes it possible for previous messaging-phone owners to pick up the Profile and go. In fact, with the exception of color and some of the finishes, the Samsung Profile is a clone of the Samsung Messager III, which just became available from Metro PCS. The Profile has a 2-megapixel camera with a higher resolution than the Messager III's (and the phone has a better name), but it offers most of the same core texting attributes. It's a fair deal at $39.99 after a $50 mail-in rebate and with a new, two-year contract.
We've seen this phone before. Although the Samsung Profile isn't technically a sequel, it is a kissing cousin to the Intensity II and, as we said, a near-clone of the Messager III. It's almost all black with a few gray accents, and has a rounded top to cap off its 4.6-inch height. The Profile is 2.1 inches wide and 0.6 inch thick. It feels about right at 3.7 ounces--not too heavy and not too light.
The Profile's 2.4-inch QVGA display (320x240 pixels) is about half the phone's total height, so it gives the impression of being large. While the default font isn't our first choice, the graphics look bright and clear, with straightforward navigation. There are settings to adjust brightness and backlight time, but not font or font size. Below the display is a navigation array that's adequate if a tad cramped. There are the Talk and End buttons, the usual two soft keys, a speakerphone shortcut, and a Clear button. In the center sits the four-way directional pad with center Select button. The dial pad has the scaled edges that help separate keys from the buttons below and above them, but with buttons much wider than they are tall, the keys feel overly narrow.
The Profile's bare chassis is smooth and maybe a touch slippery. The spines are adorned only by the 3.5-millimeter headset jack, camera trigger, volume rocker, Micro-USB charging port, and 2MP camera with self-portrait mirror. You'll need to remove the back cover to get at the microSD card slot. We give Samsung a thumbs-up for making the Profile accept up to 16GB in flash memory, but wish the phone had a slot on one of the spines instead.
Samsung appears to have two approaches when it comes to slide-out QWERTY keyboards. The first is a more compact design that leaves some empty space on either side of the lettered keys, and the second uses the full width (in landscape mode.) The Profile's four-row slider keyboard fits the latter configuration and follows the phone's curvature. This might be nice for those with fuller hands; those with more petite paws, however, may find themselves stretching to reach keys. The buttons themselves are domed (more so on the perimeter) and rise slightly from the surface. We didn't make too many mistakes, and response was fine. Still, we've used more comfortable keyboards. The soft-key functions for landscape mode are controlled by two oblong buttons on the phone face just below the screen.
The Profile has a 1,000-entry address book, with room to associate each contact with multiple phone numbers, an e-mail address, a caller group, and a custom photo. There are 22 polyphonic ringtones and a silent mode if you prefer peace and quiet. If ringtones are exactly your thing, many more ringtones and ringback tones are available through U.S. Cellular's online Tone Room store.
Like other entry-level phones, the Profile has all the essentials--a calendar, a memo pad, an alarm clock, a world clock, a calculator, a tip calculator, a stop watch, and a unit converter. It also supports voice commands, speakerphone, and Bluetooth and 3G EV-DO connectivity.