"Great phone with a few drawbacks"4.0 starson by mitchgroff
Pros: Great call quality (isn't that the most important?!), nice camera, best service
Cons: Front LCD doesn't stay lit and will only light with a 2 sec press of external button, Verizon junks up the menus
Summary: First of all, I want to start by rebuking some of the reviews by some reviewers who have wildly misrepresented this phone: the A950 really is a great phone. The MP3 player is not meant to be a substitute to your iPod by any means, and it could be improved, but this phone (especially for the price Verizon offers) is well worth it.
The call quality is excellent - far better than my LG VX6100. The antenna on the phone is internal, which is nice to have. And you're on Verizon's network, which is the best in the country. The only drawback about the A950 is that it doesn't roam on Verizon's digital network.
The MP3 player is nice to have, but again, not an iPod replacement. I love having an ultra-portable jukebox where I can play some of my favorite tunes when I can't use headphones. The tiny stereo speakers on this phone are superb.
The camera is grainy and not the best, but no cell phone camera should be a replacement to your regular digital camera.
I also like the picture ID stuff: when someone calls, the picture ID you take of them appears on the front LCD.
My biggest problems with the phone are these:
-The front LCD will not turn on to show the time unless you hold down one of the side keys for a couple seconds. I used my old phone (VX6100) as a watch, and the time was always visible on the face. I can understand why Samsung doesn't want the external LCD on all the time (battery!), but I would have appreciated an "instant-on" when a side button is pushed.
-The side camera button is odd. If you quickly push it while the phone is open, it does nothing. If you hold it for about half a second, it launches the camera. Hold it for longer, and it launches the camcorder. Very odd and took some time to get the hang of it. I use the camera often as my family and friends all have IN messaging and I send pix a lot, so I figured it out, but it's counterintuitive.
-You can't use MP3s on your phone as ringtones. At least not the ones on your playlist. You have to send snippets of an MP3 to yourself as a picture/sound message, and Verizon downgrades the MP3 to a proprietary sound file which sounds awful. Most will resort to paying $2-$3 for ringtones through GetItNow. (iTunes Ringtone Store, Apple? :-D)
-If you've used a Samsung phone on any other U.S. network, you'll be used to the efficient, smart menus that Samsung puts on their phones. Don't expect that same thing here. Verizon Wireless adds their own menu hierarchy, which is somewhat backwards and a pain to use. Also, as expected, Verizon wholly disabled Bluetooth functionality on this phone except for the headset. Won't affect many folks, but I would have liked to move files and whatnot via Bluetooth.
-Doesn't come with a belt holster in the box like the LG phones do. I had to eBay one to avoid paying $25 in the VZW store.
I got the phone on special, and it's a vast improvement on my VX6100. I would recommend it, but don't expect the world of the extra features. The phone might have been three times better if Verizon hadn't crippled it, but the phone works amazingly well on calls and taking pictures. Go buy one!