From the inside out, the UTStarcom CDM-120 is the definition of simplicity. Its black and dark-gray plastic exterior bears no markings, save for a Sprint logo and a LED on the front cover that glows when the phone is charging. The CDM-120 doesn't even have an external screen; in this regard, it's perhaps too bare for a lot of people, as it means you must open the flip to see who's calling. On the left spine are a volume rocker and a headset jack, while on the right spine is a charger port. On the bottom, you'll find an accessory port for accessories such as a USB cable, whereas an extendable antenna resides up top. The overall handset is compact (3.46 by 1.9 by 0.8 inches) and lightweight (3.2 ounces); it feels comfortable in the hand and when cradled next to the ear.
When the phone is open, you're presented with a 1.5-inch-diagonal internal screen that seems a little too small. It supports 65,000 colors, which is typical of most basic cell phones. While you can't adjust its brightness and font size, you can adjust the contrast and the backlight time. The default menu style consists of large graphical symbols denoting the menu options, or you can select a list-style display. We had no trouble viewing the screen indoors, but in direct sunlight, it appeared faded and washed out.
Below the display are the navigational controls, which consist of two soft keys, the contacts list, and the calendar. You'll also find a My Favorites folder that holds customized shortcuts to frequently accessed applications and a five-way navigational toggle that doubles as shortcuts to messaging,. Below the toggle is the Back button, flanked by the Talk and End/power keys on either side. Much like the numerical keypad underneath, all the navigational controls and keys are slightly raised above the surface of the phone, making for a tactile navigation and dialing. The keys glow with a blue backlight when activated, and the backlight time is adjustable.
The UTStarcom CDM-120 has a 500-contact phone book, with room in each entry for five phone numbers, an e-mail address, and a memo. Plus, you can assign contacts to caller groups or pair them with one of 25 polyphonic (32-chord) ring tones. Organizational tools consist of an alarm clock, a calendar, a scheduler, a countdown clock, a memo pad, a world clock, a stopwatch, a calculator, and a unit converter. Other features include six vibration modes, text messaging, enhanced messaging service for sounds and emoticons, four minutes of voice recording, voice-activated dialing, caller ID, and a speakerphone that you can turn on as you're dialing a number. The CDM-120 has 16MB of flash memory.
You can personalize the UTStarcom CDM-120 with a variety of wallpaper and a personal greeting, and you can display your calendar or clock as a screensaver. There are two included games: Board Mania (a snowboarding game) and Ace of Aces (a flying title). Unfortunately, because there's no Web browser, you can't download more games or personalization options.
We tested the dual-band/trimode UTStarcom CDM-120 (CDMA 800/1900; AMPS 800) on the Sprint Nextel network in San Francisco. Callers heard us loud and clear, and vice versa, though there was a little static in certain locations. The speakerphone had good sound quality as well. The UTStarcom CDM-120 has a rated talk time of 3.5 hours while it showed a talk time of 3 hours in our tests. It has a rated standby time of 10.5 days. According to FCC radiation tests, the CDM-120 has a digital SAR rating of 1.16 watts per kilogram.