capsule review

Sprint Power Vision M610 by Samsung

At a Glance
  • Samsung M610

Can a phone ever be too thin? Billed as the skinniest clamshell available in the United States, the $330 (with two-year contract) Sprint Power Vision M610 by Samsung is a hair shy of half an inch thick--when shut. Open, it's so thin and light (3.3 ounces) that I constantly feared breaking it just by gripping it too hard. Still, this Java-based phone's 2-by-4-inch matte-black case, small (0.8-by-0.3-inch) external OLED display, and bright, crisp, 1.8-by-1.5-inch, 240-by-320-pixel main display should appeal to thin-phone fans seeking an alternative to the Motorola Razr.

The Bluetooth-equipped M610 supports Sprint's high-speed Power Vision EvDO network, which enables multimedia services such as PictureMail, TV, and the Sprint Music Store. Many of these services carry additional charges, however. In my tests, downloading three tracks ($2.50 apiece, or $5 purchased as a bundle from the music store) to an included 64MB microSD card took only a few minutes. The phone's tiny stereo speakers produced decent if slightly tinny audio, but the music sounded soft when played through the included stereo headset. The headset had uncomfortable earbuds that were difficult to keep in my ears; unfortunately, it attaches via a proprietary connector, so I couldn't substitute a different set more to my liking.

At least the headset worked well for voice calls. I also enjoyed the way the M610 displayed phone numbers in big, multihued numerals that looked as if they were on a theater marquee. What I didn't like was the disappointing battery life: just 3 hours, 22 minutes of talk time in our tests, far below the average we've seen.

Video clips (some free, others for pay) were a mixed bag. An Adult Swim cartoon that I downloaded looked fine, but a trailer for Casino Royale was grainy and unattractive. I was more impressed with the M610's built-in 2-megapixel camera, which captured sharp stills and images, both indoors and out. As a camcorder, however, it was only adequate--videos looked unevenly exposed and grainy.

The M610 lists for $330, which isn't bad for a stylish handset with a capable camera and EvDO support. Personally, though, I prefer my clamshells with a bit more meat on them.

Yardena Arar

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At a Glance
  • This superthin, multimedia-oriented phone speeds up downloads, but playback isn't always satisfying.


    • Sleek, superslim design


    • Headset has mediocre sound quality
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