U.S. Cellular will soon be getting the Samsung Galaxy S4, but not everyone needs this much phone. Some people just want to make calls and send the occasional text message. And while feature phones are becoming increasingly rare, there are still enough new options to keep you satisfied. Case in point: The $69.99 Samsung Chrono 2 doesn’t raise the bar for basic phones, but it’s good enough for simple voice calls. You can find a better phone if you prefer to text, but it’s worth a look if your needs are very basic.
Design and Call Quality
The Chrono 2 measures 3.79 by 1.88 by 0.73 inches (HWD) and weighs 3.6 ounces. It’s the same standard flip design we’ve seen for years, but has a solid, quality feel. The phone is made of glossy black plastic, with a grippy, textured pattern on the back panel. The rest of the body, including the interior, is the same sort of plastic but in a metallic red. There are two Volume buttons on the left side of the phone and a Camera button on the right. Samsung throws in a decent pair of wired earbuds that plug into the standard 3.5mm headphone jack above the Camera button.
The external 1.3-inch LCD features 128-by-128-pixel resolution. It shows you the time, date, network, reception, ringer, and battery life, though only right after you close the phone; you can’t trigger it on otherwise, which kind of defeats the purpose. The hinge mechanism opens smoothly, though the phone is too curvy and slippery to open with just one hand. Inside, the 2.2-inch LCD sports 320-by-240-pixel resolution. It looks decent when you crank up the brightness, but there is virtually no good viewing angle other than dead-on; it becomes hard to see when you tilt the phone even a little bit.
Beneath the screen are a number of well-sized function keys and a five-way control pad. Despite their size, however, I found it way too easy to press the wrong key. There’s no delineation between keys on the control pad, which makes it possible to trigger the wrong action. The number pad isn’t ideal either. Again the keys are quite large, but they’re so flat, and have such little distinction, that it’s easy to press the wrong one. Texting on a number pad is bad enough, but texting on a number pad that often misfires is flat-out frustrating.
In New York City where I did my testing, U.S. Cellular phones use Sprint’s network. The Chrono 2 is a 2G device with no Wi-Fi. You probably won’t use it much for the Internet, but voice quality is solid. Voices sounded clear in the phone’s earpiece, with plenty of gain. Calls made with the phone are also good, with decent noise cancellation and volume. Calls were fine over a Jawbone Era Bluetooth headset and the Nuance-powered voice dialing worked without a hitch. The speakerphone sounds good, but it’s not loud enough to hear outside. Battery life was decent at 6 hours and 47 minutes of talk time.
Apps, Multimedia, and Conclusions
Samsung hasn’t changed much about the Chrono 2′s user interface from its original incarnation. The main menu consists of nine different icons that link you to just about everything you can do with this phone. Oddly, the EasyEdge icon in the middle brings you to a separate menu with some additional basic apps, like AccuWeather and Pac-Man, that you can’t find anywhere else. The rest of the apps are located within the Tools menu, where you have access to an alarm, calculator, calendar, notepad, and stopwatch, along with a few other standard apps.
Web browsing is painful. The Myriad 6.2 Web browser serves up WAP sites, but it’s old and sluggish, and the 2G data connection doesn’t help things out. There is no built-in email or instant messaging, but if that’s what you’re interested in, you’d be better served by a phone with a keyboard, or at least a better number pad.
Multimedia support is mixed. The Chrono 2 doubles as a decent music player. There’s only 40MB of free internal memory, but the microSD card slot underneath the battery cover was able to read my 32GB SanDisk card. The music player automatically detected MP3 and WMA files on my card, and music sounded good over both the included earbuds as well as Altec Lansing Backbeat Bluetooth headphones. Oddly, the phone recognized my AAC files as ringtones, where I could play them back, but it wouldn’t let me play them through the music player.
There’s no video player or camcorder, and the 1.3-megapixel camera isn’t a big selling point. For photos captured outside, colors look a bit muted and details are sparse. Photos taken indoors are even worse.
If you simply need a phone to make calls, the Samsung Chrono 2 fits the bill. U.S. Cellular’s other flip phone, the Kyocera DuraPro, is much larger and more rugged, with a price tag to match. It’s a good choice if you’re clumsy, but doesn’t offer anything else the Chrono 2 doesn’t have. If you’re more interested in sending text messages than making calls, you’re better off with a keyboarded phone like the Samsung Character, with its roomy slide-out keyboard and responsive touch screen. The Samsung Freeform 4, meanwhile, has a BlackBerry-style keyboard, and slightly better multimedia capabilities than the Chrono 2.
|Service Provider||US Cellular|
|Phone Capability / Network||CDMA|
|Total Integrated Storage||40 GB|
|Screen Resolution||320 x 240 pixels|
|Dimensions||3.79 x 1.88 x 0.73 inches|
|Screen Type||TFT LCD|
|Form Factor||Flip Phone|
|Bands||850, 1900, 1700|
|Screen Pixels Per Inch||183 ppi|
|Available Integrated Storage||33 GB|
|High-Speed Data||CDMA 1X|
|Screen Size||2.2 inches|
|Battery Life (As Tested)||6 hours 47 minutes|
|Bluetooth Version||2.1 + EDR|
Copyright © 2012 Ziff Davis, Inc