Samsung's product page declares "[n]ever before have you seen such a complete mobile office packed into such a small phone", and boasts that the A650 possesses "amazing networking and data management" packed into an extremely small and sleek "fashion accessory" design. How does the reality compare with this marketing hype?
There is no denying that the A650 is a neat little package, not only smaller and slimmer at 84 x 46 x 22 mm than most of its rivals (for example, the Motorola i830, Motorola V400, Motorola V600, Motorola V300, Sony Ericsson z600, Sony Ericsson z200, LG 6070, and LG 4600) but also a little more rounded than most (the Motorola V220, LG 4010 and Samsung's x426 are actually smaller than the A650, while the Samsung A660 is exactly the same size). As for being a "fashion accessory," this depends entirely on the social milieu. Among the business crowd, having a small silver flip-phone clipped to your belt is quickly becoming as vital as wearing a tie. If this is your milieu and your audience, then the tiny and conservative A650 will do you proud, at least for the next year or eighteen months. On the other hand, if you and your friends are the sort of power users who compete to be the first with the latest wireless device or capability, the conventional A650 won't score too many points. The same applies to potential buyers who pay attention to how their phone looks or which star has Swarovski crystals on their handheld: the A650 won't exactly embarrass you, but it won't impress anyone, either.
How about Samsung's claims of "a complete mobile office" and "amazing networking and data management"? Reading this, you might think that with the A650 you're getting something like a BlackBerry, only much smaller and cheaper. This is simply not the case. The A650's data management, web browsing and messaging capabilities are average for a cellphone: SMS and EMS but not MMS (so forget about attaching movie clips or sounds to messages); UP 4.1 (WAP 1.2) Web browser but no HTML (meaning you can view stripped-down, text-only Web pages offering information like sports scores, news and stock market updates, but not any Web page with images and multimedia the way you can on your computer); limited or no e-mail (again, don't expect anything approaching the full send/receive capability with attachments that your computer provides).
The A650's only real strength in terms of data handling is its support for BREW 2.0 games and applications (BREW is a competitor to Java 2 Mobile Edition, and most users won't find much difference between the two, either in terms of performance or availability of games and apps). BREW capability puts the A650 in the top half of recent cellphone releases, but lots of other models support Java or BREW as well, so this alone isn't a reason to choose the A650.
The A650's standard Personal Organizer (Scheduler, Note Pad, Alarm, World Clock, Countdown) is adequate for a recent-model phone, but again does not set the phone apart from its nearest rivals, and cannot compare with a true smartphone or PDA. Users should explore the possibility of downloading more advanced personal information management software from their service provider's selection of BREW applications.
In usability and performance terms, the A650 gets an average score. The bright color display is easy to read, and the keypad and navigation buttons don't cause any problems (this isn't something you can take for granted). Most users report that the A650 gives them good transmission and reception quality. Three omissions, however, make using the A650 less simple and easy: lack of an external display, lack of a speakerphone feature, and lack of Bluetooth compatibility. Many users who have flip-phones find they use the small external display all the time, to check who is calling before they open their phone, or just to see what time it is. Those who buy an A650 don't have this option, and will find themselves opening and closing their handset all the time, which may become annoying. To make things worse, unlike some other flip-phones, the A650 does not easily flip open with a flick of the wrist, so be prepared to open your handset with both hands, over and over again. Lack of speakerphone and lack of Bluetooth for hands-free headsets means that users who expect to make and receive calls while driving are strongly advised to think twice before buying an A650, even if the price seems right.
In the final analysis, the Samsung A650 single best feature is low price, especially when combined with a long-term contract from a service provider. If you are seriously considering buying an A650, make a list of when and how you plan to use your phone. Do you expect to take calls while driving, or in other situations where both hands won't be free? If so, keep looking. Do you need a built-in camera? Again, keep looking. Do you want wireless e-mail and Internet? Ditto. Do you expect to impress your friends with high tech or high fashion? This isn't the phone for you. On the other hand, if you want a cellphone with a bright, clear color screen that does the basic things you expect from a cellphone, plus runs downloaded software, then you will probably be satisfied with the Samsung A650, and you will almost certainly love the price.