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Lifewire / Andrew Hayward
Built to withstand elements
Has an app store with games
Won't have a network come 2020
Broken email app
Rattling cover lock
The Samsung Convoy 3 is a solid all-around flip phone, but with only months of service left, we just can't recommend it.
It's six years old at this point, but the Samsung Convoy 3 still delivers the classic flip phone experience with some ruggedized touches. The textured backing and port covers add some unique flair to a phone that's ultimately primed to provide the basics: making and receiving calls, tapping out texts with the number pad, and maybe a bit of web browsing as needed. It even has a functional app store that lets you snag some extra tools and games.
However, the phone shows its age in a couple of key ways—and more pressingly, upcoming changes to Verizon's network mean that the Convoy 3's functional time on this earth is very limited. It's not a smart pickup at this point.
The Samsung Convoy 3 has the size and heft of an average flip phone. It's pretty compact (but chunky) when folded, but then opens up to reveal the main screen and keypad inside. This phone has a more rugged allure to it, however, with a bumpy texture on the back casing and rubberized left and right sides.
Every port—from the headphone jack to the micro USB and microSD openings—is also protected by a cover that you can loosen for access. The phone isn't waterproof, but according to Verizon, it meets military specifications for dust, shock, and extreme heat. At the very least, it's better protected from the elements if you plan to use it while outdoors or at a construction site.
On the outside face is the external screen, which shows the time and offers a glance at incoming calls and texts, as well as easy access to settings. Three music buttons are below, letting you control your tunes without opening up the handset. And up top is the camera and flash, which can be used when the phone is open from the back or while closed to take selfie shots.
The textured backing and port covers add some unique flair to a phone that's ultimately primed to provide the basics.
There's a bright red Push-to-talk button on the left, along with the volume rocker and microSD card slot. The right side has the micro USB and 3.5mm headphone ports, as well as a speakerphone button.
Flip the Convoy 3 open and you'll find the meat of the experience with the main screen up top and the keypad and navigational buttons on the bottom. There's a directional pad with a center button above the number keys, along with the typical Send/Clear/End buttons, menu buttons, and dedicated buttons for the camera and voice commands.
There is one perplexing design feature here: a shiny silver lock on the back that can be rotated to the right to keep the backing panel from coming off. However, you can easily lock and unlock it using your fingernail, and the loosely-attached lock adds a rinky-dink rattling noise to the phone. It feels cheap and it's very confusing.
The Samsung Convoy 3 ships with the battery pack outside of the phone, so you'll need to remove the back cover and slot that in. However, there's no SIM card, so you don't have to worry about that. We activated our phone by calling directly from the Convoy 3 itself, but you can also activate it from Verizon's website.
The Qualcomm QSC 6185 chip in the Samsung Convoy 3 is several years old and not very powerful—but then again, it's not asked to do much here. Getting around the interface is a pretty speedy process, as you use the main menu screen to access apps, tools, settings, email, navigation, and more. It's built for the basics and executes them admirably.
Verizon's 3G network is used for the Convoy 3, which unfortunately doesn't support the newer LTE standard. Call reception was very solid in our testing, while web browsing was unsurprisingly pretty slow. The phone can't connect to Wi-Fi, so you won't be able to rely on a speedier home network or public hotspot for faster access.
The removable 1,300mAh battery pack in the Samsung Convoy 3 is a trooper. It's rated for 6.5 hours of talk time, but it'll last and last in standby mode if you don't use it much.
Both screens on the LG Convoy 3 are pretty common for flip phones in terms of general size and resolution. The 2.4-inch main screen is a 320 x 240 TFT LCD panel that's sharp enough to convey the text and simple graphics you'll encounter, and gets pretty bright. It looks a bit small on the phone, given the huge amount of bezel surrounding the display, but it works just fine.
On the outside, the tiny 1.3-inch TFT LCD square screen comes in at a 128 x 128 resolution. Given that it's intended for little more than telling time, showing a preview of messages and incoming calls, and letting you control music, it's solidly equipped for the tasks at hand.
Samsung's phone has a larger speaker grille than on most flip and basic phones, as it covers the bottom of the face below the external screen with two clear holes. However, the output still sounded pretty confined and tinny when we played music. You probably don't want to use a flip phone to blast tunes anyway.
The speakerphone gets loud enough to hear pretty well, although a person we called had trouble hearing us clearly when speakerphone was engaged. Without speakerphone, the call quality was solid on both ends, but not as clear as when using an LTE-capable handset like the LG Exalt LTE.
The 3.2-megapixel camera onboard the Samsung Convoy 3 doesn't snag particularly great shots. Getting a steady shot is a difficult enough task, as many of the photos we took had blurry elements, but you can get solid detail presuming everything is clear. However, photos typically have a washed-out look to them. Low-light results are rough without the flash, and while using it helps with visibility, it adds harshness to the results.
Video quality, likewise, is nothing special. The 320 x 240 clips are incredibly low-resolution and very fuzzy as a result. You'll use the one camera as both the primary and selfie shooter for both still photos and video clips. When the phone is closed, you can shoot selfies while looking at the tiny outside screen for a preview.
The Convoy 3 is set to be rendered useless once Verizon's older 3G network shutters at the end of 2019.
The removable 1,300mAh battery pack in the Samsung Convoy 3 is a trooper. It's rated for 6.5 hours of talk time, but it'll last a lot longer in standby mode if you don't use it much. Samsung suggests that it can survive for up to 450 hours on a full charge, which is nearly 19 days. In our mixed usage with a few calls, several texts shot back and forth, and some light web browsing, we only knocked off one of the four battery bars on the screen after three days.
The Samsung Convoy 3 uses the same BREW mobile operating system used on various flip phones and basic phones over the years. As mentioned above, it’s pretty fast and responsive here. The main menu is your primary gateway to the myriad features, apps, and tools on the phone, and it's not difficult to get around.
Unfortunately, not every service still functions on the aging handset. We were unable to get the built-in email app to work at all. Every time we opened it, the app would try for several seconds to make a connection before ultimately failing. That's a major blow for anyone who wants to get email alerts on their phone, or be able to send a quick response as needed.
Browsing the web with the included Opera Mini browser isn't a particularly enjoyable experience, as you'll need to slowly scroll with the pointer to highlight links and tap in URLs with the number keys. However, it loads pages well enough to be functional, in case you need to look something up while away from a computer.
Surprisingly, the Convoy 3 still has a functional app store that lets you download third-party apps and games directly to your phone. Granted, there's not much left in there at this point, and none of the premium apps seemed to be worth the money, but we grabbed a couple of free games and had a little bit of fun with them.
Nearly six years after its original release, the Samsung Convoy 3 is no longer available from Verizon or Samsung. However, you can find it from third-party and secondhand sellers. As of this writing, a new handset could cost you $140 or more on Amazon, while a used version sells for $25 or less. We don't recommend spending money on this phone at this point, given the short remaining lifespan of Verizon's 3G network.
The Samsung Convoy 3 and LG Exalt LTE are two of the flip phones you can use with Verizon, but the Exalt LTE is a much newer device. Web browsing is a bit easier on the Exalt LTE, the camera quality is improved, and the larger screen is nice. The Convoy 3 has the advantage of an outer display and also an app store, but there's little of value left to download anyway.
Ultimately, however, the LG Exalt LTE's biggest win in this showdown is a decisive one: it will continue to work into 2020 and beyond, while the Convoy 3 is set to be rendered useless once Verizon's older 3G network shutters at the end of 2019.
Don't Buy It Now
On its own, the Samsung Convoy 3 is a pretty good and durably-built flip phone that's ideal for calls, texts, and not a whole lot more. The much larger problem, however, is that the Convoy 3 can't connect to Verizon's LTE network or other carriers' 3G networks, which means there's very little upside to spending money on this phone today.