FIrst of all, this phone is a tad smaller than the 5225, and though the design is certainly different and requires a little getting used to it's a good design and I think it makes the phone a little smaller too. It has an internal screen maybe a tad smaller than the 5225's but the interface is still pretty well thought out, plus it has the Verizon-style "Grid" option for displaying menu choices.
It's fairly easy to record a call in progress, or record a voice recording, or record a name to use with the voice dialing function. Oh, and you can use voice recordings as ringtones, which actually sound passable. Speaking of ringtones, you can use 3gforfree to download either your own or someone else's ringtones to this phone, which plays them very well. The handset volume in normal mode is nice and loud, though not quite as loud as the 5225, but then you have the full-duplex speakerphone which picks up well above where the normal speaker leaves off and gets pretty loud before starting to clip.
As for the camera, it's VGA but the interface is pretty good with +/-2 EV exposure compensation and very good image quality, as you can see from my photos on this blog. Very good for a camera phone of course; I won't ditch my Olympus C 5050 just yet. ;) The camera does low-light surprisingly well, though the photos onscreen look granier and less saturated than they are on a PC screen or (I guess) in print. THe camera doesn't do video, and photos will be rejected if they're above 100k (phone won't save them) and at the highest quality the phone only holds 13 photos but hey, that's what the online albums are for...
When it works (STi is having problems with them right now) the 10-cent-a-day (web is 19 and web and pictures together are 29) picture messaging package is pretty good and pretty cheap. You get unlimited sent and received picture essages, which can also include a 15-second voice recording and a 255-character text message. So yes, it's cheaper and bigger than text messaging if you send or receive a few messages per day. You can also send picture messages from the online albums on your phone (hosted at plspictures.com) though for some reason the feature is broken right now (the whole picture messaging and albums function is broken currently). Uploaded pictures take a little while to display and pictures take a little while to upload or send but the service isn't agonizingly slow thanks to Sprint's 1xRTT network. It's just that you're uploading or downloading, if you selected the highest qual9ity and resolution on your phone, nearly 100k image files, and those take time.
The other component required for the online albums feature is [lain old unlimited web access, which the 225 does quite well. Pages load fairly quickly, even if they're bona fide, unconverted HTML, as long as they aren't too big. GMail Mobile works like a charm. Opera Mini won't run on this phone, but the included OpenWave browser is good enough so you won't be wishing for it at every turn. Oh, and 19 cents a day for unlimited net access isn't bad at all.
Picture caller ID, a self-portrait mode on the camera, and plenty of customization room round out this phone. It doesn't record video or play MP3s or radio, and the picture messaging service is shaky as of yet, but the phone is around $50 with a $100 rebate and all of its features work well, with great voice quaLity, good reception, and solid battery life. If you want a camera phone on prepaid and want full web access as well, this is much cheaper than the other offerings that provide you with these features (Boost Mobile, Virgin Mobile, Cingular) and the phone is solid, whereas I've heard that the Audiovoxes aren't so hot and we all know what kind of battery life those bulky iDEN phones get (hint: not much). So while this phone could be a little better, it's worth the price before the rebate, and worth more than the price after.
Oh and yes, you can get this phone for free with a contract, if you want to join the dark side. But I have a feeling that picture messaging and web will be more expensive per month, plus you've got that ugly two-year commitment. On STi you only have to stick around for 90 days by making a phone call every 60 for them to ship out the $100 rebate.