Thursday, May 24, 2007

Quick Look: Sprint Power Vision Phone UpStage by Samsung

I have been fortunate enough to be a part of the Sprint Ambassador Program to try out some of Sprint's latest 3G multimedia phones and services. For Phase III of the program, Sprint sent me the hyped-up, double-sided Sprint Power Vision Phone UpStage by Samsung.

Since I let my 6th grader son test out the Phase II handset, the Sprint Power Vision Phone Fusic by LG, I gave him a crack at the UpStage as well. He's the target audience for a multimedia handset and he needed one anyway for weekday usage. Hey, I'm cheap so why pay when I can use something for free?

The UpStage had mighty big shoes to fill as my son (and his friends) really liked the features and functionality of the Fusic. I must admit it was a pretty competent and nice looking phone.

At first glance, the UpStage does capture your attention due to it's unique double-sided approach to phone capabilities on one side and multimedia, predominantly music, on the other. However in daily practice, the UpStage is kind of a letdown. Here are my son's thoughts on the handset:

The Samsung UpStage definitely lived up to its description of a sleek, new concept for a music phone, but simple functionality was definitely over looked. For example, I don’t want to have to flip my phone over every time I need to type something. Also I experienced some bugs, one being that when listening to music through the headphones, it also plays out of the speaker. Another bug I found is that sometimes the phone jams up when receiving a call, rendering it impossible to answer the call.

The dual screens and touch sensitive scroll wheel were good ideas which I would like to see more of, but only after they have been rethought and done differently. Speaking of the scroll wheel, it did a good job of not imitating the iPod’s and being a fresh new concept all over again. Although, the button placement could be less awkward or less sensitive, I found myself hitting end way too often.

One good thing is the lush, larger screen, which definitely made SprintTV more enjoyable, but did not make the limited games and other content last longer. Finally, I found that the network connection to everything but the music store was unreliable. Once again, I would like to see Samsung come out with another phone that utilizes these technologies, but is directed towards a more diverse audience.

Content: 7
Functionality: 4
Reliability: 5
Looks: 9
Overall: 6.25 - Not bad
I have to concur with many of gadget geek junior's observations as it seems Samsung went for too much "innovation" and "wow factor" while overlooking the critical aspect of usability. It's just not a handset you want to play around with all the time. Case in point, my son took the Fusic everywhere to listen to music, play games, find content, etc. Now with the UpStage, if we go out during the weekends to shop, run errands, eat, etc, my son leaves the handset at home. Nuff said.

And from a carrier perspective that's not a good sign because you can't increase ARPU if the handset is not being used....