Friday, October 27, 2006

UTStarComm Slice

First off, I'm glad that I have good relations with the guys in the local Wal-Mart connection center, where I got this phone for $48.74 plus tax...I had intended to return the phone after I reviewed it...and now I definately am going to return it.

You see, it is 0.3 inches thick. Yes, that's right, three tenths of an inch in thickness; I think PhoneScoop has their thickness measurement wrong because my handyman dad used a fine-grained ruler...and got around 5\16 of an inch as the thickness. It's a thin phone by any stretch of the imagination, and I think I'll probably carry it around for the next few days just to see how many people say "ooh and aah" at it. That's the pro to it. And that's basically the only pro to it. I still can't get over how thin the phone is...but at the same time I'm disgusted enough with it to take the phone back anyway. You might say that this phone is the poor man's SLVR, but I think you have to be dirt-eating poor to sacrifice as much as you do when you get the Slice. The phone is light too, but I think it feels cheap. But maybe I'm biased.

True, the phone is thin and black and has a keypad backlit to, at first glance, look like the fabled chemical-etched, metallic Razr keypad...but as soon as you touch the phone you know it ain't so. The keypad is decidedly plastic, and is pretty darn hard to press. Furthermore, the keys are close enough together that you might actually press two when you're supposed to be pressing just one. Why couldn't they use the real estate below the screen to give some more space for the keypad? No, wait, the Virgin Mobile logo is there...never mind.

The phone doesn't flex or anything like that under pressure, but yet it still has that cheap feel about it, despite UTStarComm's best intentions. The whole phone, matte or glossy, is a fingerprint magnet, except for the wierd keypad mentioned before. Yes, the phone has the right proportions for talking into, but for some reason I still don't like its whole aspect.

Maybe it's because of the relatively small screen. Then again, I shouldn't expect much for $50, but the screen just seems a bit smaller when it's bounded on all sides by shiny black plastic, and Audiovox doesn't, in my opinion, make good use of screen real estate. It has that generic feel to it, though with a Virgin Mobile twist...that characteristic teeny-bopper feel that limits you to four installed, loud-as-possible wallpapers and four preinstalled ringtones, three of them obnoxious voice ringtones. Ech. There's also a red\electro-blue LED on the front of the phone that is conspicuous when off and flashes when a call or text comes in. I'm left scratching my head why they put it there.

Speaking of ringtones, the phone does have a reasonably good speaker and speakerphone. And reception os OK, but doesn't stand out from the pack at all...though it does connect calls a wee bit faster than my LG 225. So if you're wanting a phone just for voice, this may do the job, but you'll have a heck of a time putting in numbers with the over-stiff keypad. The phone also packs vibrate alert into its small case, and the vibe alert is strong enough, but it isn't synched to the music or any such fun.

The phone has text messaging, and even has a progress display for when you're sending the message. But the user interface seems dreadful to me...not enough soopthing gradients or something...or maybe I'm just spoiled. Also, there's web. But I know people that could grow beards waiting for the pages to load in the Openwave browser. I was going to test how fast the 1xRTT data was on the phone by visiting such sites as GMail, but then decided against it...things went way too slowly for me to do that.

I don't know about battery life yet, as I just got the phone tonight, but I do know that the charger is pretty darn huge, compared with the models that ship with the likes of LG and Motorola phones. Maybe I'm picky, but this sideways wall-wart is a bit on the obese side, just as the Slice is emaciatedly thin.

Maybe I'm overreacting to the phone's keypad and stark user interface, but I come off with a felling that, even though this phone is paper-cut-inducing thin and cheap to boot, I'd rather go with something a bit thicker in exchange for better features and such.

My final verdict is that this phone, if you want a fashion icon on the cheap, may be fine for calling and maybe a text or two...and maybe, must maybe, for web in a pinch. But the keypad is a pain in the neck, and when you can get the Kyocera K10 with nearly the same features, bu for the size, for 30% of the price this phone seems like a pretty bad ripoff. Heck, you can get a flip phone, the Kyocera Oyster, for 40% of this phone's price, shipped to your door...and it's a flip phone!

But then again, to be fair, some people think that thin is in beyond all reason and for them this is a cheap way to go thin. Also, I need to test out battery life; if the phone turns out to last a long time I may change my opinions. But right now I'm mildly disgusted with this new entry onto the Virgin Mobile scene...if only because of the keypad and the fact that the calculator is only seven digits and goes down to only two decimal places (yes, I'm a math nerd)! But anyway, don't buy this phone from it from a place where you can return it if you want to buy it at all. And I'll have the rest of the review up fairly soon, meaning battery life and conclusions with battery life in mind! I've yet to put the $50 phone through its full paces, and so you'll see more info on it soon.


Anonymous said...

FOUR ringtones? My old analog Nokia 282 had more than that (and not annoying ones), and it is about nine years old! Why would Virgin sell a phone with only four ringtones in this market!?! Also, who cares if the phone is bendably-thin, aka easy to break?

What most look for is its ability to do what cell phones are supposed to, make calls and not sound annoying when they ring. If it is really so thin and small that you cannot dial numbers properly (and I would guess that it really is), than this phone will soon be $9.99 on the wally world clearance rack!!!

Anonymous said...

Even with the crappy phones, Virgin has one thing no other prepaid has right now... 7 p.m. NIGHTS!

Anonymous said...

Duh! 5/16 = 0.31 inches. Get a calculator.

Ian said...

I understand...and one of the beefs I had with the Slice is that the calculator only went to the hundredths decimal place. But, that aside, I was roughly estimating the thickness of the phone from experience, since it seemed that much thinner than the specs said it was. All said, it's a thin phone whatever way you look at it. And it'd be .3125 inches...without a calculator...

Kivett-Studio said...

ok i hit send on that last post before reading a little farther back in your i'm thinking i'll steer clear of the Slice and shoot for a vox8610.

Anonymous said...

Ofcourse they want you to buy more ringtones thats whay they give you only 4. Think about it this way, the old phones had tons of ringtones but you paid over $100 for the phone itself. So lets see you paid like what $5 a ringtone. Speaking of which, did you actually like any of the free ringtones that came with the phone except for the classic phone ring?
Disgusted is a bit harsh considering you just bought the phone, pressed a few keys and didnt find the layout as perfect as you would like it to be. For $50 it looks like a Slvr without all the worthless teenage bells and whistles that Motorola charges $285 for. Do I need to repeat it: $50!!! What do you expect.
Then again what value can we talk about here when the cost is .17$/min. Anybody sporting a CDMA phone (primarily Sprint and Verizon)cares nothing about value or has not been hit with an activation fee yet for switching a phone. Come to think of it, even the plans for CDMA companies are more expensive than from GSM providers.

Anonymous said...

Sorry but I have this phone and i like it. i don't feel that its particularly cheap looking and it dials just fine. maybe you have really big fingers. the keys are probably bigger than my royale was. the only thing i don't like is that its so new that a lot of the ringtone companies other than virgin aren't compatible yet. It is hard to pay some games on it too. Not a good gaming phone but a It's pretty cool and super cheap. It looks like a slvr to me. In fact i think its a little nicer but thats just me

Steve Brenner said...

I just got a "SLICE" two days ago, and I have already given it to a person that I don't really care too much for.
What a piece of crap! COME ON - VIRGIN MOBILE, get it together!!!!!

Anonymous said...

The keypad is actually a very thin metal. There are also scroll buttons on the side, which you neglected to mention, that allow you to flip through your contacts and menu options a lot quicker. The keys are too small though; they have a good width, but very little height. Texting isn't really an issue, however, if you're using T9 input mode. The LED light on the top corner is there because the Slice has a battery saving backlight mode. It doesn't stay on all the time (10 or 20 secs. or always on or off), so you wouldn't know if you had a msg without pressing a key to light up the backlight. And you can see it blink in the dark--good for bars/clubs where it's dark and loud, so you can't here the message beep. Of the Virgin Mobile phones available, this is a good value for the price. Sure, the Oyster is $20, but it's made be Kyocera (a big negative) and it's huge--twice the thickness of the Nokia Shorty. One negative you didn't mention, however, is the lack of accessories for the Slice. All you can buy from Virgin are chargers and batteries.

Anonymous said...

it's free now if you buy it with $19.99 worth of airtime XD