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Review: Kyocera Verve for Sprint

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May 12, 2014, 8:00 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Kyocera still knows how to make a basic smartphone with a physical QWERTY keyboard, as evidenced by the Verve. This low-cost handset handles calls and messaging - though not much else.

Is It Your Type?

The Verve is a phone reserved for what has become a very niche customer: People who don't need or want a smartphone, but still want to be able to easily send messages. The Verve, made by Kyocera, is an old-fashioned sideways slider that has a numeric keypad on the front and a full QWERTY keyboard hidden away. If you're looking for a basic messaging device, the Verve is worth consideration.

Body

Kyocera dug deep into the history books - at least as far as cell phones go - to find the Verve. The device is a traditional feature phone that's all about providing physical controls. It's relatively compact, though the sliding form factor necessitates a bit of girth in order to accommodate all the mechanics.

The Verve harkens back to a time when a phone's physical design mattered far more than the software or apps. The sideways slider was a popular form factor as recently as five or six years ago. Stylistically speaking, the design is rather ho-hum. The word "verve" actually means enthusiasm, vitality, or vigor. The drab grays and blacks clothing the Verve are quite the opposite. I'd rather see some color - any color - to give the Verve some modicum of life. At least there are some white and chrome accents here and there. Questionable name aside, the Verve keeps close to Kyocera's DNA with its somewhat blocky appearance.

Kyocera sticks to medium-grade materials. The plastics aren't the cheapest I've encountered on a handset, but they are far from the best. The Verve feels well-made; all the joints are tight and nothing is loose or jiggly. It’s narrow and easily fits in the palm. The battery cover has a fine, diamond-patterned texture to it that lends a bit of grip. I can easily wrap my hand all the way around the phone. It isn't as pocket friendly as some smaller smartphones - due mostly to its thickness - but it’s still compact enough that it will fit most pockets.

 

Form Factor

Click a thumbnail above for a larger view.

The front of the phone is about half screen. There's a black bezel framing the display. Two soft keys run along the left edge of the display, which are meant to be used when the phone is open and held sideways. The control keys are a jumble and the numeric keypad is rather close to the bottom.

Kyocera could have done a much better job with the function keys. They are a hot mess. The D-pad is fairly decent, with a nice rim and good action all around. It’s chrome-colored and often reflects light. Everything else is a bit fussy. There are three keys on either side of the D-pad: send, soft, and speakerphone on the left, and end, soft, and back on the right. The send/end keys stick out a lot, so I found my thumbs hitting those buttons rather than the soft buttons quite a bit. This was pretty frustrating, as it often cancelled an action I was trying to complete. I don't like the configuration, but I'll allow that over time owners will get used to it. Thank goodness the travel and feedback of all the buttons is quite good.

The numeric dialpad is great. The buttons have a slight rubbery texture to them. Each button is clearly defined and has excellent travel and feedback.

The slider mechanism is quite good. It’s spring assisted, so once you open it about halfway the springs take over and pop it open the rest of the way with a satisfying "thock." Importantly, I'm able to open the phone while holding it sideways without the Verve jumping out of my hand.

As far as physical QWERTY keyboards go, beggars can't really be choosers these days. In keeping with the sideways slider form factor, the Verve's buttons have minimal profile. There is just enough shape to them that my thumbs can discern between the individual keys as they slide across the keyboard. There are four rows to the keyboard, with three rows of letters and a full row for controls and secondary characters. Its a bummer there's no dedicated row for numbers. I'm glad the keyboard includes directional keys, which really help when it comes time to move the cursor around the screen or edit text. There are dedicated keys for the period and comma, and quick access to "@" and ".com" as well.

 

Keyboard

Click a thumbnail above for a larger view.

The volume toggle is on the left edge the phone. It has a nice profile and is easy to use; travel and feedback are excellent. The same is true of the dedicated camera button on the right edge of the phone. You can double-tap the camera button to launch the camera even when the phone is locked. The micro-USB port is on the left edge and the stereo headset jack is on the top.

I had no trouble at all removing the battery cover. It peels right off. The battery is removable. There is no SIM card, nor is there a memory card slot.

The Kyocera Verve covers the QWERTY-phone basics in spades: it is compact and has a good keyboard.

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