Review: Kyocera DuraXV for Verizon Wireless
The XV runs Brew MP and is configured just like every other Verizon Wireless feature phone released in the last few years. It's a basic UI that makes heavy use of the d-pad for navigating through the various menus and screens.
You don't have to worry about unlocking the main screen. When the phone is flipped open the screen comes on, period. The home screen doesn't offer much. You can stick a wallpaper of your choice there and slap a clock on it. Otherwise, all it does is provide access to the messaging center, main menu, and contacts apps thanks to shortcuts at the bottom of the screen.
The main menu is arranged in a 3x3 grid of icons, but you can choose to view it as a list or in tabs. You can also rearrange the items placed in the main menu, which is rather nice, as well as add/remove which items are shown. Once you select an item from the main menu, everything descends into lists and more lists. I dislike the lists and find them a chore to wade through.
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The only notifications you get are when there's an incoming call or message. The notifications are shown on the outer display when the phone is closed. If you have the phone open, notifications will interrupt whatever you're doing and must be dismissed (or answered) before you can continue.
I was disappointed to see only three themes available on the XV: black, steel (gray), and white. These are rather boring and staid. Other than that, however, you can do quite a lot to customize the experience to suit your tastes and needs. For example, the d-pad directions can serve to open whichever apps you want, and there are myriad wallpapers, ringtones, clock settings, and so on. The XV's lightweight menu system isn't the fastest in the world, but it gets the job done.
WIth actual buttons and send and end keys available, the XV makes calling a snap. You can assign favorites and shortcuts to the number keys, of course, and dialing in numbers is a cinch. It's nice to have dedicated buttons for initiating and cancelling calls. You can also answer calls by opening the flip and end them by closing the flip.
In-call options are fairly decent. You can mute calls or send them to the speakerphone, of course. But if you want to use a Bluetooth headset, you need to have it paired and connected before making/receiving calls. You can, however, take notes, send messages, and browse through your contacts while on the phone.
The contact app sucks. It's functional, but it's not user-friendly. Adding names and numbers via the numeric keypad is ultra frustrating and time-consuming. Your best bet is to save whatever contacts you have online and have Verizon sync them for you. There is a rudimentary search tool to help jump through your contacts faster, and you can lock/unlock contacts, as well as save them to the SIM card if you wish. There are a wide range of pre-programmed Verizon numbers on board to help you with your account. Each contact card can hold various numbers and addresses.
Feature phones aren't meant to be messaging powerhouses and that's clearly evident on the DuraXV thanks to its lack of such tools. There's a basic SMS app on board for sending messages, of course. It's clunky to use and requires a lot of button presses. There are no email clients on board, but the DuraXV does have links in the browser to web-based email services such as Yahoo!, AOL, and Hotmail. At best, these are an option for reading emails from your phone. (You can choose to download an actual email app, but it requires a $5 monthly fee to use.)
Then there's social networking. You'll see Facebook and Twitter listed in the menu, but these aren't real social networks. Instead, the DuraXV is using Facebook and Twitter's SMS tools so you can update your status or send a picture from your phone. That's all you can do; there's no such thing as surfing your news feed. (Again, the DuraXV is not a smartphone.)
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