Verizon Holiday Phones
The Juke is more MP3 player than phone, and will certainly appeal to its own demographic. It is thin and tiny, and definitely skimps on features for the sake of style.
What can we say, the Juke is unique. It is thin and narrow, and has quite a little chin where its antenna is. It feels very small in your hand, and is easily concealed by closing your fingers around it. You can't say that about too many phones.
The materials are mostly good, though some aspects of the phone are a bit cheap. The most important of which is the click wheel used for navigation. We had a pre-production unit, and it was obvious here. The build quality just wasn't there and the click wheel didn't work as often as it did. Since that is the only button you interact with when the phone is closed, this is sort of a big deal. In the center of click wheel is the selector button. Along with spinning the click wheel around, you can also use it like a regular D-pad by pressing up and down on it. This produced more consistent results when navigation the menus.
You can flick the Juke open like a switch blade to reveal more function keys and the regular keypad. Because the Juke is so narrow, the keypad is absolutely mashed. Despite how narrow it is, the buttons were made to be as large as possible given the space, and this makes up for their lack of width a little bit. The keys themselves were smooth and offered decent travel and feedback.
With the phone open, you also have access to the function keys, and the send/clear/end keys just above the keypad.
The other real failure of the Juke is the screen. It is very small. With its tiny size, reading and interacting with the menus is difficult at best. Composing pictures, text messages or anything else that requires looking at the screen for a long time requires you to hold the screen very close to your eyes so you can see what's really going on. This is not fun. Your arm gets tired after a while.
There is a headset jack, data port (for sideloading music) and lock key on the left side of the phone, and volume toggle on the right. They were all easy enough to find and use.
It does manage to pack in stereo Bluetooth, but because it is limited to 1xRTT data, is not compatible with Verizon's V CAST Music store. This is an oddity for a music-centered phone. It makes up for the lack of microSD support with 2GB of internal memory.
The UI of the Juke is loosely based on the existing Verizon UI, but it is cut down terribly to the bare bones basics to accommodate the small screen. Menus are truncated and using the click wheel to navigate is downright miserable on most screens. Thankfully it comes with few features, and this cuts down on the size and number of menus with which you have to interact. In all, it takes a while to get used to using the Juke's combination of hardware and software.
The camera, in particular, is frustrating to use. It can only be opened and used with the phone open. Because the Juke is such an awkward form factor and because the screen is so small, composing and manipulating pictures is simply not fun at all.
The music application is somewhat better. It can be launched with the phone closed by pressing the center of the click wheel, or through the menu with the phone open. Either way, the phone wants to be closed in order to use the music player and tells you this if it is open. Once running, the music app uses the click wheel to scroll through the menus and make selections. It was fairly intuitive, but the click wheel made the operation a bit clunky.
The sound we heard from the external speaker was good and loud. Some Miles Davis playing on the phone was enough to fill the room.
The Juke is not going to be for everyone. But for those looking for an MP3 player with a phone attached rather than the other way around, it just might be the right pick.
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We also have a video tour of the Juke. You can watch it here:
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