CTIA Fall 2008
The Virgin Shuttle is from PCD, formerly a division of UTStarcom, but now on their own. The Shuttle was first shown off at CES as the CDM-8965. Like all PCD phones, it's technically manufactured by someone else, in this case Pantech.
The Shuttle is the first Virgin Mobile device that can access 3G data networks, which also means it can use 3G services. This phone was developed by Virgin Mobile, and not Helio, but it can access some of Helio's features, such as Buddy Beacon. According to the Virgin Mobile USA reps we spoke to, more of Helio's services will become available to the Shuttle over time. But how does the hardware rate?
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Well, it feels pretty solid. The back has a nice soft-touch paint job and the size of the phone lets it rest comfortably in your hand. The slider mechanism feels nice and sturdy, and there is very little side-to-side wiggle with the phone open or closed.
The navigation controls feature a D-pad in the center, surrounded by two physical buttons, the send/end keys, and four touch sensitive buttons. The D-pad buttons feel good, but the four soft touch keys are easily pressed by accident. I found myself making all sorts of mistakes by brushing my finger against the wrong button at the wrong time. It takes a little bit of getting used to.
The "haptic" feedback on the touch keys is also odd. There's a bit of a delay, and it's more of a violent vibration then a gentle physical acknowledgement like on other phones with haptic touch feedback.
The hatches covering the data/charging and microSD ports were easily opened. I had a bit of trouble getting the hatch off of the 2.5mm headset jack. The volume toggle on the left side of the phone was easy to find and use, no issues there. The speaker key was a bit more difficult to find, but travel and feedback were good.
On the right side of the phone is the camera key and music key. They are placed right next to one another. It was difficult to tell one from the other. I imagine it could be easy to accidentally press one when you meant to press the other.
They standard numeric keypad felt great to use. The keys have a nice soft touch rubber coating on them, and are convex enough that you can easily tell them apart as you move your thumb across them. All of the buttons had good travel and feedback. The build quality felt good here.
The menu system of the phone is the standard Virgin Mobile menu. We tested out the 3G data speeds, and the Shuttle performed well. Web pages loaded in a snap.
In all, the Shuttle is a very good option for Virgin's pre-paid customers.
We were able to shoot some video of it. Check it out: