CTIA Fall 2008
Samsung had two feature phones on display for Sprint, the Rant and the Highnote.
The Rant is a mid-range messaging-focused device that is similar to the LG Rumor/Scoop. It is a horizontal slider that has a full QWERTY keyboard for pecking out all those text and IM messages.
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The Rant is a sizable phone. It's long, thick and weighty. The screen on the front is generous, and looks good. The D-pad controls, however, were unpleasant to use. The navigation area is mostly flat.
In the center of the D-pad, the "menu" button is a large nub that protrudes far more than it should. It really sticks out, and gets in the way of using the directional part of the D-pad. On either side fo it are two similar keys for the speakerphone and backtracking. These keys are dashes that stick way up from the surface of the phone. They are also a hard plastic, and are just unpleasant to pass your fingers over. The rest of the navigational buttons and soft keys are flush with the surface of the phone's face, which makes these three buttons all the more noticeable.
The numeric keypad was decent enough and travel and feedback of the keys was good.
The slider mechanism felt very solid. Opening and closing the phone was satisfying. The QWERTY keys themselves were fine. We didn't have any complaints about them, but they didn't impress us, either. The keyboard provides ample room to move your thumbs about and type, and didn't feel cramped or squished. The screen automatically switches to landscape mode when the phone is opened.
The Rant comes with a decent litany of features, and for those messaging freaks that don't need a full-on smartphone, it is a totally viable option.
The Highnote is a dual-slider that is focused on delivering a good music experience. Slide it down, and you see stereo speakers at the top and the media menu pops up. The phone is on the larger side for a mid-ranger. It's narrow from side to side, but feels long. It has some heft to it, though not overly much.
The slider mechanism works well going both up and down. The spring assistance was nice and the phone pops open to reveal the numeric keypad quite easily. The keypad itself was fairly typical for a Samsung keyboard. It was roomy enough for easy dialing, and the keys had good travel and feedback.
The D-pad is a little bit of a mess. There is a ring of buttons surrounding the actual D-pad. There are five buttons on the bottom 2/3 of the ring. When you first use the phone, you expect that this ring is part of the D-pad, so you press it. This will not generate the results you're interested in seeing. These circular buttons are the two soft keys, the send/end keys and a back button. Remembering that these buttons are not part of the D-pad was difficult in the time we spent with the Highnote.
The D-pad itself pulls double duty and acts as a scroll wheel and standard D-pad. The scrolling mechanism didn't work as fluidly as we would have liked, but Sprint informed us that the builds of the One Click user interface and device itself were not final.
Other than that, the hatches on the side of the phone covering the 3.5mm headset jack and microSD hatch were easy to interact with. We didn't get the chance to really listen to any music through the stereo speakers.
We had a chance to shoot some video of both phones together. You can check it out here: