Review: Samsung Alias 2
The Alias 2 may not be the most stylish phone ever crafted by Samsung, but its functionality has been much improved compared to the U740 Alias. As far as Samsung flip phones go, it is a bit on the big side, but it's not ridiculously huge. It is a very solid phone, feels somewhat weighty, and is blocky in shape. It feels good in the hand, and build quality and materials are tight.
On the front face of the phone is a square-ish outer display, with three touch keys underneath. They work fine.
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Dual-hinge devices always worry me. I fret about the longevity of that hinge, given that it will be pushed and pulled in several different directions. I am happy to report that the hinge felt very solid. There was minimal play in the top part of the phone. Opening it as you would a normal flip, it popped up with a thud and locked into place. The same goes for opening it sideways to get at the QWERTY keyboard. It is easy to flip open either way, and feels strong once open.
The keyboard on the original was literally one of the worst QWERTY keyboards I've encountered. The new model changes that entirely. All of the buttons are large, well-rounded and have great travel and feedback. What's really interesting about the Alias 2, of course, is that the keyboard uses e-ink. This means the layout of the buttons changes depending on how you've opened the phone. When opened as a normal clamshell, the top most buttons morph into the navigation controls and soft keys, with the lower keys being used for the numeric keypad. Because this configuration wouldn't normally require so many buttons, the Alias 2 adds some excellent shortcut keys to fill out the keypad (toggle Bluetooth radio on/off, set alarm, send text message, etc.).
With the phone open sideways, the default keyboard layout switches and shows the dial-pad and other basic controls most of the time, and only changes to an actual QWERTY keyboard when there is a text field open on the screen. This changing configuration lets Samsung add lots of different characters and such that make typing fast. After using the phone for about 2 days, you get the hang of the changing keyboard.
On the left side of the Alias 2 is a hatch covering a 2.5mm headset jack (won't work with standard 3.5mm music headphones). Next is the proprietary data/charging port. Below that is the volume toggle, which stands out nicely and has perfect travel and feedback. Last on the left is the voice application key. This key is a little on the small side, but also has excellent travel and feedback.
On the right is a hatch covering the microSD port. Below that is a small hold key, which locks and unlocks the outer display. It is a little too tiny for my tastes, and travel and feedback were a bit mushy. Rounding out the buttons on the right is the power key. It is easily found, and has good travel and feedback.
The battery cover comes off easily enough, but unless you need to pop the battery, there's no other need to remove it.
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