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Summer 2009

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Jun 25, 2009, 12:59 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Phone Scoop gets some hands-on time with a whole bunch of new phones, including the BlackBerry Tour, Motorola Karma, Nokia E72, Samsung Exclaim and the Sony Ericsson Satio.


Nokia's E72 was the best phone we saw at the Pepcom event. Truly a well thought-out and well put-together device.

Nokia E72  

The materials of the E72 are all top-notch. Everything about it feels solid. The back plate is made of metal and the the finish is a nice matte black.

It is just a hair wider than the E71, and this lets Nokia give it a slightly bigger keyboard. The keyboard of the E71 was fantastic, and the E72's is just as good. The keys have the same shape and feel, and because it is factionally wider, I found it a bit easier to type on. The camera module appears to bulge just a bit more than that of the E71, and we chalk this up to its spec jump from 3.2 megapixels to 5.0 megapixels.

The navigation cluster has been changed up a bit. I can't say it is better or worse than that of the E71, it's just different. The most noticeable aspect is that the shortcut keys to email, calendar, contacts, etc., have been made slightly bigger.

My favorite feature, of course, is the 3.5mm headset jack, which Nokia has wisely been putting on its E Series devices lately.

The one negative thing I'll say about the E72 is the screen. It uses the same 240 x 320 screen of the E71. Compared to the high-resolution devices that are being kicked out by the competition lately, the E72's screen looked downright dreary.

Still, in total, the E72 is a great follow-up device to the E71.


RIM was showing off both the Sprint and Verizon versions of the BlackBerry Tour. This new smartphone from RIM takes the best features of the 8900 Series Curve and the Bold and presses them together into one very solid phone.

Slightly bigger than the Curve, but noticeably smaller than the Bold, the Tour has a great feel in the hand. It is nice and light and easy to get your hands around.

BlackBerry Tour  

I particularly liked the keyboard on this device. RIM excels at creating good keyboards, and this is no different. The keys are the same shape as those on the Bold, just a wee bit smaller and more tightly packed.

The standard BlackBerry features are all present, such as the full 3.5mm headset jack, trackball, the BlackBerry menu key, etc. Both the Sprint and Verizon versions run the same software, which is the latest from RIM.

The screens look fantastic on both, which are bright, colorful, and large enough to make viewing Web sites pretty good. Since these devices will be shipping shortly, the products that we saw were final or near final builds. Quality was top-notch.

Given their good looks, worldwide roaming capabilities and reasonable price points, I think RIM is going to sell a lot of Tour's via both Sprint and Verizon.


Motorola last us spend a few moments with its latest QWERTY messaging and social networking device, the Karma.

Motorola Karma  

The Karma is an odd duck of a phone. It has a hockey puck shape with rounded edges. It fits well into your pocket, no doubt, but the weird shape makes it stand out when you hold it. It is wide and thick, and those with smaller hands may not be able to close their fingers all the way around it.

The slider works well, but I felt that the build quality was a bit off. There were lots of gaps and spaces in the seams where it seemed there shouldn't be. The navigation controls felt pretty good, though.

The Karma's keyboard is sure to get some people debating. The keys are highly raised numbs that are coated in a rubbery substance. The rubber keeps your fingers from slipping and sliding around the keyboard, but I felt the travel and feedback was total mush. It was wide and nicely spaced, but it just didn't jive well for me.

The Karma runs a proprietary Motorola / AT&T operating system. It feels familiar, and lets you do things such as place links to social networking sites Facebook and MySpace right into a dock that rests at the bottom of the screen. Keep in mind this are web links, not actual applications.

The Karma will certainly fit in with the younger message-happy crowd.


Sprint's latest dual-slider comes from Samsung in the form of the Exclaim. Whoa, is it a big and heavy phone. Dual-sliders, by their nature, have to be large enough to accommodate the three different pieces that make it up. That means no matter what you're going to get a thick phone. The Exclaim is majorly beefy. No doubt.

Samsung Exclaim  

Aside from its size, the Exclaim feels good, but not great. The weight was staggering. I was very surprised by how heavy it was. Both slide mechanisms felt well put together and showed considerable strength.

The numeric keypad was a little soft for my tastes. The keys didn't have as much travel nor feedback as I liked, and the "click" was barely noticeable. the full QWERTY keyboard was much better. The keys had a nice click to them, and were well spaced for easy typing.

The Exclaim runs Sprint's OneClick user interface, so you know what you're getting there. In brief, it's a phone for heavy texters who don't need the smallest phone on earth.


The other feature phone on hand from Sprint was the freshly minted LG LX370. As far as the LX370 goes, it's another home run from LG. It feels great in the hand, has a reasonably attractive profile and slips into your pocket easily.

LG LX370  

The LX370 had very good build quality. The plastics and materials were top notch. I felt as though a lot of care and attention had gone into its manufacture. The slider mechanism worked flawlessly and felt very solid.

The navigation cluster on the front had a good layout and feel to it. All the controls were easy to reach and had good travel and feedback.

The numeric keypad also felt good. The keys are spaced nicely and there's plenty of room to dial numbers of tap out messages without feeling cramped.

The LG LX370 also runs Sprint's OneClick user interface, and should be a good selling feature phone for the nation's third-largest carrier.

Sony Ericsson 

We were able to spend some time with a whole bunch of Sony Ericsson devices. These phones are all very early models, and none of them had working software. We'll reserve final judgement when they have units that are closer to production quality.

Sony Ericsson Satio  

The Satio (pronounced sah-TEE-oh) is meant to be Sony Ericsson's flagship camera phone with 12.1 megapixels on board. To be honest, this version of the device felt flimsy and weak. The materials were low-grade and some of the buttons weren't working at all. It's a fairly long phone, but is reasonably wide from side to side. It is very silvery and the screen was easily smudged. It will run the first version of Symbian Foundation Symbian OS, with Sony Ericsson features built in.

Sony Ericsson Aino  

The Aino (pronounced AY-noh) is a slider with a regular numeric keypad and a touch screen. This is a pretty thick phone, but it has nicely rounded edges. I liked the weight of it, and the slider mechanism felt pretty good. It is also what Sony Ericsson believes will be its flagship phone for consuming media. It can sync with the Sony PS3 gaming station, and even stream content from the PS3.

Sony Ericsson Yari  

The Yari is a more traditional slider and has a 5 megapixel camera and accelerometer-based gaming controls. It looks good, has a good size and weight, and I liked the feel of the numeric keypad.

SE Greenheart  

The Naite (red) and Greenheart (white) phones are both bar-style devices that aim to help reduce carbon output. Neither had working buttons and they were clearly models. The shape and feel of both devices was good overall.

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About the author, Eric M. Zeman:

Eric has been covering the mobile telecommunications industry for 17 years at various print and online publications. He studied at Rutgers Newark and University of Kentucky, and has a degree in writing. He likes playing guitar, attending concerts, listening to music, and driving sports cars.



This forum is closed.

This forum is closed.


Jun 25, 2009, 2:25 PM

Good news for the verizon tour bezel...

looks like big red is getting the stealthy gunmetal dark gray/black color vs the lighter silver which the sprint version was showing off.

the phone looks much sleeker with the darker bezel...imo.

I am probably going to change out the bezel color anyways, but it looks sharp.
Does anyone know when this will be available to purchase? My "New Every Two" at Verizon is up now and I was between the Blackberry Curve and Storm. I would probably take the Tour over either at this point.

When you looked at the pic did it seem like the Verizon version's screen was more blurry and not as colorful?
I've seen this term before, and I don't know what it is...

What is a bezel?
Big Poppa

Jun 27, 2009, 10:43 AM

MMS on the Sprint Tour?

Does the Tour for Sprint have REAL MMS? or does it have the same thing they put on the Curve? (Send MMS, but recieve PictureMail link?)

Jun 27, 2009, 10:05 AM

E72 Headphone jack placement?

Is the 3.5mm jack on the top of the E72, or on the side?
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