AT&T introduced its new package of messaging services for quick messaging phones with Samsung's new QWERTY slider, the Samsung Strive. The Strive is essentially a replacement for the Propel, in that it's a straightforward feature phone with a slide-out QWERTY text keyboard. Unlike so many messaging phone, it doesn't slide out sideways; everything stays vertical.
Though some of the new AT&T Quick Messaging features were unavailable on this phone, the new threaded messaging was active and it looked pretty good. Threaded messaging gives a more conversational view of SMS text messages, and though most smartphones have had this feature for a while, its slowly trickling down to feature phones and the quick messaging category. The new AT&T Address Book and AT&T Mobile Share features were not available, but both provide cloud sync and upload capabilities for the phone's contact list and photographs, respectively.
While the Propel had a landscape display, the Strive has a portrait display. This has a few implications: the display is much larger, but it also needs to be a certain width to accomodate the QWERTY keyboard, so you end up with some unusually larger borders on either side of the display, and a rather bulky phone overall. The build quality seems good. It feels plastic-y, but solid.
It also looks so much like other touch phones that I found myself constantly trying to operate the phone by touch. If your last phone wasn't a touch phone, this may not be an issue. The display is only QVGA resolution, which isn't good for web browsing, but it is a large display physically, so it may be a good choice for those with less-than-perfect vision.
The keys on the Strive are excellent, including the front keys, side keys and the QWERTY keyboard. The QWERTY keys are very similar to those on certain BlackBerrys, like the Tour, but perhaps even a tad better. They have just the right amount of rubbery feel, and just the right travel and feedback.
One bummer is no standard audio jacks. No 3.5mm headphone jack; not even a 2.5mm phone headset jack. At least it has a standard USB jack.
The interface is standard for an AT&T feature phone. The camera interface is typical for a Samsung feature phone. That's a good thing. There's a nice toolbar that pops up with easy-to-use options to adjust camera settings. The Strive does support 3G data and video sharing; which is nice to see on a relatively affordable phone. If you're on a budget and need an AT&T phone with 3G data and a good QWERTY keyboard, the Strive looks promising.
The Sunburst is a strange phone. It's designed to bring a full touch experience to a new low price level. To do that, they've left out quite a bit, including 3G data.
The Sunburst feels very small and light, although we wish it were a tad thinner. Build quality feels good, although being so light, some might think it feels a bit cheap. The display is decent; the touch sensor is resisitive, and decent. The buttons below the display and on the side are all excellent. There are no standard connectors of any kind, for audio, charging, data... nada. It's like a step back in time to find just a lone, proprietary Samsung connector, but that's exactly what you'll find on the Sunburst. It's unfortunate.
The interface is just neither sluggish nor speedy. While many cheaper touch phones struggle with scrolling lists, this is one area where the Sunburst seems to excel, and we're glad to see that. It has an older version of TouchWiz on the home screen, and standard lists for the rest of the menus. The music player is from AT&T, and not very good. The camera interface is a bright spot, though; it has Samsung's nice touch camera interface with translucent options down the side of the viewfinder.
If you must have the absolutely cheapest possible touch phone, and don't mind the lack of 3G data, there were no obvious deal-breakers on the Sunburst. It could be a decent choice for certain users.
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