What's Good: Great QWERTY keyboard with dedicated row for space bar, sleek design, and eco-friendly.
What's Bad: Placement of back and speaker keys are where you would expect the send and end key to be.
The Verdict: The Samsung Restore is a stylish, eco-friendly QWERTY. The send and end keys are just out of place.
I have a special place in my heart for QWERTY-equipped featurephones. At the end of the day, I'm a smartphone guy, but these devices are perfect for people that have no need for a data plan. On that note, the Samsung Restore, available at Sprint for $49.99 after mail-in rebate, can be placed on any of Sprint's plans (basic, messaging, or data). The Restore is touted as an eco-friendly device, and rightfully so - the box contains 70 percent post consumer paper and the device itself is 84 percent recyclable.
On looks alone, the Restore is my favorite featurephone on the market today. In a world where you have the option of "boring black" or "look at me purple," it's nice to see a professional looking device with a bit of pizazz (and for those who enjoy more color, there's a green version available as well). Inside of the box, you get the device, battery, AC adapter, microSD card adapter, 2 GB microSD card (installed in phone), and instruction manuals. The left side of the device contains the volume rocker, while the right side houses the 3.5mm headphone jack and the camera shortcut key. The microUSB charging port is on the top, which hampers the ability to text message while charging. Given the design, I suppose there's no perfect place to house the charging port.
The only logistical thing I would change is the placement of the back, send, end, and speaker keys. The speaker and back keys are where I expected the send and end buttons to be, and I still haven't gotten used to it. The optical trackpad is a nice touch, and has worked well so far. I really like the QWERTY keyboard on the Restore. It's crafted just like a regular computer keyboard, so there's no worrying about keys being misaligned or the "0" button being in a different place.
The Restore ships with Sprint's OneClick user interface, which I've always been fond of. While other carrier-installed interfaces are clean and easy to use, OneClick offers more in the customization department. That being said, it'll probably boil down to personal preference, so take a look at OneClick in a Sprint store if you're not familiar with it. Like other Sprint devices, the Restore is pre-loaded with Sprint TV, Sprint Music, and Sprint Navigation. The phone offers a 2.0-megapixel camera, and like any low-end camera, it's good for basic pictures. The Restore isn't going to replace your camera, but it's decent enough for shots on the go. The camcorder is equally basic, and good for the occasional video.
I've been testing the Restore in the Charlotte metro area, and overall voice quality has been good. In all of my test calls, participants told me that they could hear me well, and I had no challenges understanding them. The speaker is clear even in loud environments, and I connected a Bluetooth headset without issue. I took the device to a Sprint dead zone yesterday, and while calls were choppy, the three test calls never failed.
Battery life, though still under review, has been on par with other featurephones thus far. I received the device two days ago with four of five battery bars left, and have yet to charge the device. The Samsung Restore offers 3G connectivity, so browsing the internet and using programs like Sprint TV were flawless. The CNN mobile homepage loaded in 10 seconds, and PhoneDog.com loaded in 34 seconds.
Full review coming soon!