What's Good: Touchscreen and Full QWERTY Keyboard in Compact Body; Clean Menus and ?Croix? User Interface; 2MP Camera with Autofocus and Flash; GPS with VZ Navigator; Full HTML Browser; Good Sound Quality
What's Not Good: Touchscreen Can Be Difficult to Use, Especially Around Edges and Using Web Browser; Slightly Thick Profile; No D-Pad
Bottom Line: Samsung shrunk the F700 down to a cool, compact size in making the Glyde. The slide-out QWERTY board is handy and surprisingly comfortable given its small size, and the finger-friendly touchscreen is generally quite good (with a few consistently frustrating quirks). Glyde brings much of Voyager's flash to a smaller, simpler device, and is a fun new option in Verizon's messaging phone lineup.
Make/Model: Samsung Glyde (SCH-u940)
Network: CDMA 800/1900
Data: 1xRTT/1xEVDO rev.0
Carrier: Verizon Wireless
Size: 103.8 x 50 x 17.8 mm
Weight: 117 g
Form Factor: Candybar with Slide-Out Keyboard
Display: 2.8? Color LCD Touchscreen, 240 x 440 resolution, 262,000 Colors
Memory: 40 MB built-in, microSD card slot (up to 8GB officially supported)
Notable Features: Touch screen and side-sliding QWERTY board; 2MP Camera with Autofocus and Flash; Audio/Video Player with stereo speakers and VCAST streaming media support; GPS with new build of VZ Navigator Service
Ever since Samsung debuted the ?Ultra Smart? F700 more than one year ago, phone geeks in the US have been waiting for a US carrier to pick it up. The F700's combination of a full touch screen, Samsung's ?Croix? user interface, and a side-sliding QWERTY keyboard gave it instant ?Super Phone? status in the tech world. Though it's been a long wait, Verizon and Samsung have brought the F700 to the States at long last in the U940 ?Glyde,? But there's a twist: Samsung literally shrunk the F700 down in making the Glyde, turning it into a fashion-forward, high-tech device.
Did the shrink-job work? Yes, I think it did. Glyde is a fun, feature packed phone with a good touchscreen, very usable QWERTY board, and loads of features. Verizon kept the basis of Samsung's Croix UI intact and Glyde wound up with a clear, easy-to-use menu system built for its touch display. Glyde has its faults, and at 17.8mm from front to back it's a bit on the thick side, but all in all it offers a nice alternative to the Samsung Alias and LG's Voyager and enV2 for Verizon subscribers wanting a messaging phone.
Motorola bucked the ?Thin is In? trend with their latest handset, the Z9 slider for AT&T. This full featured device is a big, solid phone with features galore, and while some might be put off by it's (relatively) large size and heft, I kind of like it. The Z9's comfortable to hold and use and feels solid, with nary a creak or wobble to be found anywhere on its burgundy body.
The Z9 is a 3G phone with access to AT&T's CV video and Music Store options, as well as mobiTV's streaming ?TV? service. You also get XM radio access and AT&T Navigator location based services on the Z9, along with an onboard media player and 2MP camera with flash and video capture mode.
Is the Z9 for you? That all depends on how you feel about ?big? phones. It's not like the Z9 isn't pocketable, but it's definitely a little larger and heavier than those skinny plastic sliders that are all the rage these days.
Like I said, Z9's kind of a big phone. Measuring up at 114 x 54 x 14 mm and weighing in at 140g, it's a heck of a lot larger and heavier than other AT&T slider phones like the Sony Ericsson w850, which weighs just 94g, or just about one-third less than the Z9. But I kind of like Z9's heft. If you don't mind it taking up a little more room in your pocket or purse, Z9 rewards you with what I like to call a ?luxurious heft.? I never felt like this phone was going to creak, give, or otherwise break on me, and there was plenty of room between buttons and on the display. It's like driving a big luxury car - once you learn to embrace the size, you dwell in the security and comfort of all that length and weight. And I never worried about the Z9 getting dinged or possibly breaking if I dropped it - it's pretty solid and durable.
I liked the glossy burgundy finish of the Z9, though it proved to be a real fingerprint magnet. The front panel is dominated by the 2.4? display and control array, which features a circular D-Pad that's ringed by a raised ridge of silver plastic that provides good tactile feedback. Flanking the D-Pad are six buttons: Two softkeys, and dedicated buttons for AT&T's Media Mall, Back, Send, and Hang-Up/Power. Motorola chose to use fairly tiny little raised circles for these buttons and the 12 keys on the dialing pad, but I had no problems using them. The little silver dots are raised just enough to be easily found in the dark with a thumb, but are also mounted close enough to the phone's surface to make it easy to mash on them. I may not be the world's fastest texter but the Z9's keys didn't slow me down at all.
MOTO and AT&T filled the Z9 up with features galore, including Opera for Web browsing, a media player backed by a microSD memory card slot, and access to almost all of the carrier's multimedia services including Mobile Email and IM, CV Video, MobiTV, XM Radio, and AT&T's music store. A built-in A-GPS chip there's also a 2MP camera with flash and video capture mode that turned out pretty decent images - a little better than your average cameraphone with the added benefit of the flash for shooting close-range photos in the dark.
When I first held Glyde I was really taken with how small it felt. Granted it's fairly thick, but it really felt much more like a ?regular phone? than a messaging phone with a sliding ? that is, ?glyding? ? keyboard hidden under its display. Glyde's rounded corners, deep blue glossy plastic body, and chromed plastic accents give it a fun-meets-high tech look, and its size makes it easy to hold and use with either one hand on the touchscreen or both thumbs on the keyboard.
Glyde's front panel is dominated by a 2.8? touchscreen with a single button - the Home key - below and the speaker above. The panel slides sideways to reveal a full QWERTY board with small but surprisingly comfortable backlit buttons finished in black on a black background bordered by a chrome strip with rounded corners. The look says High-Tech Fun, and I really think Samsung did a great job packing a QWERTY board into Glyde without making it geeky looking.
Along the edges of the handset you?ll find plastic-capped headphone and charger jacks, a button for lock/power, a rocker switch for volume/zoom, and another button that activates the camera. The back panel houses the camera's lens, flash, and self portrait mirror, and sliding the panel off gains access to the microSD card slot and battery. While you do have to remove the back panel to get to the memory card, it's not hidden behind the battery and so is still hot-swappable.
What's neat about Glyde is that it feels more like a phone than a smartphone or PDA when you?re holding or using it ? I found Glyde to feel smaller than it actually is, and so constantly found myself thinking, ?It's so cool that they put a full QWERTY board in this cute little phone!? A glance at the spec sheet revealed that Glyde isn't exactly tiny - but it's still quite a bit smaller than your average smartphone, and is easily used with one hand thanks to the touchscreen.
Glyde is compatible with VCAST music and videos, including the VCAST music store, and it also came with the latest build of Verizon's VZ Navigator service, which works with the onboard GPS chip to provide location based services. The phone also supports mobile Email and IM, and has a full HTML Web browser which also works with Verizon's ?Optimized Web? service.
I tested Glyde on Verizon Wireless? network in the San Francisco Bay Area and was impressed with its quality of sound during voice calls. Signal strength was on par with other recent Verizon handsets I've tested, and calls sounded good with minimal hiss and static. The built-in stereo speakers work well for hands-free calling, and also were handy for watching and listening to video clips. Bluetooth worked well with mono and stereo headsets, and pairing was easy and reliable.
Glyde's touchscreen was something of a mixed bag. I had to change the display's touch settings to the most sensitive option, and once I did things worked pretty well for the most part. I was able to navigate menus, scroll through lists, and grab and drag my way around Web pages using a finger or thumb. I liked the haptic (vibrational) feedback when I pressed the display, and scrolling was the smoothest I've seen on any handset this side of iPhone.
Problems arose, though, when I tried to press buttons along the edges of the display. I had all kinds of trouble with these, and more often than not I either accidentally triggered the wrong selection or made no selection at all ? even though I swear I was tapping the dead center of the button every time. I also had a lot of difficulty clicking links and buttons when browsing the Web. Zooming in on the link or button using the rocker switch helped some, and the zoom itself was always quick and smooth, but I still found myself drumming my thumb over and over on the screen trying to trigger links. As cool as Glyde's touchscreen was some of the time, it was just as frustrating at other times.
That said, Verizon and Samsung did a really nice job of merging VZW's menus and icons with Samsung's own Croix user interface. Navigating through various features and options on Glyde was clean and easy, and I liked the customizable ?My Shortcuts? menu as well as the home screen alert menu that provided status updates and one-click access to missed calls, new messages, and other on-time information. The Croix system added a little panache to Glyde's look and feel, and the pre-installed interactive wallpapers were fun, too (the Constellations one, in particular).
I also really appreciated the inclusion of auto-focus and a flash on Glyde's 2MP camera. The touch screen made it easy to tweak photo settings, switch to camcorder mode, and manage photos and videos stored either in the phone or on a memory card. Photos taken on the phone came out well, and the flash made it possible to snap shots outdoors at night and in dark indoor environments ? so long as the subject wasn't more than a few feet away.
Glyde features a full HTML Web browser, and while text and images looked good on the phone's 262,000 color screen, Web pages often took some time to render. Also, since the browser only works in widescreen mode, your screen is only 240 pixels tall during browsing which isn't much when you?re looking at Web sites designed for high-res desktop monitors. So while the inclusion of an HTML browser definitely opens up more of the Web to Glyde than you?d be able to see on the average handset, the phone is still better suited to quick information retrieval than heavy surfing.
Speaking of information retrieval, I really liked the new build of VZ Navigator that came on Glyde. In addition to the mapping, navigation, and local search services VZ Navigator users are used to, this new version also includes one-click access to movie and event times. The system uses GPS data to show movie times, concert listings, and other events in your area - handy for those, ?I wonder what's playing around here?? moments when you?re out on the town.
The Z9 is definitely one of the better cell phones I've tested when it comes to voice quality. I tested it on AT&T's network in the San Francisco Bay Area of California, and was really impressed by the clarity of callers? voices coming through to my end - and got a similar response from the people I was talking to. Chalk it up to MOTO's Crystal Talk noise reduction technology, which apparently works. Signal strength was above average as compared to other AT&T handsets I've tested recently, and the speakerphone was passable in a pinch if not superlative. I had no problems pairing the Z9 with a variety of mono and stereo Bluetooth headsets, though there's no headphone jack on the phone. Both voice calls and music sounded quite good over the Motorola S9 stereo Bluetooth headset.
One benefit of the Z9's size is that it affords a large display. The 2.4? QVGA screen was bright and easy to read, and the menu system - if not flashy - was clean and easy to navigate. Video clips played very well, with virtually no stuttering, and the phone also made for a handy digital photo album. I also enjoyed browsing through MobiTV's video offerings as well as AT&T's music store selections. XM Radio over 3G worked well, too, though paying double for subscriptions on radio and cell phone might be a bit much for most consumers.
I had some problems with the AT&T Navigator app, specifically when it came to acquiring a GPS signal. Sometimes I had no problems while others I got to around 95% on the status bar before the application hung indefinitely. Once the signal was acquired, the navigation app proved accurate and handy. But the signal issues were a bit disconcerting, and I couldn't find a pattern to them - they cropped up when I was inside and outside, and then the GPS would later work fine both inside and out. Very strange. I actually had some similar, seemingly random issues with 3G connections, though they weren't quite as pronounced.
Messaging phones are all the rage right now, but some folks would rather have a solid phone without a QWERTY board or all the complexities of a smartphone. Motorola's Z9 sits atop AT&T's current range of feature phones, offering just about every service and multimedia option you could want in a handset without delving into slide-out thumbboards and complicated operating systems.
The Z9 is literally a solid performer, combining good voice and data performance with a sturdy, attractive form factor. Though the Z9's large body bucks the recent trend of slim, light handsets, it also offers a reassuring heft that speaks to durability and longevity. The larger body also affords a more spacious button layout that makes for good ease of use, and a relatively roomy display that's easy on the eyes.
Though I had a few problems with GPS and 3G connectivity, the Z9 generally performed quite well for me, and its voice quality was amongst the best I've ever heard on a cell phone. If the big, strong body of the Z9 appeals to you, odds are you?ll be quite pleased with it. It's a good phone with tons of features made easy to use by a clean menu system and easy to mash buttons. And, hey, big can be beautiful - the Z9's deep, glossy red finish makes a sleek little number even if it's not really so little.
Glyde's a cool little phone, even if it's not really all that little. Between Glyde, Voyager, Alias, and enV2, Verizon now has four non-smartphones with QWERTY boards in its line up. That speaks volumes about how people use their phones these days - texting (and Emailing and Web surfing) is fast becoming as important to people as voice calling. Not everyone wants the power and complexity of a true smartphone, but more and more people want the ease-of-use of a QWERTY thumbboard.
Samsung took their uber-powerful F700 and shrunk it down to a more consumer-friendly size in Glyde. The F700's feature set was also trimmed, but only minimally, and Verizon was smart enough to merge their menus and icons with Samsung's Croix user interface, resulting in a feature-filled device that's still easy to use. Backed by both a touchscreen and a QWERTY board, Glyde offers a slew of multimedia and messaging features in a fashionable package.
Glyde's not without its faults, and the somewhat inconsistent response of the touch screen was definitely my biggest frustration with the device. When it worked well for me, the display was excellent - on par with anything else out there save Apple's iPhone. Unfortunately I encountered consistent difficulty triggering Web links and other buttons located along the screen's edges. I?ll be curious to see if other reviewers and users encountered similar difficulty and, if so, if Verizon and Samsung can make things a little better down the road by way of a firmware update.
All in all, though, I like Glyde. It's great to see handsets becoming more powerful and easier to use at the same time, and VZW and Samsung went one further here by innovating a little when it comes to form factor. Smaller than Voyager, sleeker than enV2, flashier than Alias - whatever you want to call it, Glyde brings a different look to Verizon's VCAST Messaging Phone lineup, and I?m sure VZW subscribers will agree that it's always nice to have choices.