I've had both of Microsoft's new phones, Kin One and Kin Two, in hand for about eight hours now. Kin One will be available for $49.99 after rebate with a two-year Verizon contract starting May 6th for online orders. Expect the phone in retail outlets on May 13th. A $29.99/month unlimited data plan is required along with your voice plan if you want that on-contract price.
While it's way too early to give any sort of review of Kin One, I can tell you a few things after spending the afternoon unboxing, setting up, and messing around with the phone a little bit:
- The UI and software are different, that's for sure.
- If you don't like social networking, don't read any further: Kin is not for you.
- Kin's UI bests MotoBlur, at least on first glance. I also find Kin more visually arresting than HTC's Sense, but Sense seems like it might be a little easier (more soothing?) to live with on a daily basis.
- I like Kin One's hardware more than I thought I would after the launch event. While I still think I'd choose Kin Two over One, One is actually kind of fun in its own "smushed down Palm Pre" kind of way.
- Kin One's hard QWERTY board is pretty good. Again, think Palm Pre but slightly wider and larger overall. Pretty decent chiclet-style key action, too.
- The 2.5" QVGA display is small and relatively lo-res, but it's vibrant and responsive.
- There's no Calendar app. At all. Really? #FAIL
- There may be a Calendar app in a future system update. #HOPE
- So far I've yet to find a way to sync Google or Exchange contacts. Hopefully there is one. But right now the only contacts I can sync are those from social networks. #SHORTSIGHTED
- A 5MP camera, 4GB of storage, a 3.5mm headphone jack, WiFi and Exchange support reads like a pretty nice spec sheet for a $50 phone.
- $30 per month is a lot for a dumbphone data plan. Kin is one of the smarter dumbphones you'll find, but still: no user-installable apps.
- So far the Kin Studio backup system seems pretty cool. I like that it automatically replaces my on-phone photos with lo-res copies to save onboard storage space once the full-res versions are safely copied to the Kin servers. And it's good that you can share data, update contact info, and so on via the Web interface.
- I literally haven't had time to try out Zune on the phone, let alone activate my free Zune Pass trial.
Clearly it's time for me to get back to testing. Or maybe eat a popsicle, sleep, and then get back to testing. More Kin real soon. Stay tuned.