I've had both of Microsoft's new phones, Kin One and Kin Two, in hand for about eight hours now. Kin Two will be available for $99.99 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 Two, 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. Different from other mobile phones, that is. The UI and software on Kin One and Two are exactly the same.
- If you don't like social networking, don't read any further: Kin is not for you. I can't repeat that often enough. Your home screen is a wall of status updates and news feeds. This ain't for everyone.
- Kin Two runs the same chipset and has the same amount of RAM as Kin One, even though it has a larger, higher-res display and higher megapixel count on the camera. Kin Two does have double the internal storage as its sibling, though: 8GB vs 4GB of ROM.
- If I was gonna go Kin, I'd go Kin Two. I like the larger screen and horizontal sliding keyboard better. I even agree with the PR materials: Kin Two is better for two-thumbed typists (like me).
- The 3.4" HVGA display is bright and responsive. The UI looks really nice (whatever you think of the design) and multitouch awareness seems pretty decent thus far.
- 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
- 8MP camera with autofocus, LED flash, and 720p video capture is pretty nice. On paper. We'll see how it does in real life soon.
- $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.