Back in December I got an email from Sprint asking if I’d like to try out a new phone and service that they are rolling out in North America. Half thinking it might be a way to get me to switch providers (I use Verizon), I read through the fine print looking for a catch. When I didn’t see any reason not to take them up on their offer for a free new phone and free service, I threw caution to the wind and signed up. The folks at Sprint/Nextel had read this blog and were interested in getting my input.
As a qualified participant, we will send you one Sprint Power Vision phone and provide you with six months of all-access service (at no charge). You’ll have access to the Sprint Music Store(SM) live TV broadcasts, gaming and more. Yes, you will also have unlimited free calling and data service. It’s a pretty good deal and all we ask for in return is your candid feedback (you decide how much and how often).
OK, I can’t be bought off that easily. I have been testing out the service for the past few months and will give you what I think of the service straight up. As you read my review, understand that I also am not a huge cell phone user. Sure, I use the things like anyone else and lived 10 years in Tokyo where the things are damn near an extention of your body. Yet here in the US I am bathed in wifi both at home and all over the Yahoo campus at work so see little need to bring up a small screen stream of the latest headlines except to impress colleagues or make a point about the future of mobility.
Read on for the in-depth review:
Sprint sent me a Samsung a920. In a nice touch, they went ahead and activated it for me and even had the phone number stamped on the outside so it was pretty easy to get up and running. I’ve got my existing cellphone autoforwarding to my new phone so I don’t have to carry both around but if Sprint really wanted to get me hooked on the new service, they would have figured out a way for me to either assign my existing number to this new phone (probably against some trade law somewhere) or provided a way for me to buy this number off them once the six months are up.
The phone is quite amazing. It’s a simple clamshell but they’ve integrated the antenna so you can slip it into your front pocket without hurting yourself. Other features include:
- 1.3 megapixel camera with flash that can also record video
- stereo speakers on either side of the hinge
- beautiful, high-resolution LCDs one on the inside and another on the outside
- buttons on the outside front to control the music player
- support for a flash memory card that fits into an adaptor so it can be read by a pc which supports the SD format. You can buy cards that support up to 512MB.
- support for Bluetooth (which I haven’t been able to get working)
- support for Sprint’s high speed “Power Vision” network for music and streaming video
- voice command technology (haven’t tried this yet)
I’m not sure if I’d pay the hundreds of dollars this phone lists for but then again, when is the last time anyone paid retail for a cell phone? The software on the phone is straightforward and easy to understand. I’ve heard that the T9 adaptive text entry software is a bit wonky but haven’t had any trouble with it. Overall, high marks for the phone, you can read more below.
The real wow factor is the ability to stream live television over the Sprint Power Vision Network and that’ll be the subject of the next review.