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Replaced my Voyager with this
on October 10, 2010
THE REALITY OF THE SITUATION (based on purchase in early August):
I have been a loyal Verizon user since 2001. My plan has me using a phone in the "3G Multimedia" class - it's no smart phone, but I get more use out of it than I would a "feature phone". My last phone was a Voyager - touchscreen with physical qwerty keyboard underneath, clamshell form factor, expandable memory (sd slot), capable of playing playing unprotected mp3, wma or aac audio files and 3G2 video files. I had been planning on moving up to the EnV Touch, but when that proved much more expensive, settled for this.
At the time, I was able to get this phone for $[...] (after rebate, of course). It's slimmer and lighter than the Voyager, and going from clamshell to slider form factor wasn't as difficult as I'd expected (all those bad reviews I'd seen for the EnV Touch didn't hurt either). The Reality plays the same media files as the Voyager with ease, and transferring media back and forth between the phone and a computer is fast and easy - no add-on software is needed. (If you get your videos in avi format, you'll probably need conversion software like Quick Media Converter to convert to 3G2, but that shouldn't be difficult.) In fact, all I had to do was take the card out of the voyager and insert it into the Reality and everything just moved with it.
Call quality was good in my area. dialing is easy, made easier by being able to quikly scroll through the directory of contacts (this was a slow moving chore on the Voyager, smoothed on this phone by being able to scroll through letters of the directory). No dropped calls...yet.
This was made easier for frequent contacts - the Reality doesn't just save your messages, but saves the last contacts you've either sent or received messages from. This makes it easier to respond or follow a train of thought between texts. On the other hand, the keyboard for the Reality is (unfortunately) clearly inferior to the Voyager - the buttons are spongier and more sunken in than the keys on my older phone.
Nobody in their right mind would have chosen the Voyager for its camera, and the 3+ MP on the Reality beats it. It's still no replacement for a dedicated camera (or one on a smart phone) but it takes decent pictures.
Touch screen and general interface:
Nobody will ever confuse the touch screen on either of my Verizon phones with the iPod Touch. the screen on the Verizon phones are cranky - they don't do what they are told to. You need to know how the screen likes to be touched. Samsung put a lot of functionality onboard, and that's probably more than the phone's feeble processor can take. There's a widget menu (pull off from the side) from which you can quickly check calendars, listen to music, look at pictures, check the weather. Don't like the widget you've pulled, just dump it back onto the widget menu. On-screen widgets don't move around that easily though, making it easy to clutter the screen up. Add to this the fact that your home screen comes with three wall papers and it's easy for your home screen to become harder to navigate.
Let's face it, the carriers want you to move to a smartphone, and they've probably decided that phones like this will be needed to remind subscribers what they get when they pay for a more expensive phone. While the phone brings up web pages quickly, navigating those pages is a chore. The weak memory of the Reality means that there's just so much your phone will display before running low. Scrolling can take forever, and just trying to zoom in and out is needlessly complicated - no "pinch & zoom" here. It helps to have a few simple pages to go to (weather, news, maybe your transit c carrier) but mobile surfing is out of this phone's league.
The reality of the situation is that the Samsung Reality is a great phone for users who don't want an expensive phone and plan. Once you kniow it's limits, it's very handy and reliable. While you may opt for a smartphone in your future, the Reality is enough of a multimedia device to make your standalone music player obsolete.