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Samsung Upstage Cell Phone Review

A review of the two-sided, flip-flopping multimedia cell phone from Samsung

About.com Rating 3.5 Star Rating

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Samsung Upstage

Samsung Upstage

Image © Samsung
The iPod has changed the game as we knew it because of its simplistic, sexy design and “I need it now” marketing. On sheer principle, though, I despise the notion of having a cell phone in one hand and an iPod in another. This is the reason for this Samsung Upstage cell phone review.

The Samsung Upstage attempts to marry all that’s chic about miniature multimedia with its most natural lover: the digital phone. On some levels, I thank my lucky stars for several of its innovations. On some others, I curse the South Korean gods for injecting vexing technology for technology’s sake.
Sure, you’ll get most everything else you’d expect, including a decent camera and camcorder, voice recording and Bluetooth for short-range wireless communication with other devices. Below, your cell phone rabbi breaks down the phone that causes double takes into the points that matter most.

Design:
  • Pro: The second you remove this baby from its shrink wrap, you’re smacked upside the head with a very simple, but decidedly bizarre, concept: it’s a two-sided phone.

    I list it as a pro because sometimes it is, and when it is, it’s clear why. You’re jamming to its music and watching video on one side, and on the other, you’re simply calling and texting.

  • Con: On the other hand, I also list this two-faced nature as a con because at other times it’s also infuriating beyond reprieve.

    Certain basic functions often ask you to flip to the other side and then back. I’m not sure the goal of pioneering form and function was worth the price of awkwardness and irritation.
Software:
  • Pro: It’s elegant, colorful and loads in reasonable time. It’s organized so you can find what you need.

  • Con: How did the multimedia side of this phone ever pass software testing? While I can respect trying to be as arousing as the iPhone with a partial touch screen, let’s level with each other: It failed.
    Though I appreciate the botched attempt at letting me adjust the sensitivity of the all-powerful touch screen, it never reacts the way you want it to and ultimately serves as one of the phone’s nastiest qualities. For some, in fact, this alone could be a deal breaker. These should have simply been buttons.
Hardware:
  • Pro: The battery is a standout winner in this phone’s hardware department. Samsung knew full well energy consumption would be an issue with a device that sucks up so much from audio and video. That said, they’ve pleasantly made the battery issue a moot point.

    In fact, it actually gets better. A “wallet” (included for free!) serves this two-sided phone with a dual-edged benefit. It’s not only a protective case but it packs a second battery, too! Combined, the Upstage indeed delivers a rated talk time of up to 6.3 hours and listening time up to 16 hours.

  • Con: It comes with a 64-megabyte memory card. Though standard industry practice, it’s just obnoxiously lame. They’ve again trapped you into needing to buy more to store any decent amount of music.
Call Quality:
  • Call quality often isn’t an easy screw to nail because it’s not always clear if the phone or the carrier is to blame when this department goes awry. With the Upstage, though, suffice it to say it’s not a matter of noticeable alarm.
Multimedia Experience:
  • Impressive. While I personally don’t want to watch a 30-minute TV program on a 1.73” by 4.05” by 0.3” phone, that doesn’t mean you wouldn’t. Because this phone has access to Sprint’s high-speed data network, though, movie trailers are ideal. Also, the music experience is deliciously akin to an iPod.
Simplicity:
  • On the phone side, yes! The minimalism makes sense there and you can maneuver naturally. It’s the multimedia side that’s unnecessarily convoluted. Try playing Tetris. I dare you. If you can actually complete a game without it erroneously asking you to exit out, I’d want your fingers.
Price:
  • It’s snug squarely in the middle where it should be. You can find simpler, less powerful phones for less and smart phones with operating systems for more. For a feature-rich phone that doesn’t have a word processor, it’s priced just right around $100 to $250 depending on your circumstance.
The Bottom Line:
  • Thank you, Samsung. This is one-stop shopping at an affordable price. You can call, text, watch, photograph, record and listen all on one device – that is, if you’re willing to train yourself to maneuver some near-lethal landmines.
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