Samsung Alias 2 SGH U750 Review


25.05.2009

The thing that makes Samsung Alias 2 an interesting phone is the fact that the keypad changes its symbols depending on the way you use your phone. In addition to this, the call, video and music quality is good.
Although the idea behind the navigation is interesting, it does take some time to get used to it. Alias 2 does not have any Wi-Fi connectivity and the email is available only through a Web-based interface.

As a bottom line before we begin dissecting this phone, the Samsung Alias 2 is quite interesting, managing to bring fun to your messaging while offering you good performance. If you also consider the price : $79.99 with a 2 year contract and $50 mail-in rebate, it is not bad at all.

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The Long Story :

Samsung Alias 2 goes officially by the name of Samsung SCH-U750, but we will further refer to it as Alias 2. The “main course” of this device is the “E Ink”, but the 2 megapixel camera and the e-mail syncing support are not to be neglected.

The Design

When this flip phone is closed, it looks like your regular entry-level phone. With slightly large dimensions : 4.01 inches by 2.04 inches by 0.67 inch and a little more weight (4.34 ounces), the phone feels better in your hand that it might seem. The only color available is a dark gray.

All the information regarding the state of your phone and other basic information will be shown on the 1.3 inches exterior display that can show up to 65,000 colors at a 128 by 128 pixel resolution. The contrast, wallpaper and clock style can be customized but unfortunately, the short backlight time is not.

Below the display you will find a set of controls you can use to operate the music player without opening your phone. Other buttons on the exterior are the volume rocker, the voice dialing button, the power control and a lock key. The phone uses a 2.5 mm jack and proprietary charger jack format and a microSD card slot.

The 2.6 inches main display can show 262,000 colors at 320 x 240 pixel resolution and offers a good image quality. The interface is a variation of Verizon’s standardized design, with some customization options and a few themes to choose from.

Like we stressed before, the main attraction of this phone is the keyboard. The keyboard has an atypical shape, with the buttons changing their symbols depending on the way you have opened the phone. There is a layout for the horizontal mode and three different forms for the vertical one, with various shortcuts being placed on the keys that you are not using specifically in the application you are in. The symbols on the active keys change to their corresponding function while the inactive keys go completely white. All the keys are on a white background while the navigation keys are black, thus aiding you in finding them.

One thing about this navigation is that it does take some while to accommodate to, but once you do, you will definitely enjoy the experience. The comfortable feel of the keys aid you in that direction.

You can switch manually between modes by using a control. Even with the alphabetical mode activated, you’ll never get a “crowded” feeling. When texting you will have to change between the alphabetical and the punctuation mode, but it should not be too much of a pain.

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The Features

Alias 2 can memorize up to 1,000 contacts and includes a virbration mode, a calculator, calendar and other basic functions. Though it is not a smartphone, there are some functions you won’t expect of its price range: stereo Bluetooth, USB mass storage and a file manager are some of them. Wi-Fi connectivity is not offered, and it’s a pity since it would make the Alias 2 a great messaging phone. Alias 2 comes with full support for Verizon’s 3G services. The music player is pretty basic, but it gets the job done.

The 2 megapixel optical sensor mounted on Alias 2 can take pictures in five different resolutions and in 3 quality settings. It offers all the functions you would expect in a phone, while the lack of a flash is not something we usually expect in a 2 megapixel phone. The overall quality of the photos is good, with great colors and little background noise.

The camcorder has two quality settings and basically the same edition options as with the photo mode. The MMS clips will be limited to only 30 seconds while normal clips are limited by the free memory. And, speaking of memory, Alias 2 has 100 MB of internal memory, but you can expand that to up to 18GB using a microSD card.

A minor disadvantage is that you cannot use your music files as ringtones, but this is slightly compensated by the fact that you can download some from Verizon. The WAP 2.0 Web browser can also be used to download additional applications.

The GPS radio can be used with the VZ Navigator GPS service from Verizon, but you will have to pay $2.99 / day for that.

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The Performance

Given the proper signal, you should get little static and background noise as Alias 2 offers a good overall call quality in most environments, although there are some reports of occasional robotic-like sound. The speakerphone has a loud volume with decent quality.

Video streaming is decent, with some pixelation but with good speed, audio-video synchronization and smooth experience overall. The music quality is also decent, but not great.

The battery will keep you talking for 5 hours and offers a 16 days standby time.

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