Holiday Gift Guide 2008: Feature phones

Holiday Gift Guide 2008: Feature phones

Summary: I've now given you a Holiday Guide for smartphones and free cellphones so this Guide presents the best of the devices that are commonly called feature phones. With the power of today's feature phones, the line between a feature phone and smartphone is getting blurred so most people won't see much of a difference between the two categories of devices and I imagine there will soon be no distinction at all.

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2008 ZDNet Holiday Gift Guide

I've now given you a Holiday Guide for smartphones and free cellphones so this Guide presents the best of the devices that are commonly called feature phones. With the power of today's feature phones, the line between a feature phone and smartphone is getting blurred so most people won't see much of a difference between the two categories of devices and I imagine there will soon be no distinction at all.

The feature phone market is probably the most popular in the US due to the price, ease of use, major marketing campaigns, and performance of most of these devices as a phone first. I actually plan to try to review more of these types of devices here on my Smartphones and Cell Phones blog so please do let me know which ones you want to hear more about.

The marketing campaigns for devices like the Samsung Instinct and LG Voyager were pretty amazing and smartphone manufacturers could take a lesson or two to help them get the word out in the future. Like I did with the free cell phone Guide, I'll break down this Guide into the four major US wireless carriers since many of the feature phones are provided on a single carrier. As you can see in the Guide I included three of the best feature phones from each carrier for you to consider.

T-Mobile T-Mobile is the smallest of the four major U.S. carriers in terms of subscribers, but they also have the best rates for the included number of minutes and offer some unique services other carriers do not support (T-Mobile HotSpot @Home UMA service). They also seem to take the prize for best customer service and as a subscriber myself for over 6 years I can attest to their excellent service.

T-Mobile ZINEMotorola ZN5 ZINE

The Motorola ZN5 ZINE is the latest feature phone to hits the streets for T-Mobile and its main claim to fame is the 5 megapixel camera with Kodak Imaging Technology and Xenon flash. The ZINE also includes a Bluetooth radio with A2DP stereo support and WiFi. Photos taken with the ZINE can be easily uploaded to your Kodak Gallery via the WiFi radio and then shared with family and friends.

A microSD memory card slot is present and you can load it with music files to listen to on your phone. The ZINE also includes a FM radio for listening to your favorite stations on the go.

Price: $99.99 after rebates and contract [Read the review]

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2008 ZDNet Holiday Gift Guide

Samsung BeholdSamsung Behold

With the Apple iPhone getting people excited about touch screen devices, other manufacturers are launching alternatives to compete and give people choices. The Samsung Behold (SGH-T919) from T-Mobile is such a device with its decent 240x400 pixels resolution three inch touch screen display. The device also has a 5 megapixel camera, 3G support on T-Mobile's new 1700 MHz band, web browser, A2DP Bluetooth stereo support, integrated GPS receiver, microSD card slot and more.

A 1GB microSD card is included, you can use your voice to dial people, text and picture messaging is fully supported, and MyFaves is also fully supported. You can buy the Behold in Espresso (brown) or Rose (pink).

The Behold is very similar to the OMNIA form factor and uses a TouchWiz interface that really helps the device blur the lines between smartphone and feature phone.

Price: $149.99 after rebates and contract [Read the review]

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2008 ZDNet Holiday Gift Guide

Samsung GravitySamsung Gravity

Samsung also has a very reasonably priced device designed for the heavy texter. The Gravity (SGH-T459) comes in Aqua or Lime color schemes and has a form factor seen on Windows Mobile devices. When you first look at the phone it looks like a standard phone with a keypad and directional pad in the center. However, the front slides up to reveal a full QWERTY keyboard under the display and phone keypad.

A 1.3 megapixel camera, Bluetooth radio (with stereo A2DP support), microSD card slot, and software to let you manage your calendar and phonebook are included. This is a very reasonably priced device for those heavy texters in your family and you just may want to ensure you have an unlimited text plan in place.

Price: $49.99 after rebates and contract [Read the review]

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2008 ZDNet Holiday Gift Guide

AT&T AT&T looks to have the largest selection of mobile phones from any of the four major U.S. wireless carriers so I encourage you to visit their site or retail store to check out some of the devices they offer. I picked three of the newest devices to place in this Guide, but many others could just as easily have been included.

Samsung RugbySamsung Rugby (A837)

For those on your shopping list who are hard on their cellphones and tend to drop them and handle them roughly, then you may want to check out the rugged Samsung Rugby device. The Rugby is built to military specifications to withstand humidity, rain, vibration, shock, dust, and more so you can use this flip form factor phone without too much worry. The Rugby also supports AT&T's 3G data network for email and browsing. Push to Talk is supported and can be important for the field worker using this device.

The Samsung Rugby also has a 1.3 megapixel camera and Bluetooth 2.0 wireless radio. The Rugby is made for those who want a no nonsense phone that performs under adverse conditions and may be just what Santa uses this year to stay in touch.

Price: $129.99 after rebates and contract [Read the review (black)][Read the review (yellow)][Read the review (burgundy)]

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2008 ZDNet Holiday Gift Guide

LG VULG VU

One of the touch screen devices available from AT&T is the LG VU (another is the Samsung Eternity). The LG VU has a 3 inch 240x400 pixels touch screen display with support for AT&T's mobile TV service and 3G data network. A 2 megapixel camera is onboard to allow you to capture snapshots and video on the go. A Bluetooth 1.2 radio is also included for hands-free connectivity.

The device can also be used to listen to your tunes that are stored on the microSD card. A full HTML web browser is also provided for enjoying the internet on the road.

Price: $99.99 after rebates and contract [Read the review]

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2008 ZDNet Holiday Gift Guide

AT&T QuickfireAT&T Quickfire

One of the newest devices to hit the AT&T store is the AT&T Quickfire that is designed for the text messaging warrior. It looks a bit like a T-Mobile Sidekick Slide with a slide-up display that reveals a full QWERTY keyboard underneath. However, the front display is 2.8 inches and is a touch screen display so you can navigate with your finger. A microSD card slot is provided so you can enjoy music on the device or stream it via the high speed 3G data connection.

Text messaging and instant messaging (through AOL, Windows Live, and Yahoo! Messenger) are the real focus of the device. With teenagers focused on text messaging, AT&T also provides the device in three color schemes, silver, green, and orange so you can be a bit different. A 1.3 megapixel camera is provided for snapping some quick shots too. A Bluetooth radio is also provided for hands-free communications.

Price: $99.99 after rebates and contract [Read the review (silver)][Read the review (lime green)][Read the review (orange)]

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2008 ZDNet Holiday Gift Guide

Verizon Wireless Verizon Wireless is the largest U.S. wireless carrier, in terms of subscribers, and just recently aquired Alltel. They generally have some of the latest and greatest mobile phones and offer a large selection to choose from as well.

LG VoyagerLG Voyager

I know a few people that have the LG Voyager and couldn't be happier with their cellphone because it gives them a full touch screen large display on the front with a full QWERTY keyboard that is available by flipping the front up. The LG Voyager is quite a powerful device with support for visual voice mail, VCAST music, and VCAST TV. The 2.81 inch touch screen supports haptic (vibration) feedback so your touch is confirmed on the display. This phone has been available for about a year, but is still a compelling device.

A microSD card slot is provided with the capability for the device and storage card to connect to your PC via USB and act as a USB mass storage device. A 2 megapixel camera is also part of the device with capability to capture still and video images. A Bluetooth radio lets you connect to a headset for calls or headphones for music enjoyment without cables.

Price: $129.99 after rebates and contract [Read the review]

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2008 ZDNet Holiday Gift Guide

LG enV2LG enV2

Phones with QWERTY keyboards are popular with heavy texters and I know several family members and friends who enjoy using their LG enV2 devices. This revamped model has a slimmer design with larger front keypad and still has a full QWERTY keyboard found under the front face. Bluetooth is provided with support for wireless stereo music playing. A 2 megapixel camera and microSD card slot are also included on the device.

Verizon's high speed data and services (VCAST music and video) are supported on the enV2.

Price: $49.99 after rebates and contract [Read the review]

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2008 ZDNet Holiday Gift Guide

Motorola Krave ZN4Motorola Krave ZN4

A rather new touch screen only device comes to Verizon Wireless as the Motorola Krave ZN4. The ZN4 has a unique clear flip cover that expands the 2.4 inch 240x320 pixels display to 2.8 inch 240x400 pixesl when flipped open. A virtual QWERTY keyboard appears when text input is needed.

The ZN4 has a microSD card slot with a standard 3.5mm headset jack for music support. A 2 megapixel camera is included, along with support for Verizon's high speed data network and services.

Price: $179.99 after rebates and contract [Read the review]

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2008 ZDNet Holiday Gift Guide

Sprint Sprint was the first to launch plans that included everything (voice calls, text messages, and data) at one reasonable cost and they continue to promote their Simply Everything plans.

Samsung InstinctSamsung Instinct

Sprint and Samsung advertised the Instinct like I have never seen a feature phone advertised before with their sights set directly on targeting the Apple iPhone crowd. You can still check out some of the marketing on the Instinct Phone site. I've used the device a bit and think it actually is a fantastic phone with a nice form factor and responsive performance.

The Instinct has a high speed wireless data radio and GPS receiver, 2 megapixel camera, Bluetooth radio (including support for A2DP stereo headphones), and support for several Sprint services (NFL Mobile Live, visual voicemail, streaming music and Sprint music store, and Sprint TV). A microSD card slot is available for storing music and photos/videos you capture with the device.

If you are a Sprint customer and want an experience similar to the iPhone, with some better phone features, then you may want to check out the Instinct.

Price: $129.99 after rebates and contract [Read the review]

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2008 ZDNet Holiday Gift Guide

Samsung HighnoteSamsung Highnote

The Samsung Highnote takes some form factor cues from the Nokia N95 with a dual front slider design that reveals a phone keypad when slid one way and music functions (in this case stereo speakers) when slid the other way. This phone is optimized and focused on the music experience with stereo speakers, Bluetooth stereo support, standard 3.5mm stereo headset jack, microSD card slot and support for the Sprint Music Store.

Like most phones today, a 2 megapixel camera is also included. The Highnote also has GPS capability and more in a rather slim design.

Price: $99.99 after rebates and contract [Read the review (blue)][Read the review (red)]

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2008 ZDNet Holiday Gift Guide

Sanyo Katana EclipseSanyo Katana Eclipse

Even the flip form factor feature phones of today have high end functionality and the Sanyo Katana Eclipse is a powerful device with intergrated GPS receiver, Bluetooth radio, and music player capability even in closed mode. A microSD memory card slot lets you carry up to 8GB of music content.

A 1.3 megapixel camera is included for basic photos that can be viewed on the 2 inch display. The phone is focused on customization too and has exterior illuminating bars that can be setup to your liking to indicate different callers with different colors. Sprint services like Sprint TV, Sprint Navigation, and the Sprint Music Store are also supported.

Price: $99.99 after rebates and contract [Read the review]

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Topics: Wi-Fi, Hardware, Mobility, Networking, Samsung, Telcos, AT&T

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3 comments
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  • Holiday Gift Guide 2008: Feature phones

    I need a new phone. Currently have the original enV,
    not too crazy about the env2. The voyager sounds nice
    but if its a year old I'd want something a little
    newer. Decisions decisions.
    Loverock Davidson
  • RE: Holiday Gift Guide 2008: Feature phones

    The Smart phones and Feature phones links take me to the same page
    Goby
  • HTC TouchPro

    The Sprint HTC TouchPro came out recently, and I think it is a very capable WindowsMobile-based phone. The slide-out keyboard and the VGA resolution screen makes makes for a very nice device to be wirelessly tethered to the office and the Web... It's great if your company uses Microsoft Exchange for e-mail, calendars, and contacts.
    joechiu1