I got a chance to play with the new Voyager smartphone (a.k.a LG VX10000) from Verizon Wireless last night. For the unfamiliar, Voyager is the hot new "iPhone killer" from VZW that's in high demand and heavily constrained in many parts of the country. I originally wrote about Voyager and the Blackberry 9000 back in October.
From the front Voyager has a lot of similarity to the iPhone. It has a touch-screen, all icon home page like iPhone but that's where the similarity ends. Voyager's unique feature is that it flips open to reveal a second 400 x 240 color screen and a QWERTY keyboard.
The external display is a touchscreen and while the internal screen is read-only. One feature that iPhone could easily lift from Voyager is the haptic feedback when typing on the touchscreen. As you tap the keyboard Voyager vibrates slightly to let you know that it took your feedback and it works surprisingly well. Haptic technology is like the "force feedback" found is a lot of game controllers like the Nintendo 64 controller's Rumble Pak.
The Voyager touchscreen was a little difficult to use and required a harder tap than iPhone, but I'm sure I'd get used to it. It is also a little laggy compared to iPhone. Navigating a Web page, while full HTML, wasn't quite as smooth as it is on iPhone and I frequently found myself erroneously clicking links instead of dragging.
The best things about Voyager are Verizon's sprawling network coverage and zippy 3G EVDO Internet access. I miss both of these features tremendously from my Treo 700p and AT&T's coverage is woeful in my part of the world forcing me to activate an old Treo just to have as a backup phone.
I was surprised to learn that Voyager doesn't have WiFi. This is probably the main area where iPhone beats it, although critics would say that 3G for WiFi is pretty much and even swap.
- Pros: 3G data, VZW network, haptic technology, video recording, MMS, QWERTY keyboard, removable battery, expansion slot, Mobile TV
- Cons: No WiFi, large
I hope that Apple buys every one of these new phones and has their iPhone team compare them to iPhone for usability then tear them apart. And this goes for all the phones in Europe and the Pacific Rim too. Unless there's a patent on it, there's no reason why Apple can't add forced feedback to iPhone with a simple firmware update. It's a very useful feature that helps bridge the tactile gap.
I remember that when the iPhone was in beta testing, Apple would push out updates daily. Is anyone else disappointed at the lack of software updates for iPhone?