Pros *e-ink buttons work very well
*groups text msgs by conversation
*bigger screen both front and main
*nice feel and look
Cons *buttons not programmable
*less useful qwerty
*no camera flash
*interface not updated much
*2.5mm headphone jack
Summary I've had the Samsung Alias (SCH-U740) for a while and really liked it, so when the Alias 2 (I'll call it A2) came out, I got one immediately. It's a nice phone, and for new users might be very good, but for someone who had the old Alias (I'll call it A1), it was sort of a disappointment.
First of all, it's bigger and thicker than the A1, perhaps to accommodate the bigger screens, better camera, and e-ink technology, but it was disappointing as I was used to the very slim A1.
Let's get to the e-ink. It works great. You can see it change when you flip it open in both directions. Rarely does the keypad change slow enough that you're waiting for it (the largest delay is when opening to get a new text). The e-ink seems to remember the last orientation it was in, so if you open it vertically once, the next time the buttons will already be in vertical arrangement. It's readable, the backlight is good, and the buttons are bigger than the A1.
However, the e-ink keypad leaves much to be desired. There are often blank keys that you long to be able to program with shortcuts, or move the location of things around. The latter would be especially useful since the layout is slightly-to-very different from the keypad of the A1; different enough that A1 users will have to relearn the placement of many buttons. User programmable buttons are the biggest oversight in this iteration of the phone. Very, very sad indeed. Very sad. I can't stress this enough.
Also, the keypad is now black and white, so you'll miss the red and green visual cues of important buttons from the A1. And the buttons are mostly all one size, so the tactile cue of the A1 is missing as well (as in the A1, the Send button was larger than the others).
The QWERTY is also not as useful as the A1. As the QWERTY takes up every button, some very, very important and often used buttons are left off the QWERTY and relegated to a second layout (switched with a click of a button) including the apostrophe, question mark, exclamation point, dash, *, quote marks (which there is only 1 side of oddly, there is only a closed quote mark, no open quote one), and the parentheses are in yet another layout. In the A1, you would simply hold down a button for these characters as each button pulled double or triple duty. Here, just to type "let's", you'd have to press a button to get to the apostrophe, press apostrophe, press the layout button twice to get back to QWERTY. you'll get quick at it, but it seems really unnecessary. This is a pretty large design flaw. Finally, as a last gripe about it, the OK button is in the middle/top of the keypad and is annoying to reach for with your thumb.
So besides the sadness that is the unrealized potential of the e-ink keypad, there are other disappointment. The camera is better, but they got rid of the flash that the A1 had. They changed the A1's bad input for a headphone (you needed an adapter for your headphones to plug in) to a 2.5mm jack...so you still need an adapter if you want to use typical 3.5mm headphones, AND can't use your old adapter. The music player's interface is still horrible, there is an echo when you talk that the A1 didn't have (though I like it so far as it makes it clearer to hear if you're speaking too loudly), you can't get to the video camera option by hitting the camera button twice (as you could in the A1), the calendar is still horrible to use (why can't i copy events?), I downloaded Street Fighter and the control pad doesn't really work with it in portrait mode...
That's a lot of gripes, but that's because I liked the A1 so much and got used to it. For a new owner of the A2, he/she won't have had the history and will probably like this very cool and functional phone much more than a veteran like me. The camera is nice, the dual screens are big and clear, the e-ink keypad is undeniably cool, the music player is a nice (last resort) touch if you need music, the speakers are clear, the battery life is good, the call quality is top-notch, and the phone is overall very customizable.
But alas, as much as I wanted, I couldn't give the Alias 2 much more than 2 stars. It could have been something great with programmable keys, but really missed out here.
Pros Great Qwerty keyboard...excellent sound and reception...fast web browser...easy to program and customize.
Cons All the display themes (save for "My Place") have garish colors and visual effects. The ringtones are mostly cheezy synth riffs. And the calendar alarms default to the awful VZW Default tone. SAMSUNG, just give us a simple ringer for the default!
Summary After switching from an LG 8600, which has a clean and elegant interface (albeit with less-than-great-sound) my first impression was that the Alias 2 was fat and bloated with its over-the-top menus and cheezy ringtones. But after taking a deep breath and spending a little time with the phone (Verizon gives you 30 days to decide if you'll keep it) I managed to customize it to my specs, using the "My Place" display and every shortcut option I could find. So now, everything I need is no more than a few clicks away.
Pros This phone has a lot of great features and the UI is a drastic improvement
Cons The camera failed to be upgraded. The standard is 2 megapixels now and anything below that is mediocre.
Summary cnet always marks phones down that don't have wi-fi even though they're clearly not a smartphone. There aren't any non-smartphones that do have wi-fi. The iPhone is a smartphone. All blackberries are smartphones, any phone with windows mobile is a smartphone but phones like the Alias 2 and the LG Dare aren't smartphones nor are they intended to be. The alias is a messaging phone while the Dare is a multimedia phone.I've noted that the Alias 2 has a 2 megapixel camera and not a 1.3 megapixel camera
Updated on Nov 29, 2009
Pros +E-ink keys are very functional, easy to use and are a cool thing to show off
+The large display is beautiful, vivid, and easy to read
+Feels very sturdy and the hinge has just the right resistance
+The voice recognition software works
Cons -It is slightly bigger than most flip phones
-Uses Samsung's proprietary charger
-2.5mm headphone jack
Summary I got the phone on the 13th of this month to upgrade from my LG Chocolate VX8550 from a very helpful Verizon store. I had found the phone on engadget and loved the idea of the e-ink keys.
Being a college student I txt a lot and the only reason I didn't buy the phone online is that I was worried that the keys would be difficult to txt on or would feel too much like smooth plastic. When handled the one in the store all my worries were put to rest: the keys on this phone are great and easy to use. Like most reviews have said they have a soft rubbery feel to them and are big enough not to mistype on.
The screen on the phone is absolutely beautiful and is quite large. (Which does make the phone look bigger than it is while opened up in clamshell mode) It does making txting and taking photos a very easy experience and even fits a fairly large about of large font txt which is great for those with poor eyesight. Speaking of the camera, it is a very nice upgrade from the camera on my old chocolate and I really appreciate the panorama feature on it.
The speakphone on the phone is excellent. I was amazed when I used it in my car and my father who is hard of hearing was able to understand me. The voice recognition software even works well with the speakerphone while outside.
The phone is bigger than most flip phones but while closed it is similar in dimension to my old chocolate as is even thinner than it because I had an extended battery installed on my old phone. This con is also a plus because it does feel solid in your hand and isn't flimsy. The hinge also feels solid and gives just the right resistance to feel solid but not firm enough to make it hard to use.
One of the only places where the phone is a disappointment is that is uses Samsung propriety jack instead of the increasingly popular USB standard. A 3.5mm heapdhone jack would also be more welcome than the 2.5mm headphone jack but I don't use my phone for music so this isn't a big let-down to me.
I love this phone. It is just what I need: a feature phone that is great at txting and is easy to use. The e-ink keys are the center of attention on this phone and not only are a cool gimmick but are very useful as well.
Pros texting, battery life, durability
Cons no cons. I owned the original Alias liked it so much I bought the new one.
Summary I also own the original alias which I liked so well I purchased this one on-line without seeing it in person. This phone is a little 'chunkier' than the original and slightly longer. It also has rounded edges as compared to the squared of original version. The hinge seems to have a stronger spring action. This might be because my other phone is older, but it held up better than I originally expected. The keypad is the seller of this phone, and while amazing, also makes the phone easier for texting and dialing. Which is the main purpose I use out of cell phone. This is a great phone for the money. I have never had a problem with my battery running dead, dropped phone calls, or faulty operation from the original phone. I cant say the same for this phone as I have obviously just purchased it. But I see no reason not to expect the same quality. I dont use my phone for music, internet, or television. While some people have 'needs' for these services, I have other devices that I use for these luxuries. I have read reviews on numerous phones on the market. I still havent figured out what people expect from a 'cell phone' Maybe some just like to put down a product to get noticed.