Streaming video quality was comparable to other V Cast phones. The picture was relatively sharp with decent graphics, but there was some color distortion, and quick movements were pixelated and blurry. Also, small text--like subtitles--was difficult to read. Videos never paused for rebuffering, and the player didn't freeze. Sound quality on videos was rather hollow, but voices matched the speakers' mouths. Fortunately, music quality was more satisfying. The sole speaker provides decent output, but as is usually the case on a music phone, the sound is distorted at the highest levels. A headset will provide the best experience.
The Glyde offers a full HTML browser, which lets you view Web pages as they were meant to be seen. It's a great idea, but the execution isn't as elegant as on the iPhone or even the Voyager. The display defaults to landscape mode (there's no iPhone-like accelerometer here), but the screen's small size means you need to do a lot of finger sweeping to the see a page in its entirety. That's not a problem for simple Web pages, but for busy sites like CNET.com, the pages move rather erratically and the whole thing feels a bit clunky. You can zoom in on a page by using the volume rocker/camera zoom on the side of the phone; tapping the screen or using an iPhone "pinching" motion won't do a thing. The load time for pages depends on how graphics-heavy they are, but most pages loaded relatively quickly thanks to Verizon's EV-DO network. We noticed, however, that you need to let a page load completely before you can click other links. If we didn't wait patiently, the page tended to freeze. Also, because of the display's size, you may need to zoom in to hit small links.
The full duplex speakerphone is easy to use. You can activate it before you make a call by pressing an onscreen button or by dialing a number with the phone open. To activate the speakerphone during a call, you can press an onscreen control or you can slide open the phone. To deactivate the speakerphone, just perform the reverse actions.
As an alternative, you can use Verizon's Optimized Web option, which reformats select sites into smaller pages. We're not fans of this option, however, since you have to scroll through several pages to see what would normally be on one page. Also, not all sites are supported (CNET.com is not). The Web browser main menu offers a selection of dedicated Verizon-branded content including news, sports, and weather. There's also a dedicated Facebook application. When you're done surfing, the Home button will close the browser.
The Glyde's voicemail is somewhat unique as cell phones go. When you receive a voicemail, Verizon will send you a free text notification that includes the number of the caller. The texts end up in a dedicated in-box where you can review them at will. Though it's not nearly as practical as the iPhone's visual voicemail--you can't listen to individual voicemails--it still can be pretty useful.
As an EV-DO phone, the Glyde supports the full range of Verizon's 3G services, including V Cast streaming video content and the V Cast Music store. When using both applications, the display orientates automatically to landscape mode. Both the V Cast menu and music store interface are pretty much unchanged, but the touch-screen navigation takes a bit of practice. For example, in a long list of songs, the scroll bar on the right side of the screen is tiny. We had to be careful not to select a song by accident. The music player is about the same on other Verizon music phones, but it shows a few changes. You don't get album art but it's there is a scrollable playlist. Player options include the usual limited shuffle and repeat modes, but V Cast Music also will recommend other songs based on your playlist. The Glyde includes an airplane mode for listening to your tunes while aloft.
The Glyde has a 2.0-megapixel camera. You can take pictures in six resolutions from 1,600x1,200 down to 176x144, and you can choose from three quality settings. Other options are plentiful and include a self-timer, a multishot mode, six color tones, four white-balance effects, spot metering, a brightness control, and three shutter sounds (plus a silent option). There's also a nifty autofocus option and a 9x digital zoom, though the latter is unusable at the highest resolution. The flash is quite bright, and we appreciate the self-portrait mirror. The camcorder takes clips with sound in two resolutions (320x240 and 176x144). Clips meant for multimedia messages are capped at 30 seconds; otherwise you can shoot according to the available memory. Camcorder editing options are similar to the still camera.
The Glyde offers 45MB of shared internal memory. That's a decent amount of space, but we recommend using a microSD card for maximum storage. The Glyde will accommodate cards up to 8GB. Unfortunately, the Glyde's photo quality was disappointing. Colors were washed out and our images were blurry. Videos weren't much better; our clips were choppy and grainy.
You can personalize the Glyde with a variety of wallpaper, banners, alert tones, and clock styles. Also, you can change the dial font size on the display. More customization options are available from Verizon using the Web browser. The Glyde does not come with any games.
We tested the Glyde in San Francisco using Verizon Wireless service. Call quality was quite good on the whole; we encountered little static and had no problem getting a signal. Voices sounded natural, and the volume level was loud. Indeed, we could understand our callers when we were in noisy environments. Our only complaint, and this is a small one, is that there was a slight hiss in the background at times.
On their end, callers said we sounded fine. They could tell we were on a cell phone, but that's a common experience. They didn't report the background hiss that we noticed, but they had more trouble if we were talking someplace loud. Similarly, automated calling systems could understand us most of the time, but we had more trouble if, for example, we were outside on a busy street. Speakerphone calls were about the same. There was more distortion, but the volume on our end was quite loud. We had to speak close to the phone in order to be heard, but that's typical with speakerphones.
The EV-DO and data reception remained strong even when we were inside buildings. As mentioned in the Performance section, Web pages loaded relatively quickly but your experience will depend on how cluttered the site is. V Cast videos loaded in just a few seconds, but song downloads took longer than we expected. It took about 2 minutes to download a 3.7MB track.
The Samsung Glyde SCH-U940 has a rated battery life of 3.5 hours talk time and 10.4 days standby time. Our tests revealed a talk time of 4.83 hours. You can get an extended battery for more juice. According to FCC radiation tests, the Glyde has a digital SAR rating of 1.08 watts per kilogram.