We've seen plenty of Samsung touch-screen handsets come our way, but not many of them make it to U.S. Cellular, a regional carrier based in Chicago. The only one so far has been the Samsung Delve, which made it to the carrier's lineup late last year. Now another one has joined the family: the Samsung Caliber. The Caliber has a slightly larger display than the Delve, and it features additional home screens as well as multiple menu screens. We weren't terribly pleased by the responsiveness of the touch screen, but the Caliber does have a full multimedia feature set and decent call quality. The Samsung Caliber is $319.95 without a contract.
The Samsung Caliber is long and lean, with smooth curved corners and rounded edges, which sets it apart from the rectangular look of the Delve. Measuring 4.55 inches long by 2.23 inches wide by 0.47 inch thick, the Caliber is quite slender and not at all bulky. It's also only 3.59 ounces, thanks to a mostly plastic chassis. Yet, it feels sturdy and comfortable in the hand.
The Caliber has a very nice 3.2-inch touch-screen display dominating its entire front surface. It has support for 262,000 colors and 240x400 pixels, which result in bright and vibrant images and text. You can adjust the backlight time and the brightness but not the display font size. You can also adjust the touch sensitivity and go through a touch calibration wizard to ensure accurate tapping. We're happy to see that the Caliber also has haptic feedback, and that you can adjust the length and intensity of the vibrations.
Still, we weren't always pleased with the touch-screen experience. We would often select something by mistake when we were just scrolling around, for example. It's also not as responsive as we would like due to the resistive screen--it takes more than just a light brush of the fingers to get something to move. To make things a little easier, the Caliber does come with an optional stylus, which we do prefer over the fingers for a wide variety of tasks. There's no slot to store the stylus on the handset, but you can hang it on like a phone charm if you like.
The Caliber has three different home screens, which you can flip through by swiping your finger horizontally across the display. You can customize each screen with different wallpaper plus widgets and shortcuts from the TouchWiz widget tray on the left. You only get 25 widgets that come with the phone, but they do include quick access to Facebook, MySpace, YouTube, and Twitter. Also on the top of each home screen is a collapsible shortcut bar for a new text message, a new memo, the music player, and the Bluetooth settings. You can add and remove widgets from the TouchWiz tray, but not from the shortcut bar. Along the bottom row are shortcuts to the phone dialer, the contacts list, the messaging menu, and the main menu.
There's also an accelerometer on the Caliber that will automatically rotate the display on the phone from portrait to landscape mode and vice versa in certain applications. For example, you can change the alphanumeric text entry to a virtual QWERTY keyboard in the messaging interface just by rotating the phone. The phone has two gesture settings that also benefit from the accelerometer; a Mute gesture, which silences any incoming event by just turning the phone face down, and a Widget reset gesture, which resets all the widgets on the screen just by shaking the phone. Though a little gimmicky, we found these gestures quite useful.
Since this is a touch-screen-only phone, you need to rely on the virtual phone dialer for dialing numbers. Luckily, the dialer has large digits and you can access your favorite contacts, your address book, and caller groups list right from the dialer interface. There's an onscreen back control to erase mistakes, and you can easily add contacts or send a message from the dialer as well.
The same goes for typing out text messages. You have several input methods; one is via a portrait mode alphanumeric keypad, and another is via a handwriting recognition tool in either full- or half-screen mode. Though they work fine, we prefer to use the virtual QWERTY keyboard. The keyboard is similar to other Samsung touch-screen phones, and we like having a shortcuts tab with "www" and ".com" buttons to make entering URLs a lot easier. Entering text on the keyboard was fine for the most part, though we did wish there was an autocorrect feature.
Underneath the display are three physical controls. They are the Talk key, the Clear/Back key, and the End key. A 3.5mm headset jack and the power/screen lock button are at the top. On the left spine are a charger jack and a volume rocker while the right side is home to a camera key, a voice command key, and the microSD card slot. The external speaker and camera lens with LED flash are on the back.