When I first beheld the Samsung DoubleTime, I did a double take. With its white body, pink accents, dual touch screens, hinged clamshell form factor and a QWERTY keyboard, the DoubleTime looks like exactly the kind of handset to come out of T-Mobile, not its buttoned-up rival and would-be owner, AT&T.
The carrier definitely deserves kudos for going out on a limb, and in fact, it has done so before in introducing the HTC Status Facebook phone. I appreciate the unusual build and the fact that both Samsung and AT&T have reached beyond the same humdrum comfort of plain, thin black phones in an offering as unique as this. Unfortunately, the design is the phone's best element; features-wise, it's serviceable, but offers very little else to entice. Its worse sin is the Android 2.2 Froyo OS it ships with, rather than the more current Android 2.3 Gingerbread. The 3.2-megapixel camera is also mediocre, though call quality is good.
The combination of the interesting QWERTY design with the pink accents and the Froyo OS limit the DoubleTime's audience, though the $49.99 price tag is fair and budget-friendly.
The DoubleTime is a breath of fresh air for those of you (like me) who are a little tired of gazing upon the same tall, thin, black smartphone design. It's all white, with two sturdy hinges that swing open the 3.2-inch touch screen (at two different angles) to reveal an identical screen within, and a four-row QWERTY keyboard. Different, right?
At 4.5 inches tall by 2.4 inches wide and 0.6 inch thick, it's a relatively thick, compact device, so very different than razor-thin phones such as the Motorola Droid Razr and Samsung Galaxy Nexus. I don't mind the girth, in truth, especially since I enjoy the phone design. The width gives me something to grab hold of, and I was actually able to walk down the street shooting video and taking photos one-handed (while holding my lunch in the other), something I don't necessarily recommend, but something that is also more difficult to accomplish on thinner handsets. You may have to coax it into tighter pockets, but it fits fine in my cavernous purse and wasn't too uncomfortable hitching a ride in the back pocket of my trustiest pair of jeans.
In addition to the bulkier design, the DoubleTime is weightier, too: 5.2 ounces. Again, the heft adds to a sense of durability that you don't always get with plastic phones.
Back to those twin screens. The DoubleTime's 3.2-inchers have an HVGA (480x320 pixels) resolution. Icons look a little small, and Web sites aren't as easy to read as on larger screens, but it looks colorful and bright enough as long as you're not in direct sunlight. Unfortunately, the phone only runs Android 2.2 Froyo, and Samsung says it doesn't have anything to announce just now about upgrades. While it's unlikely the phone will make the jump to Ice Cream Sandwich (at least not any time soon,) those of you who are happy with Gingerbread won't miss too much. The DoubleTime still supports most features, including hot-spot connectivity for up to five devices (when you subscribe to a separate monthly plan.)
A version of Samsung's TouchWiz interface rides atop Froyo. This gives you the ability to see an overview of your home screens (up to seven) when you pinch in, and access system settings when you pull down the notifications bar. It also has a stylized look and feel.
Below the external screen are four physical buttons that are nice and responsive--they pull up the menu, go Home, go back, and launch search. On the subtly textured backing is the 3.2-megapixel camera. You have to pop off the back cover to reach the microSD card slot. Although the DoubleTime comes with 2GB preinstalled (thanks, Samsung and AT&T!), you'll have to remove the battery to remove or replace the card. The phone takes up to 32GB in total.
The other external features are predictable: there's a nice volume rocker on the left spine, the power button and 3.5 millimeter headset jack up top, and the Micro-USB charging port on the bottom.
As I mentioned before, the screen flips open like a book to reveal the keyboard and second, internal screen. The keyboard manages to be both compact and roomy, with space between the squarish buttons. The proportion was just right for my hands, and although the backlit keys don't rise very high from the surface, the rubberized coating and responsive feedback helped me type with confidence. I also like the four physical navigation buttons above the QWERTY. All of the phone's physical buttons sport a bright pink accent, which won't appeal to all demographics.