Not quite a smartphone, more than a feature phone. That should be the tagline for the Brightside. As Verizon's "tweener," it offers a touch display and a slide-out keyboard -- features found on high-end devices -- paired with a lackluster "Brew" interface, 3.2-megapixel lens and 3.5G speed -- items you'd use on a more "functional" phone.
But one thing you can't argue with: it's cheap, and you don't need to buy a data plan -- if you're not going to use the Internet. As carriers push data, the Brightside is one of the few phones that aren't hooked to the Web -- whether that is a good or bad thing.
The 3.1-inch display is the centerpiece. It features capacitive touch, which is just a fancy word for "sensing," so you can gently slide your finger over the screen, rather than pressing down to register an action. That's especially nice, since it's responsive. If there's one thing Samsung does well, its display -- on smartphones, on tablets, on TVs and on the Brightside. It shows off a 262,000 color screen, which feels a bit pixelated after using an iPhone, but hey, for the price you'll pay -- it's nothing to complain about.
Below, there's simple buttons to navigate through the clunky menu and a micro-USB port for charging. On the top, you'll find a 3.5-millimeter jack for a headset.
The back houses the 3.2-megapixel lens. Mediocre is probably the best word to describe it. You won't be shooting any award-winning photos, but if there's something impromptu, you won't be left without a picture. The image quality is dull indoors -- okay bad -- but the colors are fairly accurate and the details are as sharp as you'll get for a free phone. It's a bit better outdoors, but you'll likely need to rely on brightness and white balance filters to help out. Don't expect auto-focus, not that it really matters.
Videos can be recorded for browsing on another phone. That's about it. If you think the camera is bad, don't even try the video. On a bright note, the sounds are clear.
A keyboard pops out from behind the phone. Unlike most phones, the Brightside has number buttons along the top row, and directional keys on the bottom right corner. These come in handy for speed -- when you don't want to shift-tap, shaving off precious seconds. Surprisingly, the keyboard is pretty good. It's comfortable to type on, but the space bar is a bit short. Since it's located right in the middle, the start of each new word requires you to stretch your thumb -- no matter if you're left or right handed. The space bar is pretty important, so this may be a deal-breaker if you have small hands.
Not only is the design unsexy, it's not sleek either. In fact, "blocky" is the word that comes to mind. And that's pretty much how you can describe the interface. Rather than Android, the Brightside shows its true colors in an awful Brew menu. Aside from being ugly, you can't change much of anything -- so you'll have to live with it. In addition, everything is over-sized -- the fonts, the menus, everything -- so you'll have to scroll twice as much.
I was disappointed with pretty much every feature of the phone -- except the call quality, which is fantastic, and battery life -- if it can't run anything it runs forever -- and the price, of course.
If you're just looking for a phone that calls, texts and snaps a few photos, the Brightside may be for you. But if you're really considering this phone, do yourself a favor and take a look at other cheap devices -- like the LG Lucid, which actually runs Android, and the Samsung Intensity 3 -- both for Verizon. If you're looking for a cheap alternative to a smartphone, well... you'll get what you paid for. ♦
For a smartphone, the Brightside is as close as it gets without being one. The call quality is outstanding, due in large part to Verizon's excellent coverage -- you can't beat it.
The touch display is great too -- nice and responsive. If Samsung's proven one thing, it's that it can make a great touch screen. But the kicker is that the keyboard slides out from underneath. The keys are laid out nicely and texting feels fantastic. The extra bulk doesn't add much weight and the handset doesn't feel heavy at all.
In addition, the 3.2-megapixel lens much better than the 1.3-megapixel cameras on my old phones. And it does what I need for those impromptu moments.
The music player does what it should and the volume is decent -- not too muffled either.
There are a few drawbacks. I would have like to add customizations -- maybe change the font sizes, page colors and overall look, but it's not a big deal. In addition, the document viewer is kind of slow. When I tried to upload my music library, I ran into a few problems. But after some trial and error, it works fine now.
Don't get me wrong, I really like smartphones, but the extra data plan is a tough for me to take. That's why I love the Brightside. It's got all the functions of a smartphone, albeit without the operating system, but the touch screen and keyboard make it a great phone if you don't use the Web a lot.Was this review helpful to you?
Verizon's non-smartphones are just awful. They feel flimsy, their cameras are terrible and they run on awful interfaces.
For a touch screen, the Brightside has a pretty good one. It responds well, but it's a far cry from the iPhone -- which isn't fair since it's not in the same class. Still, the scroll isn't as responsive, which isn't a big deal, and you'll accidentally hit the wrong buttons on the display.
I'm always calling voicemail when I don't want to. Also when I use Swype to text, the screen doesn't always pick up the movements -- so I'll have to keep starting over. I use the keyboard to text now.
The 3.2-megapixel lens is pretty weak nowadays, but it's hard to do better without moving up to a smartphone. My main complaint is the customization -- you can't change anything. Specifically, the font comes in two sizes -- big and huge. Don't even try to read or write texts -- you can't see more than a few lines.
The Brightside would be so much better if it had a better interface. It's better than most feature phones, but it's not even comparable to a smartphone. The only reason to buy this is you can't afford a smartphone.Was this review helpful to you?
The nice thing about the Brightside is that it has 3G. If you want Internet, but don't want to pay up the nose for a data plan, this is your phone. There's still a fee, but you won't as expensive as the other high-end phones. The keyboard is nice to type on. It's not too big and not too small. Just right. It's comfortable to hold and the buttons are well-spaced, so you won't hit the wrong buttons too often.
I like the camera too. It's not anything special in this day and age, but it's nice if you don't bring a digital camera with you everywhere you go. If I see something cool, I just bring out my phone. It's always with me. Also, considering the small storage space, the microSD slot is nice. It's positioned behind the back plate, so it's a bit inconvenient. But you won't have problems with memory if you buy a card.
I found the touch display to be a bit too touchy. When I talk on the phone with my cheek against the screen, it'll think I'm touching it and activate. When I lay the phone down, it'll think I'm pressing the screen too. Most often, it goes into the voicemail.
There are quite a lot of preinstalled apps -- which is bad since most of it is bloatware. You can uninstall it, which is not a big deal, but it's rather annoying. I wish I could remove VZ Navigator -- Verizon's map app -- it keeps telling me about its features when I don't care. There's a few apps you can't uninstall. Lastly, the font bugs me. The Brightside comes in two options -- large and freaking large. You'll have to do a lot of scrolling.
But for $100, it's not a bad phone.Was this review helpful to you?
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