Thursday, March 10, 2011

Affordable Mobile Phones with QWERTY Keyboard

By Shirley Julie

Full keyboards aren’t just for high-cost smartphones that come tethered to expensive data plans. Message phone offer the ease of a QWERTY keyboard, without the pain of the monthly bill.
The latest model is the Nokia X2 for T-Mobile. You get a few features beyond the basics, but the X2 is mostly about messaging. It shows Nokia's usual design chops, and it's just $79. The Pantech Link and Samsung SGH-A187 are available with AT&T's GoPhone service. Without a contract they'll cost you $29 and $79, respectively. The SGH-A187 has the edge in call quality, but we prefer the Link's design. MetroPCS' Kyocera Torino also is just $29. It has a usable design with a comfortable keyboard, though the call volume is low. Finally there's Cricket's TXTM8. It doesn't have the best speakerphone, but it offers decent features.
Nokia X2 - slate (T-Mobile) - Prepaid
The good: The Nokia X2 has a solid, straightforward design and a comfortable keyboard. Messaging options are plentiful and call quality is satisfactory.
The bad: The Nokia X2 has a low-resolution display and lacks a dedicated volume rocker. The speakerphone performance wasn't ideal, and data speeds top out at EDGE.
The bottom line: The Nokia X2 offers basic communication options, plus a couple of extras, in an agreeable design. What's more, it delivers a full keyboard at an affordable price.
Pantech Link (AT&T)
The good: The Pantech Link is thin and sleek with a rubberized backing and a nice QWERTY keyboard. It has a 1.3-megapixel camera, a music player, 3G/HSDPA, and support for AT&T's new cloud services. It is also very affordable. The bad: The call quality could be improved and the HTML browser seems wasted on such a small screen.
The bottom line: The Pantech Link is an absolute steal with an excellent array of midrange features, a great slim design, and a wallet-friendly price. We wish only that it had better call quality.
Samsung SGH-a187 GoPhone - blue (AT&T) - Prepaid/Pay As You Go
The good: The Samsung SGH-A187 has an attractive design, a variety of e-mail and instant messaging options, and a 16GB microSD card slot.
The bad: The keys on the Samsung SGH-A187's keyboard occasionally stick, and the navigation toggle could be thicker.
The bottom line: The Samsung SGH-A187 has all the necessities of a text messaging phone. Although the occasional keyboard inconsistencies are frustrating, these electronic gadgets are a solid choice for a good price.
Kyocera Torino S2300 - black(MetroPCS)
The good: The Kyocera Torino has a user-friendly design with a comfortable keyboard. The functional feature set of these electronic gadgets includes a few extras such as voice dialing and Bluetooth.
The bad: The Kyocera Torino's phone book only offers caller ID for groups, and its headset jack is 2.5mm. Call volume was low.
The bottom line: We'd sharpen a couple of things, but the Kyocera Torino is an accessible and satisfying message phone for MetroPCS.
Cricket TXTM8
The good: The Cricket TXTM8 has a cute and compact design with an easy-to-use keyboard, a basic music player, a 1.3-megapixel camera, and stereo Bluetooth.
The bad: The tech gadgets of Cricket TXTM8 have bad speakerphone quality and we didn't like the raised bar in the middle of the keyboard. The display graphics could be improved.
The bottom line: The Cricket TXTM8 is a great little messaging phone for Cricket customers.

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