AT&T Quickfire Review

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Introduction and Design
Introduction:

For so long it seems that T-Mobile’s line of Sidekick devices have become synonymous with the hip, young, and cultured teen age group. Heads definitely turn when someone takes one out of their pocket and swivel that screen upright. It’s the staple of a true and fashioned Sidekick. But AT&T now offers the Quickfire, which is manufactured by PCD, to woe some of those traditional Sidekick users. This text messaging device sports a capacitive touch screen which gives a different feel while accommodating a tactile QWERTY keyboard. Design aside; it also uses AT&T’s 3G service to provide quick access to the internet.  Although the Quickfire may look to emulate a smart phone with its multitude of features, it is aimed for the messaging happy users out there.

The package contains: AT&T Quickfire, Charger, User Manual



Design:

The design seems to have been inspired by the Sidekick lineup, more specifically the Motorola Slide. The QWERTY keyboard is revealed by sliding the screen from left to right. We’re not fans of the cheap plastic material they used for the shell of the Quickfire. It almost looks as though it is a play toy for a younger child. Luckily, the plastic does make the device feel very light weight (4.8 oz) even with the battery. The capacitive 2.8” screen dominates the face, with only three button located beneath it.  We had some problems having the phone recognize our touch initially and had to press multiple times. After some getting used to, we found ourselves navigating a little bit easier. Colors on the screen were vivid and various tones were distinguishable. We just did not like how it had very poor viewing angles. Colors would distort if you slowly tilt the device in any direction and only displayed it correctly when placed directly in front of you. There is no light sensor found and the brightness cannot be adjusted which caused issues viewing in direct sunlight.



You can compare the AT&T Quickfire with many other phones using our Size Visualization Tool.

Sliding the screen will reveal the QWERTY keyboard which we found to be quite responsive. We like how the keys aren’t placed too close to one another and allowed our fingers to glide over them with relative ease. You actually get a good tactile feeling as you use a thumb to press down on a key. The Quickfire uses four rows for the keyboard with the numbers colored in orange to distinguish them from the others. You will also find navigation keys on the lower right corner that are useful because you may opt to use it rather than pressing the screen. Some programs on the device actually navigate better when using the keys rather than touch.


The three buttons located below the screen were large enough for anyone to press. The middle button between the send and end keys is used to bring up a shortcut menu which includes the web browser, music player, messaging, and calling functions. The volume rocker is placed on the left side while the dedicated camera button is found on the right side. We did like that a voice recognition button was placed on the same side of the camera key. It’s not something you would not find as a feature on a messaging device, but the placement of the button is great when you have to operate it with one hand. On top, the microSD card slot can be easily accessed with the proprietary USB/charging port located in the same area. The power/lock button is located on the top side of the phone as well. There is a 1.3 megapixel camera found on the back with a self portrait mirror and the speaker phone found next to it.  Finally, the battery (1200 mAh) can be removed by pressing the latch on the back of the device..






AT&T Quickfire Video Review:



AT&T Quickfire 360 degrees view




Software and Features:

Navigating through the Quickfire came with ease thanks to the straight forward interface. Icons are sized to accommodate the touch screen, which is one of the main features of the device. There might be a learning curve at first when trying to scroll through the menus because you have to flick your finger in the direction you want to go. Users of the iPhone like flick gestures might have a hard time adjusting to this and might view it as not responsive. Switching from a portrait to landscape view happens swiftly with no evidence of slow down.  Something worth noting is that certain applications need to be viewed in landscape view and will not work in portrait. We would have liked to see themoptimized to run on either orientation.

Pressing the main menu icon will display a grid style view of some of the applications. We did like how there are a variety of home screens you can choose from that adds some personalization options. For example, you can pick from a digital or analog clock, world time, calendar, or large shortcut buttons. It also comes with some pretty decent looking wallpaper choices that show off some of the brilliant colors on screen. Still, there are very few items you can change as far as personalization settings. For example, there are only two choices for the color themes and you cannot change the font style. 

You can store up to 500 contacts on the phone itself with a home, office, mobile, and other phone numbers. Additionally you can assign other choices such as a fax number, two different e-mail addresses, URL page,  group, image, ringtone, address, and a memo for each contact.


Photos taken in bright lit areas were pretty clear except that colors were not accurate. While low lit indoor shots came out quite blurry with some haze noticeable when you review an image. They also looked pixilated at times. Outdoor shots came out a little bit better with overall good detail and better representation of colors. Videos can be recorded, but they are probably best for use with MMS. The frame rate was choppy even when slowly moving the camera and audio seemed to be on the low side. Overall detail was lacking despite having a 320x240 resolution.  The Quickfire provides a very basic camera and video interface to allow users to make some changes.


For listening to music, the Quickfire comes with AT&T’s Music Player which is simplistic at its core. The files are organized in a variety of ways from albums, artists, genres, and playlists. After making a selection, the application displays the album cover, song name, artist, and length. The buttons on the touch screen are used for navigation within the player so you cause pause, fast forward, and reverse a track. Unlike some recent devices for AT&T that utilizes their Music Player, the Quickfire does not allow music to play in the background if you go back to the home screen. We’re not sure why this happens, but it will only continue to play a track if you go back to the main menu. Surprisingly, we found sound quality on the speaker phone to be quite adequate when you placed it on the highest volume. It sounded crisp and audible with no noticeable crackling.
 
Video playback on the phone is a different story. One would think that the size of the screen would make for an enjoyable experience watching videos, but we noticed a lot of lag during play back. We ran a trailer in 220x96 pixels and H.264 format and observed the device struggle to keep up during certain intervals. We had better luck viewing a video in portrait because of the poor viewing angles in landscape. You literally need to look at the screen at a ninety degree angle in landscape to see anything. Audio output was very dull and you can hear some crackling when placed on the loudest volume setting. The Quickfire does allow you to view YouTube videos with their video player. Although they looked pixilated and grainy at times, it does the job for viewing them.

The AT&T Quickfire is a global quad-band (850/900/1800/1900 MHz) GSM phone with tri-band UMTS (850/1900/2100 MHz). Music lovers will be glad to know that the device supports stereo Bluetooth. Additionally, you will still be able to pair it up with various wireless Bluetooth headsets and transfer data wirelessly between the devices.

Mobile friendly sites loaded up really fast while more complex ones took up more time and found ourselves waiting a lot. The Quickfire uses Polaris Browser 6.0 which did a good job of rendering a web site with text and pictures. We were impressed by how crisp and clear they looked, but scrolling through a large site was slow. As we stated earlier, there might be some adjusting required for some users due to the fact that you have to scroll with your finger towards the direction you want to go to. There are some options that you can modify so the browser will optimize the way it is displayed for text viewing or load faster by not displaying photos.



Other useful applications that comes preloaded with the Quickfire are MEdia Net for web browsing, AT&T Navigator for GPS Navigation, MEdia Mall for shopping, Instant Message support (AIM, Yahoo, Windows Live), and Mobile Email. For a messaging device, the unfortunate limited email support will probably turn away some users. It only supports specified email clients listed on the application. You’re out of luck if yours is not included in the list. We like how the IM client is set up on the device. It allows you to use multiple services at the same time without signing out of another. You’ll also be able to have multiple conversations and browse them within each service. In addition, it will run in the background if you exit out of everything and go back to the home screen. This is a feature not typically seen on a non-smart phone device. Seeing that this is deemed as a messaging device, there is a Notepad application you can use to type up and save small messages. The only flaw that we found with this is that it only allows you to type up a maximum 300 characters before having to create a new one.

The device comes with 29MB of internal storage with microSD support for up to 8GB cards. We used a 4GB microSD HC card and had no trouble being read by the Quickfire. We then swapped it a different card and it read it without any problems.




Performance:

Phone conversations came out decent with no major background noise. We had to place the phone on the highest volume setting in order to hear our conversations and found it too difficult to hear someone when placed on low or middle setting. We were expecting to receive the same exceptional sound quality we heard when playing a song, but greeted instead with muffled sounding audio. It was difficult trying to make out what the other person was saying and asked them to repeat themselves on numerous occasions.

Reception was good overall and had no problems sending or receiving phone calls. Testing out AT&T’s 3G network on the device was no problem in the greater New York metropolitan area. 

We were disappointed with the battery life of the device. It is rated with a 3 hour talk time and 288 days of stand-by time, but we fell far short of those numbers. In less than 2 day of normal use after being fully charged, we had only ¼ battery life left. We also noticed while using AT&T Navigator that the battery indicator would drop dramatically to suddenly go back up once we exited the software.  This could be just some sort of glitch in the software and disregarded the false indicator while using it.

Conclusion:

The Quickfire does a great job when it comes to being strictly a messaging device. We love how the QWERTY keyboard feels and the addition of a touch screen adds some cool factor to an overall dull design. Although not found on a Sidekick, it fails in implementing the touch screen with the software correctly. There were times when we found some applications requiring you to use the navigations keys on the QWERTY instead. The plastic material looks cheap and would have preferred something like the high quality material used on the Pantech Matrix for a better visual appeal. There will be some functions some users might be thrown back by; specifically the way to scroll using the touch screen.  We would have liked to see some sort of navigation pad on the front of the device rather than using the ones found on the QWERTY keyboard. With more and more messaging oriented devices available, it’s great that the Quickfire packs a lot of features in its design. The limitations on how it integrates together with the interface holds it back from being a well balanced phone, but does well just as being a messaging device.

AT&T Quickfire Video Review:




Pros

  • Responsive QWERTY keyboard
  • Home screen interface
  • Messaging applications

Cons

  • Poor battery life
  • Poor viewing angles
  • Choppy video playback
  • Speaker phone quality

PhoneArena Rating:

5.0

User Rating:

6.6
53 Reviews

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