Touchscreen phone comparison Q3 - U.S. carriers
With their large touchscreen displays all four phones offer a full QWERTY keyboard in landscape mode. In portrait mode the iPhone is also QWERTY, the Instinct has a stupid alphabetical keypad and the Dare and Vu have a much more logical traditional keypad layout, with the choice of either T9 predictive text or ABC multi-tap entry. The iPhone and Instinct both feature threaded text messaging, the Dare and Vu have the normal single-message-at-a-time view.
The iPhone and Instinct can interface with an Exchange server, which gives the user true push email. The iPhone also syncs with Apple’s MobileMe service, similar to Exchange. The Vu and Dare both have email clients, though the Vu is limited in which providers it can check.
The Vu and Dare both come with a preloaded IM client which provide access to AIM, Yahoo and Windows Live messaging. There is a free AIM client available via the App Store for the iPhone, though it is buggy and does not currently notify you of IMs when not running. The Instinct does not have an IM client available yet.
Instinct’s QWERTY is well ahead of the other three phones. There is not much to say other than it’s very accurate and has auto-correction software for the few times you need it. We still for the life of us can’t figure out why the portrait keyboard is alphabetical instead of T9/ABC. We’re holding out hope that this will be corrected in the next software upgrade.
The iPhone’s landscape QWERTY is nearly as good as the Instinct’s and has excellent auto-correct software. However, it can only be used when browsing the web and for messages you have to use the decidedly worse portrait QWERTY. The auto-correct software does its best to help you, but in the end the keyboard is just too cramped, not accurate enough and the software couldn’t overcome our many mistakes. We’d hoped Apple would make the landscape available in messaging with the new iPhone, but given that there have been several software releases since its original launch we realistically don’t see it coming. The iPhone loses some points for not being able to send or receive MMS messages.
Dare and Vu both have very similar, and fairly poor, keyboards. The 0.1” less screen real estate makes more of a difference than you’d imagine, as the Vu and Dare border on cramped when in QWERTY mode. Neither is particularly accurate, and compounding the problem is the responsiveness issues we mentioned earlier in the review. When typing it will simply miss key strokes, despite positive feedback (haptics, sound) being given. This issue is present both on the QWERTY and traditional keypads, making it slow to type with either. Typing with speed is impossible, unless you want to wade back through the message and correct several mistakes. There is no auto-correct feature present on either device.
Rating: Instinct 5, iPhone 3, Dare 1, Vu 1
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