6th November 2007

Virgin Mobile Kyocera Wild Card Phone – Review

posted by Doomzilla in Consumer Electronics, Reviews |

For those of us that do not talk on a cell phone for multiple hundreds of hours a month there aren’t many options to choose from. Most phones that are aesthetically pleasing or have the options we want are either too expensive or require monthly plans with way to many minutes or both. Virgin Mobile recently unveiled the Wild Card, an update to the Switch_Back, which is aimed at the sweet spot of Price vs. Features vs. Plans.

The Wild Card is a full featured phone that includes:

  • Large hidden QWERTY keypad
  • Dual display screens
  • External 65k color 128 X 128 pixel
  • Internal 65k color 128 X 160 pixel wide screen
  • 1.3 megapixel camera with 3x digital zoom
  • Integrated speakerphone
  • “Real-music” ringtones
  • WAP 2.0 Web browser
  • Bluetooth® Wireless

The phone is a diminutive 3.94″ high x 1.97″ wide x .79″ deep and weighs in at a lightweight 4.1 ounces. This makes it slightly shorter and less wide than the iPhone, but thicker.

Wild Card vs. iPhone

When I received the phone it was in the typical “people proof” molded plastic packaging. After hacking it open with some scissors I felt a great sense wonder as I finally held the phone in my hands. It was a bit smaller than I had expected it to be. When it is folded up it looks like a normal candy bar style cellphone and doesn’t seem a lot thicker than the majority of cellphones. The external screen on the face of the phone is very clear and colorful. Upon opening the phone on its hinge there was another screen, a full keyboard, and a speaker on the left hand side of the screen.

The front of the phone has a basic Number Pad, Power Button, Call Button, and four hot keys for Account Info, Text Messaging, Call History, and Virgin XL (VXL) which is Virgin Mobiles web source for new graphics, games, music, and surfing the web. The four hot keys double as navigation arrows when in any menu. Also, there are two buttons that coorespond with whatever options are shown on the bottom left and right of the screen. When the main screen is up, the buttons take you to the Menu and Contacts. The button setup is very well thought out as all the major tasks and information can be found in one or two button presses.

Phone Side View

The Main Menu consists of Messaging, Contacts, Virgin XL, My Account, My Stuff, IM, Recent Calls, Pictures, Settings, and Tools. Some of these are redundant considering that the hot keys cover some of them, but this is very smart as not everyone will use the phone the same way. Many functions of the phone can be accessed in more than one way and, in my opinion, this is a great approach to user interaction. If you navigate to the Settings you can even choose whether you want the menu displayed in icons or just plain text. I prefer to use the icons as it requires less scrolling when trying to get to many of the options.

Camera and Battery Cover

On the edge of the hinged side of the phone there is volume control and a button which turns on the camera for taking pictures. Once in camera mode, you can use that button to take the pictures, but it is much easier to use the button on the front that is designated “Capture” once in camera mode. The camera is 1.3 megapixels so obviously it isn’t going to replace owning an actual digital camera, but for quick captures around town it is very capable and even has a bright little flash for taking pictures in the dark.

Seattle Skyline Seattle Street Mario Pumpkin
Three pictures taken at max resolution with the Wild Card

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