We’ve given the music and mobile industries a lot of grief over their seemingly unshakeable faith in the idea that music on cell phones was somehow going to rescue revenues from the pits, so we’ll give Sprint some credit for finally realizing that mobile-phone song downloads should, like their computer-based analogues, be priced at only 99 cents a song. But the phone that Sprint is touting as its new iPhone challenger, the UpStage, may be a bit of a hard sell, if only because its interface sounds like it was designed by a gymnast:
As soon as you start using the UpStage, you realize that slick hardware isn’t enough. Ideally, this phone would just do two things: On one side, it’s a phone. Flip it over, it’s a music player. Simple.
But things aren’t that straightforward. On one side, it is indeed an easy-to-use phone. But flip it over (pressing a Flip button on the side) and you get a generic menu system, ill-designed for a phone with just a touchpad. Case in point: You’re frequently popping down menus, which have shortcut numbers on them, but you can’t press any of the number buttons to access the shortcuts. And every time you encounter something where you need to enter a letter or a number, you have to flip the phone over, enter the data on the keypad, and flip it back….
Sprint’s Groove Mobile music player, accessed from the flip side’s home screen with a quick launch button, is fine when you have just a few songs. But its interface is ugly, and navigating through the 500 songs you can put on a 2GB microSD card takes forever. You can step through songs in seemingly random order or slowly pace through a list that shows every song in order by artist. If you want to search the music store, you have to enter words, which means–you guessed it–another flip.
Just reading that made us a little dizzy. Unless Sprint is somehow trying to bring back the whole idea of the B-side (“your conversations are the flip side of life”–too shilly?), we foresee a lot of frustrated users who, confused by the Rubik’s Cube-like nature of using this device, will just give up on the idea of an all-in-one device and shell out another $149 on a Nano.
Sprint counters iPhone with 99 cent over-the-air music downloads [AppleInsider]
Sprint UpStage by Samsung SPH-M620 [PC Magazine]