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Review: Samsung UpStage - Jekyll and Hyde Music Phone

Review by Michael Oryl on Monday April 16, 2007.

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I do appreciate that Samsung has worked on providing some level of multitasking in the UpStage. Functionality is limited to text messaging, web browsing, file management, and Sprint's On Demand services, but that's a start, at least. The fact that activating the phone mode of the UpStage kills the music player means that you can't momentarily pause playback to make a call. The phone will handle inbound calls properly, though, pausing and resuming as one would expect.

The core problem with the UpStage is that the displays are on the wrong side. One doesn't need a huge display to see the name of the track that is currently playing. A hundred MP3 players on the market and dozens of clamshell mobile phones have shown that. The large display is needed where the keypad is found, though. The UpStage has numeric shortcuts for all of the menus on the main display, but of what use are they without number keys that can be pressed? None at all. If Samsung wants to build another device like the UpStage, the main display will have to be on the keypad side. Were the displays flipped, it would be safe to assume that the UpStage would be able to function fully as a MP3 player with either side activated, as well, just as clamshell phones can play music when opened or closed. But as it stands, the UpStage is a a very tedious phone and a passable MP3 player.


I have to admit that when I first removed the Samsung UpStage from it's yellow Sprint box, I was enthralled with it. Without having yet turned it on, I told my wife how "cool" it was. I knew what its capabilities were, and the physical design was quite appealing. That seemed a recipe for success.

Five minutes of actual use, though, showed me how wrong first impressions can be. Yes, the UpStage has the basic ingredients to be a fantastic music phone. Said ingredients were just put together in the wrong way. It will probably suit a certain demographic of users, I'm sure. But for me, the UpStage is far too Mr. Hyde and not enough Dr. Jekyll. I have to give it a "Not Recommended" rating due to its myriad usability issues.

Not Recommended (explanation)
Great build quality, small/light, stereo Bluetooth, plays non-DRM music
Huge usability isses, constant flipping for text input, poor outbound audio quality
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jeanie @ 8:42:19PM EDT on Saturday September 26, 2009

it sucks

About the author

Michael Oryl
Michael is the Philadelphia based owner and former editor-in-chief of MobileBurn.com. You can follow him on Twitter as @MichaelOryl

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