Last year I was wondering whether the dual-hinge cellphone design was cursed. Motorola's MPx was hotly anticipated but then fizzled out - a victim of overly-long design evolution and the rest of the market overtaking it - and while there have been a few other concepts and prototypes offering dual-direction flip fun both consumers and manufacturers have erred toward more traditional clamshell designs. Samsung must be hoping to break that curse with their SCH-u740, and MobileBurn's Michelle Ruhfass spent a week wondering if she'd be crushed under a shower of dead frogs.
It's a reasonable idea: for voice calls it's better to have a portrait clamshell, which fits the contour of the average face, while for messaging you'll get more mileage out of a landscape orientation with a broad QWERTY keyboard and wider-than-it-is-high screen. The problem - well, one of them, anyway - is making a hinge (or, in the case of the MPx, hinges) that are sturdy enough to survive the multi-directional twisting. Michelle found that the u740's hinge - made of plastic - started out feeling sturdy but over the space of a week began to get ominously loose.
Blinding ourselves to construction for a moment, let's grope avidly at the specs. Samsung are going all out with the u740, though with a few notable exceptions, and obviously have other smartphones such as the Treo, E61 and Q in their sights. 3G for high-speed downloads, a full bevy of SMS, MMS, video and IM messaging (the latter boasting MSN, Yahoo! and AIM support, as well as Verizon's own home-grown service); you'd hope, then, for a more comfortable typing experience. The keys are small, and the hinge assembly impairs the left hand.
A 1.3-megapixel camera and no stereo Bluetooth round out the disappointments, although the former produces reasonable shots (for a non-autofocus camera) and the latter supports wireless synchronisation. Media support includes Verizon's V-Cast download service as well as the onboard video and music player, with basic flip-mounted transport controls for fumbling at while you're on the bus.
As usual, MobileBurn goes into great detail and it's worth reading the whole review. The SCH-u740 is available from Verizon priced at $139.99 after rebates and assuming you're happy with a soul-debasing two year contract.
Samsung SCH-u740 Review [MobileBurn]