Out of all of Verizon's holiday lineup, the most anticipated (and the most hyped) has been the Voyager. A clamshell with full touchscreen on the outside and QWERTY keypad for fulsome messaging on the inside, it's been granted the usual title of "iPhone Killer" and Verizon's Chief Marketing Officer Mike Lanman pushed out all his chips by saying "we think it'll be the best phone ... it will kill the iPhone". SlashGear's Vincent Nguyen cajoled some hands-on time with the Voyager at CTIA - including some exclusive video of it in action - and gave some preliminary feedback; we'll be bringing you a full review later on when we've had time to really get to know the handset's quirks.
Check out the hands-on video with the Verizon Voyager after the cut...
Made by LG, the Voyager's interface is similar to that of the Prada, only in full colour rather than the fashion-phone's "goes with everything" monochrome; it also uses the same capacitive touchscreen, with none of the flex of traditional passive touchscreens. Where it differs, though, is in size and the haptic feedback you receive when using it: the panel is comfortably larger, and each time you press an icon or make a menu selection it pulses slightly to let you know you've chosen it. Tricky to explain, but in practice it works brilliantly, adding that extra degree of physicality that makes some people prefer hardware keyboards over on-screen.
Of course, if you want a physical keyboard then you only have to flip open the Voyager and there's a full QWERTY layout, together with stereo speakers flanking the second screen. It's not much smaller than the outer display, but since you're expected to navigate using the D-pad it's not touch-sensitive. As you'd expect, the Voyager supports the full gamut of messaging options - SMS, MMS, IM and email - as well as having a decent HTML browser that can either be used with the handset closed, tapping on links, or open, using the keyboard to navigate through the page. It lacks the visual flourish of the iPhone's mobile Safari browser, but blows the Prada's stilted, under-developed example out of the water.
First impressions, then, are pretty positive. The Voyager's selling point - trick touchscreen and sexy clamshell action aside - will be Verizon's high-speed cellular broadband, which will inevitably overshadow the iPhone's reliance on dowdy EDGE. But where the iPhone excels is the purity of the user experience; it remains to be seen whether there's simply too much Verizon in the Voyager to make it not just a "good" handset but a "great" one.
There are plenty more photos of the new Verizon handsets in the SlashGear Gallery; keep reading SlashGear for our full review of the Verizon Voyager by LG, coming soon!