Of the plethora of cellular handsets that manufacturer Samsung is releasing this fall, the Rogue is one of the few that offers a brilliant AMOLED touchscreen display. While it isn’t a smartphone by traditional definitions, shoppers shouldn’t be overly worried, though. Why? Put simply, in many ways, it is one of the more compelling non-smart handsets we’ve had the pleasure of using.
Feature and Design
Measuring up at just over four inches tall and two inches across, the Rogue is on the larger side of the slider phone equation, but not nearly as big as last year’s T-Mobile Sidekick. Wrapped in a gunmetal bezel, the sliding touchscreen features the usual buttons in the usual places with the screen lock, voice command, speaker and camera buttons on the right side of the screen and nothing on the top, bottom, or left side. Classified as a slider phone, the rock solid four-row QWERTY keyboard that makes texting and emailing a breeze is hidden beneath the touchscreen.
The face buttons have a great texture and feel to them, and we especially liked how solid the back key felt. The screen itself is a semi-rigid touch input device, which reacts incredibly quickly and precisely even on Web pages with small links grouped tightly together. It’s a fact that’s very impressive considering the performance of other touchscreens we’ve used.
We had a significant issue with the display, however, when it came to the quality of highlighted images themselves. While text and pictures were razor-sharp, featured hues seemed oddly garish and the color temperature of the screen was off, too. The best comparison we can make is to switch your HDTV to Vivid mode and change the color temperature to Cool to enjoy a similar effect. Essentially, on the Rogue, primary and secondary colors are neon in appearance and white backgrounds have a blue cast to them.
The Rogue may be a bit on the large side, but the size-to-weight ratio is perfect, and the overall feel of the phone is incredibly solid. The screen slides up with a satisfying snap, but the left side has about a sixteenth of an inch of play, making the phone feel slightly less sturdy than we had hoped. We would have liked to have seen a rubberized finish on the battery cover similar to that at the top and bottom of the handset, because the carbon mesh finish did nothing to make chances of the phone slipping out of our hands feel less likely.
Ports and Connectors
Samsung used a proprietary input jack for charging and data transfer, which isn’t something we approve of, but the inclusion of a 3.5mm headphone jack almost made us forget about that misstep. Unlike other handsets though, the Rogue’s micro-SD card doesn’t spring lock into place, making removing the minuscule card a chore if you don’t have a pen or tweezers handy.
Can a phone serve as a workable PMP?
In the case of the Rogue, yes. Featuring the well-stocked V Cast store, a wealth of free streaming videos, and a great interface for playing your own music, the Rogue could replace any iPod model except the Touch without a problem. As far as overall audio quality goes, headphones are a necessity for music listening, but the internal speaker proved perfectly serviceable for conversations and streaming video.
The only places we lost signal were in concrete office and school buildings – other than that, Verizon’s service proved spectacular. No-look touchscreen dialing is made even easier with the Digital Dial Readout calling the numbers back to you as you dial. Moreover, the face buttons feel great.
We loved that we could finally set our own homepages with Verizon’s browser. It took roughly seven seconds to go from opening the browser to our mobile Gmail inbox display. The Digital Trends homepage took sixteen seconds to load, with layout being optimized for the phone’s display, showcasing the speed of Verizon’s 3G network impressively.
The onboard 3 megapixel camera captures tons of detail, much to the phone’s credit. However, the inaccurate display colors and limited options offered for adjusting brightness and contrast won’t have you throwing away your compact point-and-shoot digital camera anytime soon.
Samsung rates the Rogue’s standard battery life at 282 minutes. In our tests we were able to squeeze about five hours of heavy use – Web surfing, email, instant messaging, etc. – before the phone bit the dust, which is by no means impressive. The extended battery is rated at 456 minutes, but was not included with our test unit.
The Rogue is a compelling phone overall, but as far as general viewing conditions go, especially for those used to watching finely-calibrated HDTVs, the screen can be problematic to look at. In addition, while the on-board music player is awesome and so is the keyboard as well, we wish the pack-in battery had more juice. As it stands, for $100 with a two-year contract, the Rogue is one of the better entry-level phones we’ve tested, though not without its share of drawbacks.
- Great keyboard feel
- Chic styling
- Battery life
- Garish display
- Screen hinge feels on the cheap side