Today it’s rare to find a phone that doesn’t want to check your email, do GPS and run Facebook. Aside from phone calls, the Samsung Juke really only does one thing: play music. Streamlining makes the Juke cheap, compact and lightweight. Unfortunately, despite having a singular purpose, the Juke’s music quality pales compared to more expensive cell phones.
Verizon’s Samsung Juke is available for $129.99 USD with a 2-year commitment. Verizon offers a $50 online discount, dropping it to $80 – a fair price for the phone. It falls under Verizon’s standard plans. The Juke has 2 GB internal memory, which should be plenty for its low-resolution photos and a decent music collection.
Features and Design
The Samsung Juke is fairly thick at about an inch, and is made up of two parts. The bottom half is a crystal-like keypad along with standard buttons like the power key and send, including a camera key. The buttons themselves are almost flat, but the ridges between them are just wide enough to feel the indentation. They are small – no thumb pressing here.
The top half is a thin vertical screen, about ¾ of an inch across and an inch and a half tall. Below the screen is a radial dial, smooth, yet ridged, not unlike a vinyl record. From a practical standpoint, it’s close cousins with the iPod dial.
Samsung has kept the details simple. The model we tested was a metallic blue with shiny silver trim (It is also available in red and black). There are only a couple of switches on the side: on the left, volume control buttons, and on the right, a key lock switch and a well hidden external wire connector. On the back is a small camera lens. When closed, the thick device only shows its vertical screen and radial dial control. Use your thumb to push the screen to the right, clockwise, and the top half with jut out like a switchblade.
Setup and Use
The Samsung Juke comes with a USB connector, wall plug and earphones, which is basically all you need to get the most out of the device. It is a music phone.
The music is available by just hitting the center of the radial dial (which is the equivalent of the OK button). It asks if you want to listen to music, get music through the V-Cast direct download service or sync it to a music library on the computer.
Verizon’s V-Cast multimedia software is required to sync, and it only works on Windows XP or Vista-enabled PCs – no Macs here. It was a fairly small 20 MB, available online at http://www.vzam.net/vcastmusic/. V-Cast will grab all your music and make it available in its iTunes-like library browser. Plug the Juke in and, using a drag-and-drop method, move any songs, playlists or albums to the device. They transfer quickly, as in about one second each song. The battery will also charge via the USB.
Image Courtesy of Samsung
The Juke music setup is solid. Go into Music mode and the phone asks you to switch the top half down, essentially turning the Juke into a thick iPod shuffle. Hold it horizontally. With the radial dial (now on the right) you can control the music, skipping, playing and pausing songs. The now horizontal screen displays the current list of music. It’s a basic, what looks to be 16-color display, but it gets the job done.
The phone speakers are pretty good, at least for solo use – look to another music phone, like, say, the MOTORAZR2 V8 for strong sounds. On the other hand, the included headphones are as good as any pair of iPod earphones.
There’s not much else to the Juke. The camera is easy to use, but requires the phone be fully extended – imaging taking a picture with a long, tall camera. The vertical design of the actual display makes for odd pictures. There is no flash.
The camera is surprisingly supple. Press the camera button, push the first bar up and turn the phone on its side. Now using the vertical screen as a viewfinder and the horizontal touchscreen as a button, the Venus actually feels like a real camera. The pictures are solid, too, especially considering we’re getting the now-standard 2 Megapixel resolution and no flash.
Samsung should be commended for creating an affordable, sole purpose phone. The problem is that the sound quality is weak. Discounts make the price comparable to an iPod Shuffle, but music connoisseurs should just pony up another $100 and get a better music phone.
• Great price
• Clean design
• Pick up and play
• Throwaway camera
• Below-average speakers