After a brief interlude at CTIA earlier this year, we've had another chance to play around with Samsung's funky little Highnote for Sprint recently, so we wanted to give our quick, stream-of-consciousness thoughts on what this music-focused dual slider is all about. The phone's claim to fame is its hidden integrated loudspeaker for blasting tunes, which can be exposed by sliding the front downward (a la Nokia N95 and the like). While we found the speaker to be loud and reasonably clear enough for occasional impromptu dance parties, we didn't think it was any louder than similar handsets that have more traditional mono or stereo loudspeakers integrated into the body of the phone. In other words, the dual slide is a bit of a gimmick here.
Gallery | 14 Photos
Hands-on with the Samsung Highnote
On the flip side, we really enjoyed the scrollable wheel, which can also be clicked on the cardinal directions; both navigational methods worked really well, especially in combination with Sprint's new One Click feature phone UI. The keypad had virtually no feel to it, but for whatever reason, we found that we didn't have any trouble with mistyped digits, and we thought that the dedicated messaging key was a clever idea for a phone in this class. The placement of the talk, back, end, and soft keys as segments of a circle around the nav wheel was a little inconvenient -- we would've preferred something a little more traditional here.
At any rate, when you factor in the 3.5mm headphone jack, the Highnote ends up making for a totally serviceable midrange music phone -- not great for heavy talkers, texters, browsers, or business users, no, but if your top priority in your average day involves managing to fit in a few tracks' worth of music on the go, this might be just the slider for you.