Samsung announced on Monday the third generation of its dual-hinged SCH-U740 messaging phone. The Alias 2 for Verizon Wireless adds more significant changes than the second generation Alias brought to the table, but it retains the same basic shape.
Its biggest attraction is an "E Ink" keyboard that changes according to user needs. When you open the phone vertically, the buttons shows only a numeric keypad for dialing. But when you open it horizontally, the buttons morph into a full QWERTY keyboard. Other controls, such as the navigation arrows and the soft keys, also change positions.
The effect is similar to the Moto's ModeShift keypads, but is a bit more advanced. Instead of a just a different backlighting for the keys, the characters on the buttons actually change. We saw it in action last month at CTIA. Though we were sworn to secrecy at the time, it looked very cool, so we can't wait to try it out for ourselves.
Other changes from the SCH-U740 include a 2-megapixel camera and support for corporate e-mail syncing through RemoSync. You'll also find VZ Navigator, Verizon's Visual Voice Mail (with the requisite $2.99 monthly charge), a personal organizer, a wireless Web browser, a speakerphone, EV-DO, stereo Bluetooth, messaging, and a microSD card slot.
The Alias 2 is available May 11 for $79.99 with a $50 mail-in rebate. We should have a review model in the next few days.