Completing the exterior of the handset are a volume rocker on the left spine and a 2.5mm headset jack on the right spine. The FlyPhone includes a stereo-wired headset in the box. The camera lens sits on the rear face of the phone just above an external speaker. The FlyPhone uses a micro USB cable to deliver power; the port is located on the bottom end of the handset but you'll need to shell out an extra $9.99 for a wall charger (you only get a USB cable in the box). An unexpected feature is the microSD card slot, but we wish you didn't need to remove the battery to access it.
The FlyPhone holds 500 contacts that you can program right on the phone (the SIM card holds an additional 250 names). Each contact holds only one phone number, but you can personalize contacts with one of nine MP3 ringtones and a choice of images, pictures, or avatars. The FlyPhone offers a speakerphone, a calendar, an alarm clock, a stopwatch, a countdown timer, a vibrate mode, and text messaging. The handset doesn't offer multimedia messaging, which is both a benefit and a drawback. Though parents might like that their children won't run up a lot of picture messaging charges, it also means you have to connect the phone to a computer to transfer images off of it. Fortunately, this is easy to do, as the FlyPhone acts as a mass USB storage device.
The VGA camera has more features than we were expecting, which makes it more than serviceable for amateur shutterbugs. You can take photos in three resolutions (640x480, 320x240, and 160x120) and select one of three quality settings. Other features include three color tones, a night mode, a self-timer, a multishot mode, and four shutter sounds plus a silent option. Unfortunately, photo quality is pretty dismal.
The FlyPhone's music is very basic, but it's perfectly serviceable on this caliber of phone. On the other hand, anyone used to a standalone MP3 player will be begging for more. You can group music tracks by artist, album, track name, and favorites. The player doesn't support album art, but you can choose from shuffle and repeat modes. Unfortunately, the video player isn't very practical. It has even fewer features, and the phone's small display isn't conducive for extended viewing. On the upside, the music and video controls are easy to use. After activating either feature, the backlighting on the keypad will change again to illuminate only the dedicated player controls.
The FlyPhone offers a healthy 25MB of memory, but you can always store get more capacity with a microSD card. You can personalize the phone with greeting message or a variety of wallpapers. If you want more wallpapers, ringtones, and games, you can download them from the FlyStore using the handset's wireless Web browser. The FlyPhone comes with two demo games--BubbleBash and Jewel Quest--so you'll have to buy the full versions for extend play. What's more, the handset comes with the flyKicks software CD that lets you create and edit your own music, ringtones, and videos. You can transfer your work to the phone plus any music ripped form a CD through the included USB cable.
The FlyPhone offers a set of parental controls. You can limit incoming and outgoing calls and text messages, and you can lock out the calendar. Accessing the parental controls menu requires a PIN number. As an MVNO Firefly doesn't operate a cellular network, but it does have its own service plans. Both the pay-as-you-go and by-the-month options charge for each calling minute and text message plus a daily access fee of 35 cents. The calling and texting rates for the latter plan are cheaper, but you're required to spend a minimum of $15 per month. Once your account balance is depleted, you can top it off on Firefly's Web site.
We tested the dual-band (GSM 850/1900) FlyPhone in San Francisco. Firefly uses AT&T's and T-Mobile's network so your coverage will vary depending on which network you're using. Just keep in mind that the FlyPhone won't have service outside of the United States. In our tests, call quality was satisfying though a bit short of great. There was plenty of volume, but voices sounded sometimes tinny and other times hollow. This isn't a phone for long, deep conversations but it's very appropriate for simply staying in touch. Callers could tell we were using a cell phone, and they said the phone picked up a lot of background noise.