Mobile multimedia junkies will find plenty of eye and ear candy in the Kyocera Jet, the company's new 3G slider for newcomer carrier Amp'd Mobile. This all-black, EV-DO-enabled handset boasts a slick media player that taps into the Amp'd video and music store, plus a 128MB TransFlash card for storing all your songs and video clips. Unfortunately, the Jet is saddled with an underwhelming VGA camera, a small and annoying keypad, and a tendency to freeze at inopportune moments. While the phone's bargain-basement $100 price tag sweetens the pill--making it one of the cheapest, no-contract 3G phones we've seen--those looking for a powerhouse 3G phone from Amp'd Mobile should wait for the Hollywood, a rebranded version of Motorola's impressive with a 1.3-megapixel camera and Bluetooth, which will be available in the first quarter of 2006. The sleek and appropriately jet-black handset (an all-white version, dubbed Angel, is also available) looks like your garden-variety slider phone. Measuring about 3.9 by 1.9 by 0.9 inches and weighing about 3.9 ounces, the Kyocera Jet is reasonably small and light for a phone in its class and fits easily in a jeans pocket, although we wish the stubby antenna were a bit shorter.
The Kyocera Jet's 1.9-inch, 262,000-color TFT display looked razor sharp to our eyes, with rich, detailed color in our images. We also liked the speedy animated menus, especially in the Amp'd Live channel, where the slick pages and section headings slide in and out of view. That said, we had a tough time reading the LCD in direct sunlight. Below the display are several navigation keys, including soft keys, the Talk and End keys, a Back button, and a four-way navigational keypad in the middle.
Sliding open the Kyocera Jet with our thumb (a disappointingly stiff action) reveals the blue-backlit keypad. Just above the main keypad is a one-press button that activates the built-in camera, as well as a dedicated speakerphone key that actually turns the speakerphone on before you begin a call. Unfortunately, the keys themselves are small and hard to press, and we had to squint to read the tiny letters printed on the keypad.
If you slide the Kyocera Jet shut and turn it to the left edge, you'll find the volume up/down controls, as well as a headset jack and a one-touch button for voice commands, while a dedicated camera button and a slot for the 128MB TransFlash card sit on the right edge of the phone. A plug for the included USB data cable lives on the bottom of the Jet, while on the back of the phone are an external speaker, a camera lens, and an LED flash, as well as a puny and essentially worthless self-portrait mirror. Besides the USB data cable, the Jet comes with a stereo-earbud headset (flimsy but workable) and a fold-up AC adapter.For a $100 handset, the Kyocera Jet comes packed with a generous assortment of features, multimedia and otherwise. Starting with the basics, you get an address book (up to 500 contacts) that holds six phone numbers, two Web addresses, two e-mail addresses, and two street addresses per contact. You also get a calendar with day and month views but no week view; a vibrate mode; picture caller ID; a speakerphone, which can be activated before you're on a call; built-in GPS; voice calling and memos; an alarm clock; a calculator; a timer; and a stopwatch. The Jet boasts push-to-talk functionality, and you can set up PTT groups from your contact book, while the included 128MB TransFlash card lets you store a fair share of songs, videos, and images. Unfortunately, the Jet doesn't include Bluetooth, a feature we've seen on most of the 3G phones we've tested.
The Kyocera Jet's onboard VGA camera does an adequate job of snapping on-the-go photos, but its image quality is nothing to write home about. Our snapshots looked fuzzy and noisy, with washed-out colors. The camera comes with three resolution modes of 640x480, 320x240, and 160x120; a low-light mode; a 3-, 5- and 10-second self-timer; a multishot mode for rapid-fire snapshots, which is a handy feature, considering the phone's ample memory; picture frames; and various white-balance and low-light modes. The camera also doubles as a camcorder, taking characteristically murky videos of up to 15 seconds in length. You can send snapshots and video clips to your buddies via MMS or e-mail, or you can transfer them to your PC with the TransFlash card.