Editors' note: We incorrectly reported on how to bring up the onscreen dialpad in our original review, which has now been updated. We apologize for the error.
While the other carriers have completely embraced full QWERTY handsets, Virgin Mobile's been lacking in that department. Up until now, there have only been two choices: the Helio Ocean 2, which might be too fancy for some, and the outdated Kyocera Wild Card, which debuted back in 2007. Fortunately, there is now the Kyocera X-tc to bring a fresh face to the mix. The handset brings an updated design and better keyboard to complement its e-mail and instant messaging capabilities. The X-tc also now includes Facebook and MySpace mobile apps, which should please the carrier's younger audience. There are some issues with the phone's navigation and call volume, but overall, we'd have to say the X-tc is a good choice for Virgin America customers in need of a basic messaging phone. The Kyocera X-tc, aka the Kyocera G2Go, is available for $99.99.
The Kyocera X-tc features a simple but attractive design with a standard black chassis and rounded edges; it is certainly a more stylish option than the older Kyocera Wild Card. The slider phone is fairly compact at 4.3 inches high by 2 inches wide by 0.6 inch thick and 4.8 ounces and has a solid construction. It's comfortable to hold while on a call or typing messages.
On front, there's a 2.4-inch QVGA display with a 262,000-color output and 240x320-pixel resolution. It's bright and sharp, though Virgin Mobile's interface is a little drab. You can customize the phone with different wallpapers, themes, graphics, screensavers, and more.
Below the screen, there's a standard navigation array of two soft keys, Talk and End buttons, a speakerphone on/off button, a back key, and a four-way navigation toggle with a center select button. With the exception of the latter, the navigation keys are a bit small and stiff to press so we didn't have the best user experience. On the plus side, we like the ability to activate the speakerphone with just a press of a button. Kyocera also includes dedicated music buttons above the display--play/pause, forward, back--which is nice and convenient.
The X-tc comes with a full QWERTY keyboard, which you can access by pushing the screen to the left. The sliding mechanism is smooth, and the screen orientation also automatically switches from portrait to landscape mode. The keyboard features rectangular buttons that are of pretty good size, but unfortunately, the layout feels a bit squashed, so it hampered us just a bit. That said, we like the fact that Kyocera did away with internal navigation toggle that was on the Kyocera Wild Card.
The number keys are highlighted in silver on the keyboard, but the numbers are printed vertically, unlike the rest of the letter keys, so you have to crane your neck or rotate the phone to input numbers. To bring up the onscreen dialpad when the phone is closed, you press the center select button, though our first inclination was to press the Talk key.
On the left spine, there's a camera activation/capture button and a volume rocker, while there's a Micro-USB port, a 2.5 millimeter headset jack, and a microSD expansion slot on the right side. Finally, the camera is located on the back.