Thanks to the popularity of text messaging, cell phones with QWERTY keyboards aren't confined to just smartphones anymore. Following the footsteps of handsets like the LG Rumor, the Verizon Wireless Blitz (made by UTStarcom) is what the industry is calling a messaging phone--a phone with a full QWERTY keyboard without the typical complexities of a smartphone. In short, a BlackBerry for the rest of us. The Blitz's strength lies in its messaging capabilities, of course, but it also has decent multimedia features, and we definitely like the call quality. Our only complaint is the lack of EV-DO, but for $49.99 after a $50 rebate and a two-year service agreement, it's not a bad deal.
The Blitz may best be described as a fat little cell phone. Measuring 3.5 inches long by 2.6 inches wide by 0.7 inch thick, the Blitz is a square and squat device with rounded edges all around, giving it a comical yet cute appearance. The reason it's so wide is because the phone slides open to reveal a full QWERTY keyboard, which makes this a great messaging phone. The phone sits very well in the hand, and is perfectly designed for thumb-typing. The slider mechanism is solid, and can be opened and closed just by pushing upward/downward on the screen.
Right on the front of the Blitz is a lovely 2.2-inch display, which fits 220x176 pixels and supports up to 262,000 colors, giving images and graphics a nice rich hue. We also like the menu interface, and thankfully the Blitz comes with three different menu style options; grid, list, and the traditional Verizon tabs. You can adjust the backlight time, the dialing fonts, and the clock format, but not the brightness or contrast.
Underneath the display are the navigation keys, which consist of the two soft keys, a four-way square toggle with a middle OK key, a dedicated speakerphone key, a Clear key that also doubles as a voice command key, and the Talk and End/Power keys on either side. The up, left, and down button on the toggle doubles as three user-defined shortcuts, and the right button leads to a My Shortcuts menu, which lists up to four additional user-defined shortcuts. On the right spine are the charger jack, a dedicated music player key, a dedicated camera key, and a microSD card slot, and the headset jack and the volume rocker sit on the left spine. On the back are a camera lens, a self-portrait mirror, and a speaker grille.
Slide the phone open and you'll find a surprisingly roomy QWERTY keyboard. It is well-spaced and well laid out, with special keys like a Caps lock key, a Symbol key, and a dedicated My Messaging key (which leads to the messaging menu). The number keys are specially marked in blue toward the left--you can start dialing just by pressing those keys. Overall, we found the QWERTY keyboard very easy to use. The keys are raised enough above the surface that it was a breeze to dial and to type out text. We can definitely see how the Blitz would be a great phone for messaging fanatics.