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Virgin Mobile Shuttle: Likeable but underwhelming

We review the Virgin Mobile Shuttle.

Corinne Schulze/CNET

After taking a closer look at the Virgin Mobile Shuttle at CTIA Fall 2008, we managed to get a review unit in house to put the phone through its paces.

I have to say that despite its 3G speeds and location-based services, I was a little underwhelmed by the Shuttle's offerings. Now, this is not to say I dislike it. Indeed, I actually think it's one of the best phones in Virgin Mobile's lineup, with its smooth curved design and sleek slider form factor. Even its 1.3-megapixel camera wasn't too bad, despite the washed-out picture quality.

My main problem with it is that it just doesn't fully make use of the EV-DO speed. It only has a WAP browser, and we couldn't stream video or audio to really test out the 3G. We did manage to load Web pages faster and download games quickly, but that didn't seem enough. And at the time of the review, there was no store where we could download the location-based applications--I had to go to the Where.com Web page directly from the phone's browser, which then proceeded to approximate my location less than accurately (it was a good six or so blocks off).

Of course, these are still early days in the Helio and Virgin Mobile partnership, and we hope to see Virgin Mobile improving its broadband and location-based offerings. I'll definitely revisit the review once we get native location-based applications loaded on the phone. Despite my issues with it, I still gave it a decent rating because it's a pretty good 3G phone with location services for only $99.99 without a contract.

Check out the gallery of the Shuttle for a closer look and read our review for a full rundown of the phone.