Kyocera Slider Sonic KX5B (Virgin Mobile) review: Kyocera Slider Sonic KX5B (Virgin Mobile)

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The Good Sleek form factor; light for its size; MP3/WMA player; camera and video recorder; 32MB TransFlash card; speakerphone; stereo headset with in-line remote.

The Bad No Bluetooth; low picture resolution on the camera; stiff slider mechanism; can't transfer photos to a PC with TransFlash card or via USB; no 3G or 2.5G support; tinny sound quality on the headset; so-so battery life.

The Bottom Line Virgin Mobile puts a multimedia spin on its phone lineup with the sleek but ultimately disappointing Kyocera Slider Sonic.

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6.3 Overall
  • Design 6
  • Features 7
  • Performance 6

Kyocera Slider Sonic

Virgin Mobile puts a multimedia spin on its phone lineup with the sleek but ultimately disappointing Kyocera Slider Sonic. Armed with a VGA camera, a video recorder, an above-average music player, and a 32MB TransFlash card, the lightweight Slider Sonic--easily Virgin's most powerful handset to date--gets off to a strong start but stumbles with its subpar photo resolution, lack of Bluetooth connectivity, crippled TransFlash and USB features, and stiff sliding action. Virgin Mobile customers who crave music on their phones might enjoy the Slider Sonic, but pay-as-you-go chatters who want a cutting-edge multimedia phone might be better off jumping to a powerhouse such as ESPN Mobile's upcoming EV-DO-enabled Sanyo MVP. It's also costly as Virgin Mobile phones go, with a price tag of $249. The all-black Kyocera Slider Sonic is made for the nightlife; its smooth lines, silver navigation buttons, brilliant, ample LCD, and slider form factor is bound to make an impression. Unfortunately, the phone's actual sliding action is disappointingly rigid compared with that of other slider handsets we've tested. Rather than springing open with a nudge of a thumb, such as with the Samsung MM-A800, the phone slides open stiffly, and two hands are needed to open or close it all the way. But at 3.9 by 1.9 by 0.9 inches, the Slider Sonic is reasonably compact, although its stubby antenna makes for a tight fit in a jeans pocket. And at a svelte 3.9 ounces, the phone feels pleasantly light for its size.

The Slider Sonic has an eye-catching style.

The Kyocera Slider Sonic's bright 262,000-color display looks splendid, though it's tough to see in direct sunlight. Measuring a little less than 2 inches diagonally, the razor-sharp screen made our snapshots look rich and detailed. We also enjoyed, however, the cool Wheel of Fortune-like menus that were also on the Kyocera KX2 Koi. Just below the display are the Kyocera's primary controls, including a five-way navigational keypad (which doubles as a shortcut to four user-defined features), a pair of soft keys, Talk and End buttons, and a small Back button. The keys are well sized and easy to manipulate. Sliding open the phone reveals the blue-backlit keypad, complete with dedicated speakerphone and music player buttons; and yes, for once, you can turn on the speakerphone before beginning a call. The handset's keys are broad and easy to push, though they are flush with the surface of the phone.

Along the left edge of the phone sits a volume rocker and a plastic flap covering the 2.5mm headphone port, while a dedicated camera button sits on the right edge, just above the TransFlash card slot, which is also protected by a rubber flap. Turn the phone around, and you'll find the speaker grille, along with the camera lens, a self-portrait mirror, and a small flash. The Kyocera Slider Sonic comes with a nice selection of extras in the box, including a plastic belt holster, a USB cable for file transfers, and stereo earbuds with an in-line remote/microphone.

Beginning with the basics, the Kyocera Slider Sonic comes with a 500-entry phone book with room in each contact for multiple entries. There's also a calendar with week and day views but no week view; text and multimedia messaging; a WAP 2.0 wireless Web browser; voice dialing and memos; a vibrate mode; a speakerphone, which, as we mentioned above, can be activated before a call; a tip calculator; an alarm clock; a calculator; a countdown timer; and a world clock. In addition to the phone's 16MB of shared memory, you get the 32MB TransFlash card for storing music but no photos, unfortunately (see below). If you need more space, the phone can support cards up to 512MB. Missing from the mix are Bluetooth and a streaming video player, which would seem a natural fit, given the phone's other multimedia capabilities.

The Slider Sonic's camera comes with a flash and a self-portrait mirror.

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