Samsung Reality SCH-u820 review: Samsung Reality SCH-u820

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The Good The Samsung Reality has an intuitive display, three home screens, a 3.5mm headset jack, a nice keyboard, and features that include a 3.2-megapixel camera, GPS, and stereo Bluetooth.

The Bad The Samsung Reality isn't quite as good as the Samsung Rogue, has almost the same design and features, and is also on Verizon Wireless. We also wished the photo quality was better.

The Bottom Line On its own, the Samsung Reality is a great midrange multimedia phone, but it doesn't hold a candle to the Rogue, which has a better design and better features.

7.7 Overall
  • Design 7
  • Features 8
  • Performance 8

At first glance, the Samsung Reality seems like a successor to the wildly popular Samsung Rogue from last year; both have touch-screen displays, slide-out QWERTY keyboards, and are from Verizon Wireless. But if you look a little closer, the Reality is a little more scaled down than its older cousin. The design isn't quite as polished and it has EV-DO Rev. 0 instead of EV-DO Rev. A. Still, the Reality offers multiple home screens and several social features that are missing from the Rogue. If you evaluate it on its own, the Reality is a very good midrange multimedia phone, but if you compare it to the Rogue, you'll find yourself wanting more. The Samsung Reality is available for $79.99 with a two-year service agreement from Verizon Wireless.

Measuring 4.23 inches long by 2.09 inches wide by 0.65 inch thick, the Reality almost matches the Rogue in terms of shape and size. It shares the Rogue's same boxy look, with curved corners and rounded edges, though it is a little lighter at 4 ounces as opposed to the Rogue's 4.94. The Reality also has a decidedly glossier sheen all the way around, which makes it much more susceptible to fingerprint smudges. It comes in both black and red, and has an interesting grid pattern on the back.

The Samsung Reality has a 3-inch touch-screen display.

The display is where we start to really see the difference between the Rogue and the Reality. Instead of the stunning 3.1-inch AMOLED of the Rogue, the Reality gets a relatively pedestrian 3-inch WQVGA display. This isn't to say it's bad-- we actually quite like the 262,000 color support and the 240x400-pixel resolution--but it just doesn't match up to the Rogue. You can adjust the backlight time, the shortcut icons on the main menu, the dial font size, the menu font style, the color of the lock screen font, the clock format on the home screen, and the transition effect between menus.

Like many other Samsung touch-screen phones, the Reality comes with the TouchWiz interface, which is a collapsible tray on the left side of the home screen that consists of several widgets and shortcuts. One of the widgets new to the Reality is a Communities widget that offers quick access to seven social networks and photo/video sharing sites, Facebook, Flickr, Twitter, Friendster, MySpace, PhotoBucket, and YouTube.

You can have up to three different home screens on the Reality, and the TouchWiz is accessible on all of them. You are also free to customize each home screen by dragging and dropping different shortcuts from the TouchWiz tray. Along the bottom row of each home screen are shortcuts to the phone dialer, the contacts list, the messaging menu, and the main menu. The phone dialer offers a roomy virtual keypad plus shortcuts to the contacts menu, groups, and favorites. You can also tap out a new text message via the virtual keypad and the T9 method if you don't want to use the physical keyboard for some reason.

The resistive touch screen is not as responsive as capacitive ones, but it's still intuitive and easy to use. You can add haptic and audio feedback to your finger taps if you'd like, and you can then adjust the vibration intensity, the sound effect, and the volume level.

Aside from the touch screen, you also get a few physical controls. There are the Send, Back/Clear, and End/Power keys underneath the display, and the volume rocker and screen lock key on the left spine. The charger jack is on the left side as well. On the right are the microSD card slot, the voice command key, the speakerphone key, and the camera/camcorder key. The speakerphone and voice command keys double as zoom controls for the camera. On the back is the camera lens and a self-portrait mirror. A 3.5-mm headset jack sits on top.

The Samsung Reality has a slide-out QWERTY keyboard.

Slide the phone to the right, and you'll reveal a full four-row QWERTY keyboard. The keyboard is spacious and we like that each key is slightly raised above the surface for faster typing. There's a dedicated number row, a navigation array, and the typical shift and function keys. The A, W, S, D keys plus the navigation arrows are grayed out for gaming purposes. Unfortunately, the Reality's keyboard is much more cramped than the Rogue's and the keys themselves are smaller.

When you slide open the phone, the display changes orientation from portrait to landscape mode. The Reality also has an internal accelerometer that can change the screen's orientation without you having to open the phone, though this only works with certain applications, like the Web browser.

The Reality has a 1000-entry phone book with room in each entry for five numbers, two e-mail addresses, an instant-messaging screen name, two street addresses, a company title, a photo, a birthday, and a note. You can then assign contacts into groups and pair them with one of 17 ringtones and alerts.

Basic features include a vibrate mode, a speakerphone, a calendar, a calculator, an alarm clock, a stop watch, a world clock, a notepad, a sketchpad, and a timer. There's also voice command, USB mass storage mode, a file viewer that lets you read Microsoft Office documents, GPS with VZ Navigator support, and stereo Bluetooth.

The Reality comes with a slew of messaging features. Of course, there's the usual text and multimedia messaging (with threaded conversations), but you also get voice messaging and instant messaging (AIM, Windows Live, and Yahoo). As for e-mail, there are three options: mobile e-mail, which is a downloadable application that lets you get e-mail directly to your phone; corporate email, which lets you get your work e-mail and calendar via RemoSync; and mobile Web e-mail that simply gives you quick access to Web mail services like Yahoo Mail and Gmail. There's also visual voice mail, but that costs $3 a month. The mobile e-mail app is $5 and the corporate e-mail option requires a $9.99 a month subscription.

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