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For many people, the cell phone isn't just for communicating with friends and family; it can also be a lifeline in times of crisis. Indeed, a very good reason to own a cell phone is simply for those rare emergency situations when you need help pronto. It is with that philosophy in mind that UTStarcom and Verizon Wireless have teamed up to offer the Verizon Wireless Coupe. Called the Coupe because of its sleek and compact design, the phone has three buttons marked I, C, and E just for "In Case of Emergency" numbers. This is in addition to a dedicated 911 button already on the keypad. Clearly, this phone is meant for those concerned with getting help as soon as possible--maybe for senior citizens, kids, or those with specific health-care needs. Aside from that, the phone is pretty basic--no MMS, no camera, no Bluetooth--but if all you want is a phone for emergency purposes, the Coupe fits the bill. The Coupe is very affordable at $19.99 with a two-year service agreement.
As far as basic phones go, the Coupe is certainly on the stylish side. Measuring at 3.8 inches by 1.8 inches by 0.8 inch, the phone draws its design inspiration from its automobile namesake with its long, sleek, yet compact, body. Though the Coupe has a mostly black coat, it is nicely accented by hints of red, white, and blue all around the phone. It is also quite lightweight at only 3.3 ounces and fits nicely in the hand.
The Coupe has a monochrome 1.1-inch diagonal external display on the front, which displays the typical date and time information as well as signal and battery strength. It also shows caller ID when available. A dedicated voice-dial button and charger jack sit on the Coupe's right spine, while the volume rocker and headset jack are on the left.
Flip open the phone and you'll find a very nice and vibrant 2.0-inch 262,000-color display. Colors look brilliant on the screen, and we especially like how clear all the menu options looked. The menu interface is extremely easy to understand, with large fonts all around for easier legibility. You can adjust the dialing font for a larger size as well. We do wish there were brightness or contrast settings, but there is at least a backlight timer for the display.
Right underneath the display is a row of three letters in bright red, "I," "C," and "E," which stand for In Case of Emergency. Each letter represents a button that can be assigned to an emergency number of your choice. Assigning the number is pretty easy--just press on the key and follow the prompts to enter in the phone number. You can also change the assigned number by holding the key down a little longer. This is a pretty excellent design feature that'll make it easy for anyone to contact someone instantly in time of need.
Underneath that is the regular navigation array. It consists of two soft keys, a four-way toggle that doubles as four user-defined shortcuts, a middle OK key, and then the Send, Clear, and End/Power keys. There's also a dedicated speakerphone key, and a dedicated 911 key, both of which we think are very nice to have. All the keys on the keypad were a pleasure to use--they're well-spaced and have a bubbled texture that is raised above the surface of the phone. We also appreciate the large font on the alphanumeric keypad.
Aside from the emergency keys, the Verizon Wireless Coupe is the epitome of basic phones--which is to say, it is almost bereft of features. However, you do get a 500-entry address book, with room in each entry for five numbers. Each entry can then be assigned one of 25 ringtones and alerts, as well as a picture for caller ID. But bear in mind that the picture ID doesn't seem to be usable because the phone doesn't have a camera, and the external screen doesn't support photo caller ID. In fact, there doesn't seem to be a way to add pictures to the phone because there is no wireless Web browser.
Other features of the Coupe include a speakerphone, voice-dial capability, a vibrate mode, text messaging, a calendar, an alarm clock, a world clock, a notepad, a stop watch, a calculator, and a tip calculator. And there's very little else--no multimedia messaging, no Web browser, and no Bluetooth. Since there's no Web browser, personalization options are limited as well. There's a choice of 10 different wallpapers, two different menu styles, the choice of greeting banners, and that's about it.
We tested the Verizon Wireless Coupe (CDMA 800/1900) with the Verizon Wireless network in San Francisco. Call quality was decent but not quite as excellent as we're used to with Verizon phones. There was noticeable static in the background, and it was very clear that we were using a cell phone. Callers heard us just fine, however, and vice versa. Voices sounded a tad crackly at times, too. Speakerphone calls were similar, though we did like the loud volume and that we didn't have to strain our voices too much in order for callers to hear us.
The Verizon Wireless Coupe has a rated battery life of 3.6 hours of talk time and 9.5 days of standby time. The tested talk time ended up being 3 hours and 33 minutes, which is pretty close to the rated time. According to FCC radiation tests, the Verizon Wireless Coupe has a SAR rating of 0.628 watt per kilogram.