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UTStarcom Slice (Virgin Mobile) review: UTStarcom Slice (Virgin Mobile)

The Virgin Mobile Slice is a slim and lightweight phone, but its tiny, hard-to-press buttons, small screen, and lack of features make it less than perfect. However, its affordability still makes the Slice an attractive option for those who want a thin phone without a carrier contract.

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Nicole Lee
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Nicole Lee

Former Editor

Nicole Lee is a senior associate editor for CNET, covering cell phones, Bluetooth headsets, and all things mobile. She's also a fan of comic books, video games, and of course, shiny gadgets.

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3 min read

6.6

UTStarcom Slice (Virgin Mobile)

The Good

The Virgin Mobile Slice is a small and skinny candy bar handset that features a wireless Web browser and a speakerphone.

The Bad

The Virgin Mobile Slice has a tiny lackluster screen and a membrane keypad that's too flush to the phone's surface.

The Bottom Line

The Virgin Mobile Slice is a slim and lightweight phone, but its tiny, hard-to-press buttons, small screen, and lack of features make it less than perfect. However, its affordability still makes the Slice an attractive option for those who want a thin phone without a carrier contract.
The Virgin Mobile Slice (otherwise known as the UTStarcom PCS1400) is the latest phone to join the thin handset bandwagon. Looking very much like a clone of Cingular's Motorola Slvr L2, the Slice is a skinny candy bar handset with even slimmer features. It has no camera or Bluetooth but it does offer a Web browser and a speakerphone. Virgin Mobile claims that at a price of $49.99 the Slice is the thinnest phone in the U.S. without a contract, and while we can't confirm that, the price certainly makes the phone a steal.


The Virgin Mobile Slice looks a lot like a SLVR clone.

The design of the Slice is evident from its name; the sliver of a handset measures a slight 4.3x1.8x0.4 inches and weighs a mere 2.3 ounces. Available in basic black, the Slice feels almost too lightweight, and we could imagine losing it easily if we weren't careful. It feels fairly blocklike in the hand and not quite as contoured as the Slvr L2, but it was comfortable to hold next to the ear. The left spine is home to the volume rocker, while the headset jack is located on the right spine.

We are rather disappointed by the Slice's tiny 1.5-inch, 65,000-color screen. That said, the colors are bright and vibrant for a basic handset such as this, and we were glad we could adjust the screen's contrast as well as the backlight timer. However, you can't adjust the brightness or the font size.

Below the display are the membrane-like navigation controls and keypad buttons, which are substantially smaller than the keys of any of the Slvr models. The navigation array consists of two soft keys, the Talk and End key, a back button, and a four-way circular toggle complete with a middle OK key. The toggle also doubles as a shortcut to My Account (to top up your Virgin prepaid minutes), to text messaging, to recent calls, and to VirginXL, Virgin's proprietary Web browser. Not only are the keys flush to the surface of the phone, they're also tiny, making it quite tricky to navigate through the menu, text message, and dial by feel. The keypad has a blue backlight when the phone is activated.

Besides being skinny in its design, the Slice is pretty thin on features too. Though both the Slice and the Slvr L2 lack a camera, the Slice doesn't have Bluetooth, which the L2 does. Since it's billed as a basic phone, we found the lack of a camera and Bluetooth acceptable, and even found the lack of camera a good thing, as certain businesses might not allow camera phones in the vicinity. The Slice comes with a 500-entry contacts list, with each entry able to hold four numbers, an e-mail address, and a note. You can assign contacts into groups and even assign them to one of four polyphonic ring tones.

Other features of the Slice include text messaging, a calculator, an alarm clock, a scheduler, a stopwatch, a world clock, and a wireless Web browser that allows users access to VirginXL, Virgin Mobile's mobile Web portal. VirginXL also provides access to an array of personalization options such as ring tones, wallpapers, and screensavers, as well as exclusive content from MTV and Comedy Central. You can also activate the speakerphone feature, but only during a call. The phone comes with three games (Midnight Pool, Sexy Poker 2006, and Platinum Solitaire) but they were only demo versions. You'll have to access Virgin XL in order to purchase and download more games.

We tested the CDMA 1900 Virgin Mobile Slice in San Francisco using the Virgin Mobile network. Audio quality on calls was good and sounded clear from both ends. Sound quality suffered a bit with the speakerphone, as callers had to ask us to speak up a few times, but otherwise it was passable.

The Virgin Mobile Slice has a mediocre rated talk time of 3.83 hours and a rated standby time of 11.25 days. Our tests confirmed the rated talk time with 3 hours and 49 minutes. According to a FCC radiation test, the Virgin Mobile Slice has a digital SAR rating of 1.47 watts per kilogram.

6.6

UTStarcom Slice (Virgin Mobile)

Score Breakdown

Design 6Features 6Performance 7
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