Short Version: The $99-after-rebate Quickfire from AT&T is an appealing alternative for the Sidekick crowd, but the promotion of AT&T’s music features without including earbuds or even some sort of adapter for the proprietary connector a real head-scratcher.
Overview and Features:
- 3G handset with a full HTML web browser and a 320×240 touchscreen that slides up to reveal a nice QWERTY keyboard
- 1.3-megapixel camera
- Support for subscription music via Napster Mobile, plus support for MP3, AAC, AAC+, AMR, MIDI, and streaming radio formats
- Built-in AIM, Windows Live Messenger, and Yahoo! Messenger along with support for AOL, Windows Live, and Yahoo! e-mail
- Bluetooth, Quad-band, high-speed data connections
- 29MB of on-board memory expandable via microSD cards up to 8GB
- Up to three hours of talk time
- Priced at $99 after two-year contract and $50 mail-in rebate
The Quickfire is aimed at younger generations of text-happy kids and, thankfully, it excels in pretty much every aspect of the messaging department. Whether your favorite means of word transference is IM, e-mail, or text messaging, the Quickfire handles each with ease. Conversely, if you’re one of those people who still prefers to actually talk on the phone the Quickfire makes clear calls, so you’re covered there, too. The QWERTY keyboard is spacious and easy to use, though the keys are a bit flat.
Most of the other features – the HTML browser, the 1.3-megapixel camera, the touchscreen, and the battery life – are all average to slightly above average, but the real story is that they’re all included for $99. As the phone is marketed towards kids, though, most of the action is in the messaging features. The rest is a nice bonus.
The touchscreen, while nice to have on such an inexpensive phone, seems to have some issues with responsiveness. Scrolling up and down web pages induces a bit of lag from time to time and I found myself having to double or triple tap menu items every now and again. It’s not bad enough to steer anyone away from the Quickfire, it’s just something to consider. Finger scrolling will take some getting used to, as well, because it’s upside-down compared to most phones. Take the iPhone, for instance: sliding your finger up the screen makes a web page scroll down. Same with most other touchscreen phones. On the Quickfire, however, you slide your finger up to make the browser and menu items scroll up, and down to make everything scroll down. It sounds more logical, in theory, but it feels weird and takes time to pick up.
The Polaris HTML web browser is a valiant attempt and a nice addition to such an inexpensive phone, but unfortunately it’s too slow and renders many popular sites too awkwardly for any serious surfing (note the cut-off labels and weird font sizing in the Gmail screenshot below). It’s nice to have in a pinch, though.
The biggest issue with the Quickfire – and one that could easily be fixed – is that it’s touted as a music-friendly phone, yet there are no included headphones and no 2.5- or 3.5-mm headphone jack. There’s a proprietary connector (see below) on the top of the device that’s used with the included charger, and adapters to change the connector to a 3.5-mm headphone jack can be found online for under $20, but such an adapter isn’t available on AT&T’s site, nor is it included in the box. If you’re going to push music features, you have to give people some way to hook up headphones besides the Bluetooth connection. Bluetooth music headphones aren’t cheap.
If you don’t mind doing some extra legwork for a headphone adapter and you don’t need to use the web browser all that much, the AT&T Quickfire is a good, affordable option for a younger crowd that loves to send text messages, IMs, and e-mail.
AT&T Quickfire [AT&T Wireless]