I bought the kin twom 3 days ago. We qualified for the new every 2 free phone, contract renewal deal, so i've been looking around for a few weeks, doing my research on forums here and there. So, i already knew most of the quirks by the time i bought it. To those who have made detailed reviews, thank you. It helped me decide whether to buy this phone or not. So to contribute back and perhaps help others searching for answers to the Kin twom, I am making a review/FAQ/Q&A to hopefully help answer questions, add my own insight, as well as information that i've found from scouring this and other forums. I also have a few questions of my own that i will ask. It will cover many questions that i have seen asked around, questions i had in mind before i bought the phone, as well as questions and observations i now have.
***and i am hoping somewhere a verizon/microsoft rep is reading this and passes the message along..that this is one of the best feature phones out there, all it needs a a few minor firmware/software fixes, and really is as close to the 'perfect' feature phone that i and many others have been looking for***
This is a very long review, so I will post it in separate posts (apologies for the double.. 10x post).
**1 Overview, pro's and cons
**2 Physical quality
**4 Phone: calls, messaging, etc
**7 Secondary apps: alarm, calculator, calendar
Background: my old phone was a razr v3m, back to the stone ages. It was a free phone when i bought it, and i was looking for a free phone upon upgrade too. This phone is $50, but for a one-time charge, that was within budget for me. I also used the new every 2 $100 towards purchase offer to get it free. That being said, this could be why i love this phone, because in nearly every way, it was a HUGE improvement. The type of things i was looking for in a phone: good call quality, qwerty keyboard,
good camera. I mainly use my phone..as a phone. Call, text, and because i don't carry a camera around with me,
having an 8 mp with me and HD video was a huge bonus. I don't mind touchscreens, as long as it has a separate keyboard with it (i can't stand just having a touch keyboard, because you can't really do anything unless you are looking at it, and even then, you can miss keys). Looking online and finding this phone and that it had the great camera and full keyboard as a feature phone (no data) at a low cost, i was instantly drawn towards it.
**1. First things first, this is a feature phone, not a smartphone. There are no apps. They call their programs 'apps', but they are really just every phone applications, like phone, calculator, messages, browser, etc. You can imagine why this phone failed its first time through as the kin twom, being a smartphone. It would make just about the worst smartphone out there. I also was not looking for the social networking type phone that this was originally marketed as. This phone is for people who DON'T want data plans, don't want to pay extra. It is currently being sold for $50 with a contract renewal/new contract, and $220 without a contract. The kin onem is a smaller version of the kin twom, if that is the form factor you are looking for, and that is currently listed as $20 w/ a 2 year contract, and $120 contract-free. They are very similar phones, from what i know, they have identical user interfaces and software.
Here are the user manuals for the two phones:
Kin Onem: http://cache.vzw.com/multimedia/mim/kin_two_m/kintwo_m.pdf
Kin Twom: http://cache.vzw.com/multimedia/mim/kin_one_m/kinone_m.pdf
I read this even before i bought the phone, but that could be because i am pretty picky when it comes to buying new products, especially knowing i want it to last at least 2 years. It would be a good idea to read this, although it is understandable if 150 pages isn't your definition of light reading (although this review is pretty long itself..)
Here is also a link to a very helpful review video of the Kin twom (thanks to ertrox342, fantastic job!), you can see many of the features here. *note: for blocking data other than airplane mode, read further down my review*
Response to comments
off the top of my head, i will list pro's and cons of the phone (some of which will be covered in further detail below). Many of the cons have been listed all over these and other forums and are more bugs than just cons of the phone, but i will list them anyways.
*mostly deals with the functionality of the phone. In my opinion, it far exceeds my expectations (being a feature phone, low budget and all)
-full qwerty keyboard: lots of spacing between keys, space on its own line, good for bigger hands, etc. (although i've heard people complaining theres too much room between keys..i don't see how you can have too much room, in my opinion thats probably because they're used to a squished, shrunk keyboard from a previous phone)
-8 MP camera, 720p HD video, with flash, some lighting settings, and auto-focus (well beyond what i expect from a phone). No, the flash does not work with the video, nor can you use it as a flashlight, which is a little bit of a downside, but not unbearable. it does do have a burst setting, where it takes 3 successive pictures, good for motion, or where you need to capture a photo at the right time (think..the classic jump in the air).
-great capacitive touchscreen: very responsive, registers well, very comparable to apple's iPhone, iTouch response. Has pinch to zoom, double tap, 2 finger tap, scroll features.
-Wifi. Yes, internet without a data plan. the browser is based off IE6 (from what i've read), it opens most pages, plays certain videos (youtube is the main one, microsoft must have used a custom plugin to get videos working), really what you expect from a phone.
-Zune player. along with wifi, these are all extra bonuses i really didn't expect on a low-budget feature phone. although i am used to apple's itunes, it is a full player on-board the phone, it just takes getting used to the interface (unless you already own a zune)
-FM radio. again, a bonus. Is within the zune player, and now i can listen to radio, or mainly for me, sports games, etc. One downside though, will be mentioned later (cons, **6)
-3.5 mm headjack: standard size, i don't like it when phones decide to throw on a 2.5 mm headjack, although they both are 'standard', 3.5 is much more common, and saves you a trip down to radioshack and some $$ to buy an adapter, or new headphones.
-good call quality, speakerphone works well, etc
-Great battery life: that could be from what i am used to, my old phone needed daily charging, would often go low-battery in 3/4 a day, and it always had a low-battery beep that could not be silenced without silencing the entire device. It has lasted for 2 days now though, and that has been under pretty heavy use from me testing the new phone.
-threaded messages: again, the main thing i use a phone for is calling and texting. The messages are sorted by contact, you CAN send more than 160 characters per message (it auto-divides them into individual messages), even to non-verizon customers. That was one of hte most annoying things about my old phone, was once you get to 160 characters (to non-verizon customers..but who really keeps track of who is verizon and who isn't), you had to send and start writing a new message. And yes, you CAN send/recieve MMS simultaneously to having a functioning Wifi (the 'right' way to block data, explained later, **3)
-Alarm, calendar, calculator: one more thing i generally use my phone for..alarms and the calendar.the original kin didn't have a calendar/calculator, but microsoft did add these to the kin onem/twom models.
-auto-brightness: brilliant. it works wonders for the battery life, and it adjusts it to a great level when needed. When it is dark..not very bright. when you're outside, brighter screen so you can see it. however, the sensor on the phone can sometimes be covered up by your hand, which makes the screen darker for the setting you are in, which might be what is happening to those who say the auto-bright doesn't work well. I haven't found the exact sensor location yet, but i believe it is the little dot by the earpiece.
This list is much bigger..but that does not mean that the cons exceed the pro's. The pro's are actual functionalities of the phone, the con's are minor quirks here and there, they can be bothersome, but not crippling. For most part, they are listed from most annoying to least. I will list as many con's as i have seen mentioned around the forums, as well as some of my own, so you can judge the phone for yourself. They don't all necessarily bother me.
-volume buttons: they do not lock when you lock the phone. That is a sign of poor software engineering..but its bearable (lock..doesn't that mean lock everything, except unlock?). I ordered a case however, that hopefully will make the volume buttons a lot harder to accidentally push. I think what they had in mind was being able to change the volume while listening to music, but if it is locked, then it should be fully locked..they didn't get this one right. One thing about the phone, however, it seems to have sensors on it, whether infared, light, or just pressure/touch sensors, where the actual buttons don't register unless it senses it is 'being held'. Not quite sure how it works, but will discuss later (**9)
-alarms do not have vibrate only: even if your phone is set on vibrate, there is no vibrate. i do have work-arounds, though, that will be discussed later (cons, **7)
-messaging: only threaded messages. cannot just sort by time, with all contacts integrated. Also, no one has figured out a way to delete individual messages (or access the message info, for that matter), only the entire conversation. After using the phone for a while though, i realized i never would actually want to just sort by time anyways, it does sort by time in between all contacts, just not in between all messages. Also, people have said there is no way to forward messages, which i could not figure out either. However, i can't think of the last time i've forwarded a message anyways, so that doesn't bother me.
-no contact groups. So far, i have not figured out how to make groups. I would love to pin some groups to my favorite contacts, rather than just individual contacts, but the only thing i figured how to do was to 'link' contacts. That groups them together, but then you don't see the names of the contacts, only their numbers (and i don't memorize numbers..not since i didn't have a cell). this is also directly related to mass-texting: you can send mass texts, but have to select the contacts individually, or use these groups where you can't see their individual numbers anyways, and have to select them one at a time.
-Verizon's own backup-assist does not work with this phone. I'm guessing this is because the original kin had the online studio to sync everything, and they didn't bother making it compatible. When they made it a feature phone, they didn't bother making the backup work because it was backed up a separate way. Also, i've read that it does not support bluetooth OBEX profiles, which means you can't transfer contacts via bluetooth. It does have bluetooth in general, though.
-it was said in one of the other posts that verizon has been updating its systems to be able to transfer contacts for the new kin models in its stores. I don't know whether that is fixing the backup assist compatibility issues, or providing a way to direct-connect the 2 devices and sync the contacts, but that is promising news to those who don't want to spend the time entering in all of your contacts.
-slippery backing: the material to make the backing of the phone is very slippery, what i would call poor quality plastic. sounds quite hollow too..like it could break with a drop. However, i'm getting a rubberized case for it that will hopefully fix this and not make it feel like i am going to drop the phone at any time (details later, **8). While the backing does feel cheap, the front half of the phone is very solid. it is a very thick, hard plastic, and doesn't seem like it would break upon impact. I did get a screen cover for it anyways though, because for its cost, i would rather put one on than be bothered by a permanent scratch. They are quite cheap online, although i did buy mine through verizon (they actually gave me a droid incredible cover because they didn't have kin accessories, but the screen sizes are about the same, so i can't complain).
-along the same lines, because it is slippery, it is very hard to press the back button when holding it with 1 hand. i wish it had a back button on the touch screen along with the physical button.
-form factor: the phone is largest along the front of the phone, and slighty chamfers in as you go to the back. when it is in your palm, it feels firm and tight, but when using things like the camera, it really would've been a better design to just not have that chamfer. From feel, i believe it only feels funny because the back cover is so slippery. When the case i ordered comes in, hopefully it will have enough friction to stay put and feel good in the hands.
- a general lack of settings: there aren't many theme settings (only color), and no font sizes (for some reason, you can't zoom in on texts or anything else for that matter, other than the browser and pictures), so be weary if your eyesight isn't the best. Like mentioned with the alarm, there is no vibrate as a sound setting, only a global 'vibrate with sounds' setting. A work-around (that i haven't tested yet, but would most likely work) would be just to create a blank ringtone, and call it vibrate, and keep that global setting on, but you wonder why didn't have a vibrate only setting in the first place. When the phone is put on vibrate, alarms still sound.. but they don't vibrate. but when the global vibrate is on and the phone is on low, medium, or high volume, the vibrate does work for alarms. Kind of backwards. poor software debugging, if you ask me, but its bearable. I wish you could custom move where the 'recent' and time dashboard were on the interface to the top corners, when holding it landscape, it is a lot more natural for me to press the top of hte screen, not the bottom.
-no touchscreen keyboard. it doesn't have a touch qwerty, and it also doesn't really have a keypad touch either. while the keypad does come up with calls, you can't use it for texts, or inputting anything other than just a basic phone call. in other words, you have to open the phone to type. it doesn't have t9/predicative texting, and no quick texts either.
-no back button on the touch screen..only the physical key. I wish microsoft would release an update with an optional setting to make a back and home button appear in one of the corners much like the time dashboard and recent buttons are.
-this isn't a kin specific gripe, but phones with accelerometers/auto-rotate in general. I've never had a device that had auto-rotate, so it will just take some getting used to, to keep the screen from not rotating the other way when i don't want it to (if i want to use the phone lying down, i will have to turn it the other way, etc).
-qwerty keyboard: the enter key is right next to the backspace key (not to mention that return and backspace icons look very similar...). Aftera while, you sort of remember which one is which, but having them further apart could've been a better design (there is about a half inch of free space on each side of the keyboard). Also, the keyboard does not have cursor arrow keys (up, down, left, right), and they don't come up on the touchscreen either. With all that free space, it would've been really nice if they added cursor keys, but the touch screen works well enough to just pick the spot you want to move the cursor to.
-fm radio: have to have headphones plugged into phone to use the radio. the headphones act as an antenna for the radio, which is really weird that they didn't bother putting in an internal antenna, because the phone itself already has an internal antenna..there may be a way to 'fool' the device into thinking that headphones were plugged in, but then you could use the radio with just the speaker (i don't think the quality would be too bad without the headphone antennas because the phone has so many conducting parts already..why didn't they just put in an internal FM reciever?).
-no alarm only setting in with volume
-no microSD slot. although i kind of expected this, much like the iphone or some other smartphones don't have slots, just built-in memory. But i doubt i'll run out of 8 GB, because i don't think i'll be using this as an mp3 player.
-the end call button on the touch screen is pretty small (and there is no physical key to end the call), but nothing i won't get used to.
-ringtones: from what i've read, you can't directly add custom mp3 ringtones to the phone. You have to send them via MMS to the phone. Also, there hasn't been a way to delete ringtones, as far as i know. The default ringtones aren't any good (they also have pretty cheesy names, a carry-over from the social-marketing of the original kin). You can transfer ringtones to the phone, from another phone and MMS, or by emailing your phone at ##firstname.lastname@example.org. You also can't rename ringtones. In other words, though, if you do get ringtones (through MMS or texting it to yourself by email), make sure they are named the way you want them to be, and that you are ok with them being permanent, at least until a solution is found. I did read, that if you save the ringtone through zune, under the music folder, then you can delete it when you want.
-Cannot access kin as a mass storage device. Have to sync through zune. Although Zune isn't that bad (it is windows, and i own a PC running windows 7, making them very compatible and interlinked), i am used iTune's interface, so i just have to learn Zune's UI. You add and remove music, pics, video, etc between the phone and computer through Zune player. It is a free download software. You can also organize photo albums through zune on the computer, it just takes some getting used to if you aren't already a zune player user. I do not know if Zune player works on Mac's, but i read that they are going to be releasing a mac version soon.
download link: http://zune.net/en-us/products/software/download/default.htm
-ugly interface: unlike most touchscreen phones where the icons are small and there is blank space, the kin twom has large 'flooded' icons that cover the entire home screen, and aren't editable. I don't think it is that ugly, but it certainly is a change from 99% of the verizon-default interfaces.
- Background wallpaper: cannot orient the picture direction. I don't care too much which direction the lock screensaver is, but it may be true that you can only have the picture set in 1 direction. It does not change with the accelerometer auto-rotate, but what you can do to change between landscape and vertical is take the picture in the opposite direction and then apply it. I read on one of hte other posts that they can only set it as a landscape background, but i have only been able to set it as a vertical background. That is how i normally hold my phone anyways though, so no problem.
-Some people have said that the camera button is hard to press, and when you do, it often shakes the phone, causing a blurry picture. i haven't really had problems with that. One thing you have to realize, is it is a 2-step push camera button. Hold half-way to focus, then snap the rest to take the picture. If you push it all the way, it will quickly auto-focus and then take a picture. Same goes for the touch-screen camera take button. The phone can try to slide open a little when taking pictures, but i've found a way to hold it so it is firmly in your hands. Just make sure you are holding the back of the phone on the bottom, not just the screen part.
-There are no voice commands (as far as i've noticed, if there are, someone correct me on this). I'm putting this under con's because it is something the phone doesn't have that most phones do, but for me personally, i almost see this as a pro. Now i won't accidentally be pushing buttons and hear 'please say a command'. Now, if you use a headset or something like that, that could be a downside.
**2. Overall physical quality:
While it is not the worst, it could be better. The hinge is slightly loose, but only slightly. When i purchased this, we also purchased the lg cosmos touch on another line, and that phone's physical quality is much better. The spring-action on the kin slider is strong enough to not notice the slight wobble. Like mentioned before, the back casing is a cheap plastic, and doesn't have that rubbery, silicone feel that i would like, but thats nothing that a case can't fix. The front screen plastic is thick, feels very durable. This is not one of those old brick phones that you could throw against the wall and it would look like new; it does feel strong enough to survive accidental drops here and there though, especially with a case.
The keys are pretty 'clicky', which i like. You know when you press a key and when you don't. Like said above, the capacitive touchscreen is very responsive, it is closer to being compared to apple's touch screens than other feature phones. Because it is capacitive, it does not work when contacted by non-electrical materials, like a stylus pen, or through a glove. Being a touchscreen, i don't imagine the old 'stick it in rice' trick will work if it becomes submerged in water, but i will leave that up to someone else to test.
One more thing, not quite the physical quality, but the phone speed itself isn't bad. It is slower than smartphones, but is faster than what i'm used to on my old phone. You can browse through menus fine, but it is when you select 'apps', the phone either takes a second or 2 to load, or it by default pauses on that app's icon for a set amount of time.
If you are like me, most of you are looking into/bought this phone because you were ecstatic about the ability to have wifi without a data plan. (This phone does support data plans like other 3g phones, but in my opinion, for those of you who want/can afford a data plan, do not get this phone. Get a smartphone. compared to android, apple, windows, blackberry, etc smarphones, this is the worst one of them all.) I have seen many people say it doesn't have wifi, or you still have to pay (much of this is from misinformed verizon rep's, unfortunately) for the wifi. Actually, when i first went into the store to ask them about the kin, they asked me why i wanted it and i told them because it had the camera and wifi, then they told me it didn't have wifi. That is not true. It does have wifi, and works just like any other mobile device with wifi. Verizon has no way to charge you for wifi, seeing how it is NOT their network you are connecting to. You do have to remember that the wifi is just like any other wifi out there. Some networks (certain hotels, shops, etc) do charge for their wifi, but that is not an issue with the phone, it is the wifi itself, and you should know which network you are connecting to before you do so.
It does supports secured connections, and can be switched on and off (kinda obvious). when switched on, it will automatically search for and list visible networks. I do know have an answer as to why some people haven't been able to locate/connect to certain newtorks, but that is not a phone issue, it is related to that network and its settings. The only other possible thing i can see being a problem is if the actual device's wifi hardware has malfunctioned, but the phone itself does connect to open networks, wep, wpa, and wpa2 secured networks. there is also an option to connect to hidden networks. If the network is not automatically detected, you can search for others, with the name, security type, and password.
Data blocking/avoiding charges: Without a data plan, I did not want to incur any data charges. At $1.99 a MB, that is near theft right there..so yes, those of you wondering about avoiding that, those are very valid concerns. there are several methods to avoid charges. With this phone (as well as any other phone to my knowledge), if you lose wifi connection, or browse in an area with no wifi, it will fall back onto the 3G network, thus incurring charges.
Method 1: turn on airplane mode. This is simple, you can access the wireless controls through the quick dashboard, and its a single click to turn off all phone network connections. No phone, no messages, no internet connection. But you can connect to Wifi. This is the bulletproof way to surf the net, but like i said, you can't recieve messages or calls while standalone mode is turned on.
Method 2: block data through verizon. This is what i have done. You can do it online, through a phone representative, or directly at a verizon store. Many of the reviews saying they have blocked contacts say you can't use MMS when you block data. That, however, is not true. When talking to a rep on the phone, or in stores, tell them that you want to block all data, but keep multimedia messages unblocked. I did this in stores, and i much prefer talking to someone in person than over the phone (ironic, considering we're talking about phones), and they got it working.
More properly, block all data, but have national remain unblocked. THat is what multimedia messages go through, not through data. I have tested this, and i can send pictures to both verizon customers, and non-verizon customers. i have tested recieving from verizon, but did not bother testing recieving from non-verizon customers because i assumed if you can send them, you can recieve them. If someone else could verify this, that would be great. To make sure data was blocked, i kept wifi off, and tried accessing the browser and some sites, and they did not connect (with the exception of some of the pages that retained their cache, like google). As for billing, i am waiting to verify this. I can check my verizon account online, and where data (@$1.99/MB) used to be, that category is now gone. At the end of hte month, i will be able to verify that on the bill, but until then, i will be cautious about my wifi browsing.
When it comes to blocking data online through My Verizon, i do not quite know where the link is on the page(because i am not the primary line on the account, i don't have access to those controls). I do know you can block data online, but i don't know if you can block data, but keep MMS active, while doing it online. Some posts i read that you can, and others said you can't. If someone could verify and provide detail on this, it would be much appreciated.
**4. Phone (contacts, groups, messaging, mass texts, etc)
The messages are threaded. they are sorted by date, through each contact. You cannot sort by just date, it is threaded only. Also, the call history shows up within the message threads, which i find pretty nice, but not everyone will like this. They are timestamped, and they show up in a very 'instant-messaging' format. You can send texts larger than 160 characters, it will auto-divide them for non-verizon customers. It does not show how many characters each text is, but since there is no hard cap, you don't have to worry about that. You cannot delete individual messages (or select them for that matter), nor view each individual messages' message info. when adding recipients, you can go ahead and type in the contact name, and it will auto-search for them through your contacts. Also, your favorite contacts will show up on the select contact screen to scroll through automatically. You can have roughly 15 favorites. you cannot forward messages, and also can't select emails within contacts to send messages to, but you can type in emails. Because there is no touchscreen keyboard or keypad (other than the basic phonecall screen), you have to open the phone to type anything.
I have not figured out how to create groups on the phone, which is quite annoying because even the oldest of phones has groups. I would like to be able to favorite a group, then have that act as a subfolder for contacts within that, but cannot figure it out. This is also how you would normally send a mass text to certain people, but i cannot get it working. You can link contacts, which puts other contacts' numbers under a single contact link, but the problem with this is they all show up under that link's name, and all you have is the number. unless you memorize everyone's number, you don't know who you are selecting within the link. You also can only select one of the links at a time, it does not stay in the menu and allow you to select all, or pick a certain number of them individually.
You can set custom ringtones per contact. There does seem to be a problem deleting ringtones as well as renaming (as mentioned in cons). You also can't directly add a custom mp3 ringtone to the phone, you have to send it through a MMS/email it to yourself.
A site that i heard is good for downloading free and/or cheap ringtones is:
You don't have to register, and you can change the name, sound/song clip duration, volume, etc from the site before sending it. If you add the ringtone to the music folder through Zune, you can manage and delete them. This seems to be the only way of doing so, at least until a solution is found.
The camera is an 8 MP camera, with 720P HD video. Overall, it is a good quality camera. It is not as clear as say, a regular 8 MP camera, but what do you expect on a phone? It is easily better than any other phone camera i've seen. 90% of the camera quality comes from its focus, and the taker holding the camera still while the picture is taken, not the actual quality of the camera. It has an auto-focus, and the camera button is a 2-step button. push 1/2 way for focus, then all the way for take. you can push it all the way, and it will quickly focus then take the picture, or you can push the icon on the touch screen to take a picture (with that quick auto-focus). You have to hold the camera still just like any other camera (although, most regular cameras have a shake correction) while it focuses, and then while it is actually taking the picture.
It also has flash, night mode, and a 3-picture burst snapshot mode. There are different lighting settings too. The video is very good quality. You cannot use flash with it. Sound is clear. One downside with the camera and the video is that its auto-focus is done with the light sensor on the phone, not from how much light it detects at the areas of the photo (like a normal camera would do). Most (if not all) phone cameras usually can't do that anyways, though. I took my phone to a basketball game and took pictures from the stands, and that is one example where that could be problematic with auto mode (because the stands are dark and recieve little light, while the floor is well lit and the camera over-floods with light after the auto lighting adjustment). THe flash works quite well (remember, we're talking about a phone camera), i took pictures in pitch dark, and they came out to what i would call 2-3MP camera quality. Like any other camera, the flash only works up to a certain distance, it is a quick light that can only travel so far.
Overall, the camera quality far exceeds expectations. After user-error, i would say the pictures come out more 5 MP quality in light, and 2.5 in dark, with flash. THe video is very clear, as is its sound quality.
It is just like a zune player (although i've never owned a zune, so someone correct me on this). Music sorted just like it would be on the Zune (artist, playlists, genres, songs, etc). I haven't tried the video, but i imagine its all the same. There is FM radio, but you need to plug in headphones to use it (it uses them as an antenna). Any headphones will work with the phone. The headphones it comes with has a button/microphone on it, so you can answer calls with it. Same as iPhone headphones. There is Zune pass, but since i don't plan on using it, i don't have any answers to how it works, whether it can be synced via wi-fi, or if podcasts can be auto-updated via wifi. Again, if someone else could provide that answer, it would be appreciated.
**7 Secondary apps: alarm, calculator, calendar, browser, email
Alarm: 10 alarms. Can set to once, every day, workdays, weekends, or certain days of the week. Can set ringtones to alarms, but for some reason, can't set alarms to vibrate only. When set in vibrate mode, the alarm will still sound, but it won't vibrate at all. When global 'vibrate with sounds' is turned on, it will vibrate with the alarm on high, medium, and low, but not on vibrate (kind of backwards..). I will be trying to make a custom vibrate ringtone, because that is how i usually had my alarms on my old phone. I think i can do this by create a ringtone, but making it either with no sound, or just volume that is quiet enough it isn't audible, and then saving it under the name Vibrate Only. Then, it will work with global vibrate on.
Calculator: basic calculator. No exponentials, parenthesis, etc. Has memory (stores last answer), it is nearly identical to those old small basic calculators with +-*/. Good enough for a phone. No unit converter (but being an engineer..i know most of the basics anyways!)
Calendar: by date, and by month view, as well as by occasion. Can set start, end time, as well as can repeat just once, every day, every week, every 2 weeks, every month, or every year. You can add a location and a note along with the event name, and set a reminder time before the event, up to 2 days before. You cannot sync the calendar to outlook, gmail calendar, etc. I am satisfied, but that could be because i came from a phone as old as the razr, where the calendar was even more basic.
No notes, which at first was kind of a bummer, but i just found that texting myself is just as good, especially with threaded texts (i know where to find them all).
No games, does not have the usual Verizon Get it Now stuff, but that is fine for me because without a data plan, i would have to pay for all that anyways, which i never used.
Email: can import email addresses, from hotmail, gmail, Aol, yahoo, or an IMAP/POP account. I have not used the emails app yet, only accessed my email through the browser, but i presume it works well. I'm pretty sure you can use it with just Wifi, if someone can confirm. You can set how often it syncs, from 15 min, 30 in, hourly, or manually. You can add email signatures (but oddly, the kin doesn't have text signatures). Typical mobile email app.
I would highly recommend a case for this phone, the back cover feels very weak, and its texture is very slippery. I like a rubbery feel to it, and have ordered a case for about $4 including shipping ($.99 without). I have read that the cases fit well, without interfering with the slide of the phone, when i recieve the case i will verify this. Also, the case i ordered surrounds the volume keys completely, which i hope helps me in not accidentally pressing them. I don't necessarily have a problem pressing them (my phone hasn't turned its volume up while it was supposed to be silenced in my pocket yet), but it is more of a paranoia knowing that it could be changed by accident. Although i believe this phone has a sensor of some sort anyways to prevent that (discussed later, **9). A grippy case will also hopefully help in holding the phone because of its backwards chamfer to the design (along with firmly pressing the camera button). They range from $4-$25, those prices including shipping. Also, i have a screen cover on mine, i bought it from verizon because i was antsy to get one on my phone, but you are best going through an online vendor for these to save money (verizon sells for $12.. online for $4 including shipping). If you do end up purchasing both case and protector, purchase them together to save on shipping (especially if you get one of the cheaper cases..the shipping is already 2x the price of the case and protectors)
Here are some links to cases and screen covers (I am not marketing anything, these are just a few that i found on Amazon):
AccessoryOne black rubber-feel snap on case ($1 +$2.94 shipping):
Carbon Fiber hard case ($1.46 + $2.98 shipping):
Body Glove hard shell textured case, with clip/stand (removable) ($11.41 +$6.19 shipping):
Clear Screen protector, full screen cover ($1.94 + $2.94 shipping):
Screen protector, 2-pack, display area only ($.96 + $2.98 shipping):
**9. Sensors & extra
The Kin has an phototransistor (light sensor) for the auto-brightness (it can be set manual brightness, but i find the autobrightness works great), as well as the obvious capacitive touch screen. It also uses that transistor (i also think it is an infared sensor..) up by the earpiece for turning off the touch screen while answering calls, which is pretty common in capacative touch phones (so your cheek doesn't do something you don't want it to). I also discovered it does something more than that. Now, i'm not sure if i am the only one who has experienced this, but sometimes when i'm not actually holding the phone (say, it is in my pocket), but i push the unlock, back, or volume buttons, the don't actually register the command. At first, i just thought that was because the buttons could've been loose and i wasn't pushing it to acutally contact the electric signal. However, doing this in the dark and looking at the infared/photo sensor (the dot by the earpiece), you can see the slight reddish infared light actually turn on pretty much every time (even when the unlock button doesn't unlock the phone).
I believe it senses through the phone, with the same sensor that detects if the phone is up to your face, lets say the example of your phone in your pocket, if that sensor has a heat source (and/or no light source) next to it (your hand, face, leg, etc), it will fully lock everything, including the volume, back, and even the lock button. I have played around with this, trying to push the buttons in my pocket, touching the actual phone as little as possible but pushing the buttons in the exact same ways as i do when firmly hold it, and it doesn't actually register the commands when there isn't that change in temperature.
This got me curious, so i connected to a call, and used my hand, as well as non-conducting, non heat-emitting objects (paper, etc) to see when the phone recognized a 'face' next to it. During calls, i believe it uses a light detector to sense when something is next to it. If you cover that sensor, then it will blank/lock the screen, much like it does when you put it up to your face to talk. I also played around with it when it was locked. When i put my finger over the sensor and pushed the unlock button, back button, or volume buttons, they were all completely locked. However, when covering the sensor with that non heat-emitting material, it still would register. THat makes me believe it uses an infared sensor when it is locked. Another test, when i put it in my pocket, and then only lightly touched the keys, avoiding contacting the rest of the phone, it was still locked. Then, when keeping it still next to my leg (through the pocket), but then firmly gripping it by the sides, the buttons did work.
It seems the Kin uses a combo of touch, photo (light), and infared sensing throughout the phone to control when it is partially locked (physical keys still work, including volume) and when it is fully locked (none of hte keys register). However, even when the sensor is covered by my finger, if you hold the lock, it will pop up with the power off menu. That seems to be the one thing that never will lock. I have seen complaints about the phone freezing at times, and this could be part of the reason why, if they were trying to unlock their phone, and were accidentally covering that sensor.
If anyone has any more knowledge about this, whether to confirm or prove that it isn't true, that would be helpful. Again, this is just speculation. I've never seen anything about this anywhere, and i was more just curious as to how the phone worked to keep on testing the sensors. After reading this, yes, it could well have been just a waste of time, but the engineer in me wanted to know how the device actually worked.
This phone does have a phone pin lock, where you have to enter in a pin to unlock it (found on other phones too). However, after 8 tries, the phone prompts a warning that asks for a separate key-in code on top of the pin, and then on the 10th try, it resets/wipes the phone. I see this as being potentially hazardous, if you do use the pin lock and have kids playing with your phone, or if someone has a grudge and wants to erase your phone, they can..but i don't think i would worry too much about it. It was designed as a security check, but i would've thought it would have something like a 10 min cooldown phone lock, to stop someone from hacking in, before it decided to completely wipe the phone memory clean. This is all from the instruction manual, i didn't actually try this, because i don't really want to test-wipe my phone.
Finally, this is just info from some other threads, but there is a hidden menu of the phone (i accessed it, but didn't do anything in there because i don't want to screw anything up). You can access it by dialing ##77647266488 (##programming) from the phone app (you can't access it if you save the number through contacts). It will ask for the service programming code, and by default it is 000000.
I read that you can disable data from this menu (although it will simultaneously disable MMS), as well as make it so a computer can see the phone as a mass storage device (but someone said most of the device is locked, so you can't manually and and remove files..yet), but i have not (and probably won't) explored it any further. I believe this is the same menu that they access at stores and etc to set up the phones (the verizon rep that tried to help transfer my contacts used this menu to try to manually direct-connect the old and new devices).
**But please NOTE, i do not know what any of these actually do, whether they mess anything else up, so access and change settings at your own discretion.**