While Nokia has not had a lot of success with many of its higher-end models in the U.S., the E71x showed that the world's largest mobile device maker can meet this market with a capable handset.
The Nokia Surge, available now on AT&T's GSM network, aims to push this company ahead in becoming a relevant and versatile offering in this marketplace. This messaging-oriented slider has 3G, a QWERTY keyboard, and social networking software.
It sells for just $30 with a two-year contract and mail-in rebate.
DESIGN & BUILD:
The Nokia Surge -- sold overseas as the 6790 -- has a slider QWERTY design. However, unlike many other smartphones with this price point or design, the Surge's doesn't offer any other means of inputing content other than its QWERTY.
Over my extended time with the Surge, I've found that it is not only extremely pocket friendly, but also that the 2.2-inch screen (320 x 240 pixel resolution) is very clear and usable in all conditions.
Below the screen (or to the right of it depending on your orientation) are three function buttons, and then another set of buttons for the soft keys, call, end/power buttons and 5-way directional pad.
My major gripes with the design of the Surge comes in its attraction to fingerprints, and the function buttons being too small.
Being an entry-level device, the plastic body fits in well, though doesn't feel cheaply put together.
The QWERTY keyboard was a mixed bag -- for me, anyway. My daily device has been the Nokia N97. Having both devices for nearly the same amount of time, I've grown to like the keyboard of the Surge, but wished that it followed the ergonomics of the N97 more.
The Surge's keyboard is not too wide. Each button has excellent travel, and aside from a weird placement of the backspace key (under the "P"), it feels great. For the targeted audience, it felt "OK" to quote a teen I asked about it. While wide enough, it was described as similar to LG and Samsung models common to that target group.
Beyond the screen and keyboard area, the rest of the design is fairly minimalistic, with a single speaker, 2.5 mm headphone jack, 2 mm Nokia power port, and a single removable battery cover.
Overall, the build and design works very well. The QWERTY keyboard fits the mood of the Surge as a communication-centric device.
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