- Small and lightweight
- Large touchscreen
- Excellent virtual keyboard
- Easy to use
- External speaker could be better
- Proprietary charging port
- No standard headphone jack
The Samsung Solstice is one of the newest feature phones offered by AT&T Wireless. In essence it’s an updated Samsung Impression, sleeker than its ancestor due to the removal of the physical QWERTY keyboard.
It has all the basics such as 3G, Bluetooth, and a microSD slot, with the bonus of a large touchscreen display that is highly responsive.
You can get it for $300 without a contract, or at the much more attractive price of $100 (after a $50 rebate) with a two-year commitment.
DESIGN & BUILD
The Solstice is a great size that feels good in the hand. It’s just half an inch thick and very light, weighing in at just over three ounces. It’s easy to forget it’s in your pocket, which is nice — some devices these days are so heavy they seem dedicated to weighing you down instead of making you more mobile.
The overall design is quite minimal, with only three buttons underneath the screen (call, disconnect, and back) and volume controls on the upper left side. The button on the right side brings up a quick menu that allows you to jump to the call and messaging menus, Mobile Web, music player, or games. The camera button is on the bottom right side of the phone.
The Lock button is on the top edge of the phone, and that’s the perfect place for it — the Impression’s lock button was on the side of the phone, and it was almost impossible to engage without sliding out the physical keyboard or nearly dropping the phone.
The back of the device is made of a slightly textured material that feels a bit like leather, even though it’s plastic. It gives a nice grip and also solves the fingerprint problem quite nicely.
The Solstice supports microSD cards up to 16 GB in size, but alas, the memory card slot is located underneath the battery. It’s bad enough that many devices put the slot in the battery compartment, under the back cover, but this is even worse. My advice — get the biggest card you can afford, install it, and then forget about it — you won’t be changing it out every day, or even every week.
The 3-inch display runs at a resolution of 240 x 400, and it’s very bright and crisp. Images look really good, with no jagginess — there’s certainly nothing to complain about here. Whether you’re browsing the web or looking at photos, you’ll like what you see.
Some folks may miss the physical keyboard, but I think the full screen virtual keyboard on the Solstice is simply fantastic. It’s responsive, and you get vibrating feedback as you hit the “keys” so it’s possible to go very fast indeed without having to constantly check the text you’ve entered.
If you want to go “old school” you can use the device in portrait mode and work with a more traditional T9 keyboard that works quite well.