What's hot: Brilliant screen. Good music and V CAST video experience.
What's not: EV-DO reception isn’t very strong.
Reviewed October 16, 2009 by Tong Zhang, Senior Editor
For a feature phone, the Samsung Rogue has a lot to offer: a 3.1-inch AMOLED display, a roomy full QWERTY keyboard, a very capable full HTML browser, a 3-megapixel camera with video capture capability and Samsung’s TouchWiz UI. The phone has plenty of space too with 768MB of Flash ROM. The Samsung Rogue works with most Verizon services including V CAST music with Rhapsody, V CAST Video, VZ Navigator and Verizon’s Visual Voice Mail. What makes this phone interesting for Verizon customers is that Verizon has selected the Samsung Rogue as its flagship phone for the new data pricing option which allows customers to select either a 25MB $9.99 per month plan or a 75MB $19.99 per month plan along with their Nationwide plan. The Samsung Rogue (u960) is a digital dual band CDMA phone with EV-DO Rev. A for fast data. The phone is exclusively available from Verizon and comes in black and bronze colors.
The Samsung Rogue is an attractive phone though it’s not slim since it has to accommodate the full QWERTY keyboard. Measuring 4.29 x 2.17 x 0.65 inches, the Rogue has a gorgeous resistive 3.1-inch AMOLED display that’s 480 x 800 pixels in resolution. Think of it as the cousin to the Samsung Impression on AT&T in terms of size, physical design and screen technology. The phone feels hefty as well weighing 4.94 ounces with the standard battery. The slide out keyboard has good sized keys and bright backlighting. Keys have good tactile feedback and you can turn on audio feedback for key presses. The 4-row keyboard includes a number row on top and 4-way directional keys on the right along with an OK key in the right bottom corner. While we appreciate the space bar being in the center, we find that it takes some getting use to with the “B” key sitting on the right side of the space bar.
The back of the Samsung Rogue has an attractive texture that prevents showing fingerprints like the rest of the phone. The mono speaker and the camera along with self-portrait mirror and flash live on the back. The Samsung Rogue isn’t shy about giving you lots of side buttons and ports which include screen lock, voice command launcher, speakerphone button, camera/camcorder launcher, 3mm stereo headset jack, microSD card slot, charging port, volume rocker and a phone charm holder.
Phone, Messaging and the Web
The Samsung Rogue has decent reception, getting full bars on 1X and 3 out of 4 bars on EV-DO when in very strong coverage areas, and 2 bars of 1X and EV-DO in most areas with good coverage. Bad weather and spotty coverage prove challenging for the phone and we noted it dropping the EV-DO connection under those circumstances. The Samsung did fine holding onto 1X and did not drop a call. The Rogue has very good voice quality via both the earpiece and the built-in speakerphone. The Samsung has a phone book that can store up to 1000 contact entries, and has the excellent Nuance voice command and voice dialing software.
The Samsung Rogue is a good messaging phone thanks to the full QWERTY keyboard and support for POP email, corporate email via Verizon’s services and mobile IM. The Rogue runs Samsung’s TouchWiz UI with widget bar on the side (or the bottom when the phone is in landscape mode). The widget bar is heavily populated with social networking widgets including Facebook, MySpace, YouTube, Twitter and Photobucket. The Rogue also has widgets for most commonly used applications like calendar, favorite contacts and tools such as Bluetooth and settings. Like other TouchWiz phones, you can drag a widget to the phone’s today screen and you can choose which widgets populate the widget bar. This isn’t however TouchWiz 2.0 which means you can’t download additional widgets.
The Samsung Rogue has a full HTML browser (Polaris v6.1) that can display full HTML pages in desktop style. Full HTML pages don’t load very fast if you don’t have a strong EV-DO signal, but page rendering is very good. You can use fingers to drag the page and move around; page scrolling is very smooth and responsive via finger touch. There is a zoom tool that allows you to zoom in and out of a page, and the web browser offers most common settings for history, cache, cookies and other security settings.
Music and Video
The Samsung Rogue is a very capable music player thanks to the high quality built-in speakerphone, a 3.5mm stereo audio jack, Bluetooth A2DP and V CAST Music services. The phone also has plenty of space internally to store music and its microSD card slot supports high capacity storage cards. The built-in media player can play music in MP3, AAC, AAC+, eAAC+ as well as WMA formats. If you have tunes ripped in iTunes or Windows Media Player, you can play them on the Samsung Rogue. The loudspeaker, though mono, is loud and sounds very good. Audio via wired headset and Bluetooth stereo headset sounds even better. You can also buy tunes from V CAST music over the air or via PC if you have a subscription to Rhapsody.
The Samsung Rogue’s video playback experience varies depending on the service you are using. V CAST Video playback is very smooth even in full screen mode, and audio is mostly in sync with video. If you have good EV-DO coverage (2 bars or higher), V CAST video has good buffering speed and rarely has any noticeable slowdowns or interruptions. V Cast Video is included with the data plan and it offers the usual news, sports, entertainment news clips, and full-length TV episodes from major US networks. Compared to the V CAST video playback, YouTube videos look choppy with lesser quality in both video and audio, and some HD videos have skewed aspect ratios. The phone plays mobile YouTube videos via the web browser.
GPS and VZ Navigator
The Samsung Rogue has a built-in GPS and works with Verizon’s VZ Navigator very well for real time navigation, directions and POI searches. The phone gets GPS fixes fast and maps load with a good speed. Real time routing and re-routing are speedy and turn-by-turn directions are mostly accurate. 3D maps look good on the AMOLED display and the phone’s speaker is loud and clear, and can overcome highway noise when giving voice guidance. Like most Verizon services, VZ Navigator isn’t free. It offers real time traffic check, a large POI database and sharing locations with friends and family. The Samsung Rogue also supports Verizon’s Family Locator service.
The Samsung Rogue has a 3 megapixel camera with self-portrait mirror and an LED flash. The camera can also record video with audio. Still pictures taken with the Rogue look good by 3 megapixel camera phone standards: they're reasonably sharp with mostly balanced colors. There is noticeable oversharpening but that makes photos look pleasing. The camera phone can take photos in 8 resolutions and supports multi-shot, panorama, mosaic and frame shot shooting modes. Videos taken with the phone look sharp enough, and audio is mostly in sync with video.
The Samsung Rogue has average battery life compared to 3” and above Verizon touch screen phones. The rechargeable 960 mAh battery has a claimed usage time of 4.7 hours and claimed standby of 12.5 days. In our tests, the phone lasted for about 4 hours in a mix of talking, accessing V CAST Music and V CAST Video, sending messages and surfing the web. The standby in our tests was about 9-10 days. If you use the phone as a GPS navigation device, watch on-demand videos on V CAST Video and check your email constantly, expect to charge the phone every other day or every 1.5 days.
Some folks consider the Samsung Rogue as the replacement for the poorly received Samsung Glyde, and Verizon has found a winner in the Samsung Rogue. The Rogue is a solid feature phone that includes some attractive treats such as the AMOLED touch screen, TouchWiz UI, good audio quality as well as plenty of internal memory. The QWERTY keyboard is good for texters and social networking-centric web surfers, and the phone looks attractive. The signal strength could be stronger especially for EV-DO.
Pro: Good music and V CAST video experience. Brilliant display.
Con: Signal strength on EV-DO isn’t strong.
Price: $99.99 with 2-year contract after discount.
Battery: Lithium Ion rechargeable battery, 960 mAh, user replaceable. Claimed talk time: up to 4.5 hours. Claimed standby time: up to 12.5 days.
Performance: 256MB RAM and 768MB Flash. Phone book can store 1000 entries.
Size: 4.29 x 2.17 x 0.65 inches. Weight: 4.94 oz.
Phone: CDMA 1X, EV-DO Rev. A.
Camera: 3.0 Megapixel Camera with flash and self-portrait mirror. Image resolutions: 2048 x 1536, 1920 x 1080, 1600 x 1200, 1280 x 720, 1024 x 768, 640 x 480, 800 x 480, 320 x 240 pixels. Supports Multi–shot, Panorama shot, Mosaic shot and Frame shot modes. Self Timer, Color Effects and digital zoom.
Audio: 96-chord Polyphonic ringtone support. 3.5mm headset jack. Music player onboard to play MP3, AAC, AAC+, eAAC+ and WMA files.
Networking: Bluetooth v2.0. Bluetooth Profiles Supported: Headset, Hands–free, Stereo, Phonebook Access, Basic Printing, Basic Imaging, Object Push for vCard and vCal, File Transfer & Serial Port Profiles
Software: TouchWiz UI. Polaris web browser, Web-based email and IM on board. PIM tools include Contacts, Calculator, Tip Calculator, Calendar, Alarm Clock, World Clock, Calculator with Converter, Stop Watch, Notepad, Sketch Pad and Timer.
Expansion: 1 microSD card slot. Supports up to 16GB cards.
In the Box: The Samsung Rogue phone with standard battery, AC charger and printed guides.