Reviewed October 18, 2008 by Tong Zhang, Senior Editor
Like the good gents in Monty Python would say “and now for something completely different”. In a year where the touch screen phone craze swept the US market, Verizon Wireless introduced a texting device, the Verizon Blitz, in the size and shape of a woman’s compact, albeit thicker. This square-ish slider phone has a full QWERTY keyboard and aims to attract texting mavens who are not fond of typing with T9. Like many feature phones on Verizon today, the Verizon Blitz has features like built-in GPS with VZ Navigator support, Bluetooth A2DP support, microSD card slot, 1.3 megapixel camera and the Mobile Web 2.0 browser. The Blitz does have a built-in music player but you must side load the music from your PC instead of downloading it over the air since there’s no EV-DO.
The big difference between the Blitz and most other features on Verizon is the omission of EV-DO fast data support. Since the device focuses on texting and not heavy multimedia or a full web surfing experience, the 1X-only support isn’t a big loss for the phone’s intended users. The Verizon Blitz, or the UTStarcom TXT8010VW made by Pantech, is a CDMA dual band phone (800/1900 MHz bands) with 1X for data. It currently comes in blue.
Phone and Texting
As a cell phone the Blitz looks unique: when closed it’s shorter than most phones; but slide open the keyboard and the phone looks like a large BlackBerry. In fact it’s actually just a tad wider than the BlackBerry Curve 8330. You can make and receive phone calls without opening the keyboard, but the device’s shape and width make it uncomfortable to use. It still feels a bit too wide even with the slider open, but the longer body makes it easier to handle. The 2.2-inch display sits in landscape orientation and call controls, menu keys, speakerphone launchers, clear key and the 5-way d-pad live just below the display. For a phone this size, the Blitz packs a good number of ports and buttons. These include a 2.5mm audio jack, volume keys, charging port, microSD card slot, dedicated music key and a dedicated camera key. The camera lives on the back of the Blitz with a self-portrait mirror next to the rear-firing speaker. The battery is under the down-sliding back cover.
The Verizon Blitz doesn’t get a strong signal, but it never dropped a call. Voice through the earpiece has some occasional distortion but the volume is loud. The same can be said about the speakerphone. The Blitz has support for Bluetooth headsets, stereo headsets and car kits. We tested the Jawbone 2 and the Jabra BT530 mono Bluetooth headsets with the phone for making and receiving phone calls. The voice quality wasn’t very clear on either headset, but it was clear enough to have a conversation. The DSP wasn’t very effective on either headset when working with the Blitz; wind noise wasn’t filtered out even with the Jawbone 2 noise assassin feature turned on. The range was average between the phone and the headsets, reaching about 10 feet.
The Blitz supports all the common call management features including call waiting, 3-way calling and caller ID. It comes with a phone book that can store up to 1000 entries and you can assign over 90 speed dials to contacts. The Blitz also comes with voice dialing powered by VoiceSignal. The software is speaker independent, no training needed and it’s very accurate even over Bluetooth headsets.
While the form factor seems a little awkward at times when making phone calls, the Blitz has the perfect set up for texting. The roomy, curved keyboard feels great to type on and it has both clicking sounds and tactile feedback. The landscape display is also great for reading messages and text is large enough to be read by those over 40.
GPS, Music and Camera
The Verizon Blitz has built-in aGPS that works fast and accurately. You can get good position fixes even indoors and the phone works with Verizon’s VZ Navigator 4.1.1 powered by Network in Motion. You can get directions, maps and POIs as well as Live Local search in VZ Navigator. It offers voice guidance which is quite loud through the Blitz’ speakerphone, real time traffic reports and messaging your location to friends. VZ Navigator requires either a monthly fee ($9.99/month) or a daily fee ($2.99/day).
Multimedia isn’t this phone’s focus. The Verizon Blitz offers a basic 1.3 megapixel camera that takes decent photos for that class of camera phones. Still images have good color balance but in some indoor shots or in direct sunlight, light colors will completely white-out. The photos have a reasonable amount of detail but also have noticeable noise. The camera software offers white balance, brightness, color effects setting and 4 different still image resolutions. You can send pictures via messaging but you can’t Bluetooth them as that profile isn’t supported. The camera phone can’t record video.
The Blitz comes with a music player that can play unprotected MP3 and WMA files and it has support for playlists, shuffle and other features. While you can download ringtones, the phone doesn’t support Verizon’s V CAST music store over the air. You can either load your music files to microSD cards or set up an account with V CAST with Rhapsody using a PC and sync the music to the phone via included USB cable. The microSD card slot is easy to access and supports SDHC. We tested a 4 gig card and it worked fine.
It’s always nice to see a phone that doesn’t say “me too” or “iPhone killer” these days. As a mid-level feature phone with a texting focus, the Blitz should appeal to those who aren’t into smartphones but wish to use a full QWERTY keyboard, as long as they find the form factor both attractive and ergonomic. No support for EV-DO might turn off some users but the 1x only support also means better battery life. The full set of PIM applications should take care of light business usage and Verizon’s Chaperone support means parents can track down their kids’ locations. For those who find the LG enV2 too expensive or loaded with features they don’t need, the Blitz is worth a look.
Price: $69.99 with 2-year contract after online discount.
Display: 2.2” landscape display, 262K color TFT screen. Resolution: 220 x 176 pixels.
Battery: Lithium Ion rechargeable battery, 920 mAh, user replaceable. Claimed talk time: up to 4.6 hours. Claimed standby time: up to 11 days.
Performance: 30MB internal memory. Phone book can store 1000 entries.
Size: 3.5 x 2.6 x 0.7 inches. Weight: 5.1 ounces.
Phone: Dual band CDMA, 800/1900 MHz bands. 1X for data. No EV-DO support.
Camera: 1.3 megapixel camera. Can shoot in portrait or landscape mode. Still image resolutions: 1280 x 960, 640 x 480 and 320 x 240 pixels. Can’t record video.
Audio: Built-in earpiece, mic and 2.5mm headset jack. Music player onboard for MP3 and WMA music playback. Supports vibration alert.
Networking: Bluetooth v2.0. Support profiles: Hands-free, headset, A2PD and AVRCP. USB 2.0.
Software: Verizon Tab UI. Music Player included. Openwave WAP browser, web based IM and web based email (Hotmail, AOL and Yahoo!). Phone book included. PIM tools include Calculator, Calendar, Alarm Clock, World Clock, Notepad and Stop Watch. VZ Navigator, Chaperone, games and applications available for purchase.