Story 2016-10-08 1XDTQ First US Android flip phone launched

First US Android flip phone launched

in mobile on (#1XDTQ)
story imageThe first Android flip phone to be sold in the US is here. TracFone's ZTE Cymbal T is now available to order, today, from Best Buy at the early adopter price of $100. Other than having a flip phone form factor, the Cymbal is a typical entry-level Android phone with a nameless quad-core processor, 3.5 inch 320×480px screen, 8GB (3GB usable) of internal memory, 1GB of RAM and Android 5.1.1 Lollipop. There's a memory card slot, a 5MP camera and a removable battery. The Cymbal runs on the Verizon network and includes 4G LTE support.

The ZTE Cymbal is quite large for a flip phone at 4.72×2.40×0.72 inches. Compared with the Classic Motorola RAZR V3, the Cymbal is almost an inch taller, and obviously wider and thicker. On the other hand, at 3.5 inches, the screen is small when compared with most current phones. While there is a roomy physical keyboard, it's only used for dialing phone numbers, the smallish on screen QWERTY keyboard is used for texting and other text entry.
Reply 6 comments

No numberpad for text? (Score: 1)

by on 2016-10-09 17:39 (#1XGZT)

I remember the days when the texting first hit the teenage audience in a widespread manner, and damn did they learn to type fast using just the number pad, which was their only input method. I can't fathom how impossible it will be to use the itty-bitty touchscreen anywhere close to as quick. I'm still convinced the physical keyboard will always be the quickest input method, regardless of how large or how smart the touchscreen is.

Now get off my lawn.

Re: No numberpad for text? (Score: 1)

by on 2016-10-09 21:01 (#1XH7Q)

It's hardly "itty-bitty". The touch-screen alone is 3.5", which was considered BIG just a few years ago. The iPhone 4S had the same 3.5" screen size (circa 2012).

There's no bigger fan of (full QWERTY) hardware keyboards than yours truly (see: #3NZG), but I absolutely HATE T9 (text on 9 keys) input. Back when I had a phone with T9 as the only option, I simply didn't send texts to anybody, nearly ever. T9 has given us all manner of ugly, unwieldy "txtslang" terms we're only slowly getting away from (like "smthg"), as input was so cumbersome that learning a new shorthand language was quicker than both parties writing messages in full and proper English. The most primitive on-screen keyboards are superior to that nightmare.

The physical keypad could still be quite useful. Android has lots of games, and mechanical buttons with tactile feedback would be far superior to control by touching nondescript regions on a smooth screen. Perhaps also for controlling apps such as music players.

Re: No numberpad for text? (Score: 0)

by Anonymous Coward on 2016-10-14 22:36 (#1Y4G2)

Fully agreed on hardware keyboards. I'm using a Blackberry Priv. It's a bit large - I'd prefer a smaller phone, really - but it works well and balances okay in my hand with the keyboard slid out.

I do like the idea of this flip phone, though. Especially for my parents. Dad has a tendency to wreck the screens on smartphones and a flip would fix a lot of that.

Re: No numberpad for text? (Score: 1)

by on 2016-10-16 00:01 (#1Y7JN)

Very interesting to me as I need the flipphone's solid protection of the main screen (otherwise it won't be long before it gets broken in the barn), prefer the form factor in my hand and by my ear, and vastly prefer having physical phone controls rather than on-screen.

Right now I use a $12 retard phone because it has the really necessary stuff (protected screen, physical controls) and I can live without the Android features and I don't text. But this looks like a good hybrid best-of-both -- if I can't have a full physical keyboard, this is the next best thing. It's the same size as my retired smartphone (also a ZTE; nothing wrong with the hardware, the problem is Virgin Mobile -- you've been warned) which is plenty big for my uses.

Next question, which I didn't see answered in TFA -- is it going to be available not locked to Tracfone? Verizon is good here but my Verizon account is a lot cheaper than Tracfone.

Re: No numberpad for text? (Score: 2, Informative)

by on 2016-10-16 04:20 (#1Y7ZZ)

Next question, which I didn't see answered in TFA -- is it going to be available not locked to Tracfone? Verizon is good here but my Verizon account is a lot cheaper than Tracfone.
Yes, probably locked for 1yr. HOWEVER, Tracfone has several services you can choose from. PagePlus is a VERY popular option right now, even among people not locked to Tracfone's network. Their $27/mo plan w/1GB looks pretty good, and you can go as low as $30/yr paygo plan for minimal usage, though $80/yr is a more practical minimum.

If your Verizon service is cheaper than that, they will probably NOT let you activate a smartphone on it.

Re: No numberpad for text? (Score: 1)

by on 2016-10-20 06:52 (#1YPKT)

Current plan is $2 per day used, unlimited minutes. Since I don't use the phone much I seldom go above the $15/mo. minimum. Not worth over $30/mo. to me no matter what they offer. (Only Verizon and AT&T have real coverage here; the ZTE only sees Sprint and it can't pull up one bar, so the plethora of cheap Sprint resellers aren't useful. T-Mobile uses AT&T but roaming voicemail doesn't work.)

Anyway I'm in no rush; by the time it hits Walmart the price will come down and other options may appear, and might be worth a try on swapping out the SIM card.