It seems more teens and tweens are carrying phones these days, and not just your run-of-the-mill phones. They have texting phones, Smartphones and phones that carry all of their music. Those phones might have more memory than your first computer, but they are far more powerful. Now, with mobile Internet and social media application on the handheld devices, parents are looking for a way to maintain control and check in on what their children are doing. If that’s what you are looking for Verizon Wireless and Sharp have the phone for you.
Introducing the Kin.
I was giving one to review and let’s just say, if my little ones were old enough for cell phones this is the one I would buy. With the Studio, an online application that allows phone users or parents to login and view phone activity, parents can see everything from all of the text messages sent to the social media message the phone users leaves and receives. The phone keeps the user connected to their social media circle and parents the peace of mind to let their child use a phone with such features.
Let’s get physical
When I say this phone can fit into the palm of your hand, I’m not kidding. When closed up, the Kin One (the phone I reviewed) is tiny. The keyboard slides back up behind it, but the touch screen front is still accessible for quickly browsing your social media circle, updates from your favorites and reading e-mail or RSS feeds. The touch screen is easy to use and not overly sensitive. There is also a back button that helps with navigation of the phone.
The screen is small, but it works for this phone. It gives you enough real estate to view your feeds and e-mail. It comfortable for making calls and the key pad is a good size for texting and e-mailing. The phone is mostly black and qhite with green accents that give it a very modern look.
Now, I have the purse test: how well does it stand up to life in my purse. This one faired perfectly, which is probably good since it’s geared toward a generation on the go. It is small though and in the depths of my purse, sometimes I had to do a little hunting.
Unlike most phones I use, I didn’t notice this one getting overly warm with use. This could be because the screen is smaller and not generating a ton of heat. I didn’t carry on a long conversation to see how it felt on my face, but using it to browse my social media contacts didn’t make it feel hot to the touch.
This is a Windows-based phone that offers the ability to monitor social media sites like Facebook, MySpace and Twitter, as well as RSS feeds and e-mail, but it isn’t overly app heavy. There isn’t a marketplace of apps like there is with an Android phone or an iPhone. You get what it comes with. But for someone looking for something in between a texting phone and an Android phone, this is the phone for you.
Once you sign in for the first time, the phone automatically pulls Facebook and Twitter feeds to the phone. Users can mark favorites and check in on their status updates and easily share information. Using the Spot, users can drag updates and easily share them via message, e-mail, Facebook or Twitter.
For heavy Twitter users, this phone does lack the ability to reply to tweets and retweet. This was a little annoying to me as I default to Twitter and let it update my Facebook status. However, after following @Kin on Twitter, I have a feeling the ability could be coming in the near future.
Also, you are able to use Zune Music to download songs to the phone. There is a two-week free trial when you sign up for Zune. The phone also features a radio tuner, which I actually used more than I thought I would.
As I mentioned above, the one thing the Kin has that I could not get over was the Studio. Using a Windows Live ID (which took mere minutes to set up), I could log into a website and see every message I sent, every reply I received, the photos I took and share and even my feeds. While this made it convenient to review my phone activity, I could also see how this would be useful to a parent with a younger kid just branching out into a social media-enabled cell phone. By having the Windows Live ID, parents can login and check at any time and know they were seeing what their children are doing.
There seemed to be about a 15 minute refresh rate from the time I performed an activity until it posted online.
It was safe, secure and would really provide me with a sense of security as a parent.
The web is not exactly the web
While there is a mobile web function on this phone, it’s not exactly what you would see if you had a Droid or iPhone that has intensive web browsing. The screen is smaller so web pages are smaller and the zoom feature made it difficult to navigate the web pages I did pull up. However, using RSS feeds, I was able to plug in my favorite blogs and get updates that way.
For those who like the techy specs, here is what this tiny phone has to offer:
- Windows Phone OS for Kin
- Support for Exchange Mail and POP3/IMAP
- 4 GB storage (although it does not have an expandable memory option)
- 40 Rintones
- Wi-fi Capable
- Dual Band
- 340 minutes of talk time or 240 hours of standby time on the battery
- Over-the-air updates
The Kin is priced at $129 with a two-year contract through Verizon Wireless. Right now there is a $100 online discount making the phone $29.99 and they are also currently by one, get one free.
I was provided a Kin for review by Verizon Wireless but the views written here are my own.