OK, so, it's a hell of a week for Sprint to launch a music phone but ta-daa, meet Muziq. Though it's certainly not billed as an iPhone Killer—Sprint says the timing was a coincidence. We introduced you to Muziq earlier as Fusic II, an underwhelming replacement to the original Fusic. We were wrong about the name, but we were right that the specs haven't changed a whole lot. The phone will cost $100 (with 2-year contract) when it starts selling in mid July. Until then, here are the details.
There's still a 1.3 megapixel camera, battery life of 4 hours for talk time and around 10 for music-only playback. There is also an FM transmitter, like the original Fusic, but now it can be used with downloaded tracks as well as MP3s you may have loaded up.
Speaking of loading up MP3s, you can do it pretty easily using the old drag-and-drop method; I decided not to bother with Sprint's music manager software, but you probably guessed, the phone does have an EVDO connection to Sprint's Music Store. (That's 99-cents per song if you have the $15-per-month Power Vision data plan.)
What's new is that it's the first Sprint phone that accepts the larger 4GB MicroSD cards—this is helpful as there is no internal memory you can allocate for music.
The Muziq is also a lot more grown up, having ditched the assortment of colored plates in favor of the black and red scheme that proved to be the key to the LG Chocolate's runaway success (uh, kidding there, though I do prefer the new color scheme).
A sweet effect is that the touch panel on the face that controls music has vibration force feedback: when you tap it, the vibe hits for a split second, giving you the sense that you pushed a button. The CDMA version of LG's Prada has this feature on its touchscreen—in fact I think this type of force-feedback will appear in more and more handsets.
The Muziq has lost the Fusic's baby fat: it's a good bit slimmer and it doesn't have a visible antenna either.
Though there are some style improvements, the Muziq has lost much of the individuality of the Fusic; besides external design changes, its user interface is shared with other Sprint music phones, and the Fusic's cool LG-designed comic-book menu is nowhere to be seen. I may be the only one who misses it, and there are other interface options, but I do get a little bit sad when I see handset makers' little design touches get steamrolled by carrier standardization.
Carrier standardization wouldn't be as big a deal if I thought customers were getting something useful out of it. My biggest beef with the phone is that, even though it's supposed to be for people who pay $15 per month extra for music services, it's really hard to find any streaming radio. The "Music" button takes you to the player and to the store, but Sprint's new Pandora service isn't yet preloaded (though it's supposedly coming) and other radio options are buried under the Sprint TV heading. Why do they even exist? It's not like you can use them with the FM transmitter, or navigate them when the phone is closed. If the network is the thing, then networked music, in all forms, should be the key to Sprint's music strategy. Let's see it!
In the meantime, it's not a half bad phone—you know, for making calls, receiving calls, sending text messages and such—for anyone who isn't standing in line at an Apple Store right now.
GO TANGLE-FREE WITH MUZIQ BY LG, EXCLUSIVELY FROM SPRINT, OFFERING A TRULY WIRELESS MOBILE MUSIC EXPERIENCE
Attractive device gives customers the freedom to easily receive and listen to music without cables or wires through over-the-air song downloads, FM transmitter and advanced stereo Bluetooth
First Sprint device that allows use of a 4GB microSD memory card - holds up to 4,000 songs
Available July 15; Sign up for availability notification at www.sprint.com/music
OVERLAND PARK, Kan. and SAN DIEGO, Calif. - June 26, 2007 - Sprint (NYSE: S) and LG Electronics MobileComm U.S.A., Inc. (LG Mobile Phones) today announced the upcoming availability of a new music phone that provides customers with the ability to quickly and easily experience music on the go - MUZIQ by LG. This innovative device comes packed with industry-leading features, including over-the-air song downloads, a 4GB microSD memory card slot and a built-in FM transmitter allowing customers to listen to their tunes wirelessly through any FM radio within 10 feet.
Operating on the Sprint Mobile Broadband network, MUZIQ by LG provides easy access to Sprint's exclusive multimedia content. A successor to last year's FUSIC by LG, MUZIQ by LG provides quick and easy access to Sprint-exclusive content, including:
• Sprint Music StoreSM, powered by Groove Mobile, which allows users to browse and wirelessly download full-length songs directly to their phone from a selection of more than 1.6 million songs.
• Pandora Mobile, a downloadable application that provides personalized streaming radio by allowing customers to enter a favorite musical artist or song and automatically receive a radio station with songs that have similar qualities.
• Sprint TVSM with more than 50 channels of live television and on-demand video and audio.
• Sprint Navigation, powered by TeleNav, providing full-feature GPS navigation including voice and on screen turn-by-turn driving directions and more than 10 million business listings.
(Standard data charges apply to all downloads from Sprint.)
MUZIQ by LG offers multitasking capability that allows users to play music in background mode while also using the phone for text messaging or playing games. It also features advanced stereo Bluetooth® and a dedicated music button and camera button for quick operation.
"We are very excited to add MUZIQ to our portfolio of industry-leading music phones," said Oliver Valente, Sprint's senior vice president of product development. "This device reaffirms Sprint's commitment to offer innovative music devices that enable customers to get music wherever they are and listen to music however they desire, whether that is through Bluetooth headphones, their car stereo or the device itself."
MUZIQ by LG comes packaged with Sprint Music Manager, powered by Smith Micro, giving users the power to quickly and simply transfer, or "sideload," unprotected songs from a PC to the handset via a USB cable. Provided on CD-ROM, Sprint Music Manager allows songs to be managed on a PC through an intuitive interface. The box also contains a 64MB MicroSD memory card and a USB cable.
"LG Mobile Phones is thrilled to introduce Muziq," said Jon Maron, senior director of marketing, LG Electronics MobileComm, U.S.A., Inc. "Muziq is the latest innovation in mobile music technology and allows consumers to merge their love for music with a high functioning mobile handset."
MUZIQ by LG is the first Sprint device to offer a microSD card slot capable of managing 4GB of memory - or up to 4,000 songs from Sprint Music Store. Additional features include a 1.3MP camera/camcorder with flash, PictBridge support for printing pictures directly to supported printers and Wireless Backup to quickly restore contact information if your phone is lost or stolen.
MUZIQ by LG measures 3.80" x 1.94" x 0.61" and weighs just 3.14 ounces. MUZIQ by LG will be priced at $99 with a two-year service agreement. It will be available at Sprint retail stores, www.sprint.com and 1-800-SPRINT1 on July 15. Customers can already register to be among the first to purchase MUZIQ by LG at www.sprint.com/music.
Customers purchasing MUZIQ by LG as a replacement for an existing mobile phone are encouraged to donate their current phone, battery and accessories to Sprint Project Connect. Donated equipment, regardless of make, model or service provider, will be recycled in an environmentally friendly manner or refurbished and resold with proceeds benefiting K-12 education. More information, including a prepaid mailing label, can be found at www.sprint.com/projectconnect.