Hands on: Microsoft Kin Two review

Extra power in a more traditional design

Beyond The Loop, there's the apps section - but this is not the same applications you're used to from Apple or Google.

Kin two

No, Microsoft has decided that there's no need for an application portal on the Kin phones, despite having the Apps Marketplace already up and running for Windows Mobile.

This means there are only a few other basic functions on the phone, such as the internet browser.

To be fair, this isn't the worst browser we've seen on a mobile phone by quite some way - it works well at rendering full HTML, although the loading times are a little slow and the images grainy.

Kin two

We do like the thumbnail bookmarks offered though, which are accessed by swiping down from the top of the screen.

It's also multi-touch enabled as well thanks to the capacitive screen, which makes it easy to pinch and zoom for a closer look at the words.

Kin two

The other high point from the 'apps' screen is the media player, which uses the Zune interface to offer up all your music and videos.

It works really well, responding nicely to the touch and organising your music in a simple view, building on the popular Zune interface.

One element we don't think we'll be seeing is the Zune Pass application, a Spotify-style streaming service that you pay $15 a month for in the US.

Kin two

That's a shame, as along with the social media element of the Kin phones we could see that the two options together would make the handsets really desirable for the teen and early twenty-something market.

The other part of the Kin Two we were impressed with was the camera. Although we didn't get to play with it too much, the early pictures looked impressive from the 8MP sensor.

Kin two

Microsoft has decided against putting a microSD card slot on these phones, instead preferring to siphon all the content off to the cloud. All your pictures and video are automatically uploaded to the Kin Studio, which presents itself as a timeline of all the media you've captured (apart from HD videos, which have to be sideloaded up the net to preserve quality.

There's also an option to geo-tag your photos and see them presented through the Bing Maps application - making it much easier to work out where your night out went if you can't remember where a snap was taken.

Kin two

The high end features on the Kin Two could be both a blessing and a curse for those interested in picking up this phone.

On the one hand, having all this cool stuff, like multi-touch and HD video recording, will make it a really desirable phone.

But on the other hand, it's pretty light in some areas (like lacking an app store) and the focus on social networking sounds like it's aimed at teenagers and students. This demographic can't afford to spend a lot on a phone, and if the Kin Two costs more than £200 (which you'd have to think it would given the high end hardware) we can't see it flying off the shelves.