Kin One
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Own a piece of tech history: Microsoft Kin One for just $25 (US Only, Verizon)

If you’re on Verizon or just want an interesting Microsoft off-shoot of their Windows Phone series, then the Kin One (a partnership with Sharp) may be for you. Plus you can have it for the low-low price of $25 (free shipping).

The Kin One, was a device released in April 2010 and can be considered part of the Microsoft-in-transition-what-the-hell-are-we-doing phase of the company. Seriously, Windows Phone 7 was just announced and prepping for release that fall when the Kin One (and Two) came along and confused everyone. What does it run? How is it related to Windows Phone? And most importantly, Why?

Fun fact: the Kin One and Two grew out of the secretive 'Project Pink' at Microsoft...

Kin One

The Kin One and Two eventually flopped badly on Verizon and rumors have it that Big Red didn’t forgive the quickly cancelled fiasco with Microsoft. It’s often cited as one of the reasons why Windows Phone took time to creep onto the carrier and let’s face it, it wasn’t until the Lumia 822/HTC 8X/Samsung Odyssey and the recent Lumia 928 did Verizon take Windows Phone seriously.

What is interesting about the One (and Two) is you see a lot of precursors to the Windows Phone design, aesthetics, focus on social and perhaps a peek into Microsoft’s future. The Kin Studio was in many ways ahead of its time and while the device was a bomb, it has interesting aspects to it. Speaking of Kin Studio, it was killed off, meaning this phone and some of its cloud-based services have been knee-capped just a tad.

Specifications

  • CDMA 800/1900
  • 600MHz ARM 11 Nvidia Tegra processor
  • 2.6-Inch TFT capacitive touchscreen, 16M colors
  • Internal 4 GB storage, 256MB RAM
  • 5 MP, 2592 x 1944 pixels, autofocus, dual-LED flash
  • Built-in Zune player
  • Geo-tagging, face and smile detection
  • Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g
  • Bluetooth v2.1 with A2DP
  • Up to 200 hours of standby time
  • 82.6 x 63.5 x 19.1 mm (3.25 x 2.5 x 0.75 in)
  • 110.6 (3.88 oz)

So what do you get for your $25? A 2010 era feature phone that focuses heavily on Twitter, Facebook, MySpace (LOL), web and music services. Plus you get a mini-chicklet keyboard.

And yes, we bought one to throw into our pile of reference devices, thank you.

Anyway, pick it up on Daily Steels (link below). Read our three-part review here: one, two and three.

Source: Daily Steals; Thanks, Owen S., for the tip!

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Reader comments

Own a piece of tech history: Microsoft Kin One for just $25 (US Only, Verizon)

104 Comments

Seriously, this would be perfect. The world needs more tiny smartphones to drop in a SIM when travelling, or if you just want something that fits better in your pocket for a night out.  That's where GSM can be really versatile.

I agree, it would be interesting to own even just as a novelty. It would also be good for sports, work, or anywhere that one wouldn't want to damage an expensive smartphone.

Me too. If Verizon had just been a little flexible and offered a discount instead of their full data plan rate, there could've been a market for the Kin Two.

I agree. The data plan should have been like ten dollars. I honestly think the data plan was the biggest reason that the phone did so poorly. Why on earth would anyone get a feature phone with some smartphone capabilities when they could have gotten one of the current droids of the time...its almost like Verizon wanted the phone to fail.

I don't know if it's just be but that looks like an awesome, nifty little device. Can't imagine it being too practical as a phone though. Shame it's US only otherwise I would possibly pick one up.

Wow, I just looked back at those old reviews. George Ponder has been using those garden gnomes since 2010 lol.
Daniel for some reason I thought you didn't have kids, maybe cause of that time you told everyone not to have kids on the podcast. It is entertaining to look back at the old style reviews on what was wmexperts.

SIM and GSM I'd buy just like that.

But my question for VZM is this pre-government taps? POW! ZING!

I impulsively just bought this... My HTC Trophy just drained it's battery life in 3 hours for the first time ever. And I wasn't even using it, it was just on idle.
I bought this and I'm not even sure if i can use it. Will Verizon transfer the # and contacts over?

does anyone know if this can be activated without data on verizon? I would get it for my daughter if no data is required.

It shouldn't require a data plan. Verizon later brought them back as the kin onem and kin twom and made them into feature phones. It lost most of its data capabilities anyway such as the Kin studio so she should be able to use it without a data plan. .

Just got off the phone with Verizon and they are telling me that a $30 data package IS required for this phone.

<p>HI dbaldali</p>

<p>&nbsp;I used to own the Kin one and NO you do not have to purchase a data plan on the verizon network that is WHY I</p>

<p>actually bougt it well got it free from them but any how it is THE ONLY SMARTPHONE the DOES NOT REQUIRE a data plan YOU Pay a you go.. that is if you use it on a data network.....</p>

<p>Diane</p>

I'm going to buy a dozen of these, put an apple sticker on them and sell them for $500 a piece on ebay

Yes!  i used to carry a KIN2 as a media player only in addition to WM6 phone.  i used it wirelessly with a bluetooth headphone to stream the audio (for both music and video).  it has been retired since moving to WP8.

It's all good, because when Microsoft sacrificed the Kin, they made sure they incorporated the name their next product in memory of it. The KINect. Lol.

How does the kin one compare to the kin two? I've always wanted a kin two but I'll pick up the kin one if its the same...

And this is unlocked, right?

Pretty sure that if this is actually a Kin ONE (With social stuff built in), it won't activate/let you get further than setup, since the servers for it are gone. Tried reseting my TWOm to the old OS, and it wouldn't let me actually activate it. Sadly, that one's screen broke  (something wrong with the connection), and the new one I got after that ($50 on amazon at the time) didn't even allow downgrading the OS

I think I got to the homescreen, but just about everything I did prompted me to login to microsoft's servers, which I couldn't do (it just gave me an error everytime, since Kin Studio was gone)

if you want to bypass the inital phone setup, press FNC-Shift-L.  i bought the original KIN TWO used as a media player and never had phone service on it, never used Kin Studio either.  used it until 6 months ago when i got my WP8 which handles my media duties now.

i believe space + L bypasses setup. and the browser, email (exchange being an exception), phone, music, video, camera/imaging, and messaging features are all usable. only help, social networks, and other studio based features are unavailable.
 
and only certain rebranded M models were downgradable (as in, some Kin OneM's and TwoM's were actually the original phone with a software upgrade).

Both MS and Verizon were both holding the murder weapon here. MS going CDMA only with no GSM version cut out a large portion of the world and Verizon charging full data plan prices killed both Kins before they had a chance. Didn't help that people thought the performance was awful.
 
With that said, if they had a GSM Kin Two, I'd actually think about getting it as a novelty.

Damn.?! Why did it flop.? If somebody would sell it online in PHL and can be unlocked and be used here as sms/call device, I'm gonna get/purchase 2 of those.!

I think a variety of things killed the KIN but performance of the phones themselves and VZW charging full price for their data plans were probably the biggest two.

That's just sad. They wasted a great concept of a device. Oh, except the UI.. Make it more METRO. :)

Just wondering if this phone could be activated during a US vacation on Verizon by this foreign tourist. Does anybody know? Then I'd know if it's worth the effort to try importing one.
 
On the other hand it might be a good candidate to fit in my mobile phone collection. OK I bite. How do I order this from Europe?

Wait, Verizon only, but doesn't Sprint use the same frequencies on their CDMA? If I could activate on my Sprint SERO account that would be awesome. Never upgraded. On Sprint since I have my work lumia on ATT

Sharp absolutely should not be able to call that device a Windows Phone. Talk about diluting the brand... sheesh!

I bought one of the original TWO's off ebay last year. It beats almost any feature phone in existance to date (With exception to anything Nokia in that department).
 
This phone had quite the missfortune. a year or two late being released, with no dedicated team building it (the "PMX" team consisted of multiple Microsoft teams, including hardware, zune, and Windows Phone, all poorly collaberating on the project, from what ive read), a poor team leader who ignored the cries from members of the teams included within the PMX "team" (some stories on the phone say developers working on it mentioned that it lacked an app system and number of things to be marketed as a "snartphone" and that it needed more work.), the Windows Phone team being isolated from PMX (explaining the buggy OS), and verizon changing data rates, all lead up to its fateful demise. Sad thing too. 8MP camera, awesome music player, and os features that to this day WP fails to use as intuitively, or even at all.
 
Kin studio would be awesome to make a comeback. Skydrive Sync is a fragmented version of that at best and the website looked cool from images and commercials ive seen. Its more fragmented on WP, having everything seperated online between mail (to which message sync is a pain to view), People (for contacts), and skydrive (for recorded video and pictures). Having one central way to manage the content on ones Windows Phone online would be cool.
 
Also, i like some things about "Windows Phone" KIN OS that i wish Windows Phone Propper OS had, such as the same style favorites screen for favorite contacts, and the chat bubble notifications for text/mms messages recieved on the lock screen. Also, the way one could access their photos hub from the camera (since camera was the same app as photos) was awesome.
 
But most of all, i want to see the comeback of spot and the "dashboard". The dashboard allowed easy access to settings such as wirelss and audio, and the spot allowed a cool, intuitive way to easily send video/images through messages and post updates (think of the spot as a cross app, os wide, mesaging/social networking helper).
 
Also, i think microsoft could revamp the KIN's os to make some kind of Windows Feature Phone for developing markets.
 
anyways, this is a neat little phone, and great, if one considers it a feature phone, seeing as its on Verizon. most other feature phones on verizon suck.
 
Fun Facts: This was supposedly going to be a sucsessor to the sidekick (Microsoft bought Danger, who made the Sidekick OS), explaining its cloud and social features (& its design). Also, This is one of the most locked down phones out there. The xda forums have practically given up on it, and no ones ever fully jailbroken/rooted/gained admin access to this phone. closest they have come is accessing the seperate user memory and contacts export.

I've got a Kin Two in its original package. I used it briefly, I didn't hate it but it was just too awkwardly shaped for easy use. I loved Kin Studio and the Spot.
I've always believed that Microsoft never seriously thought this product was very good, but that they were contractually obligated to release something as a result of their purchase of the company that developed the software.

I had one for my daughter (well, she had 5 of them since 4 were returned for various issues...you might just get one of her devices sent back with this refurb deal).  She loved it, though. 
No data plan required.  Has wi-fi (which no other feature phone did/does), 4gb for music.  No apps.  Pretty decent for her as a then 11 year-old.  She loves her VZW 8X now, though.  :)  I don't love the montly data charge.  ;-)
I think she still pulls it out for music every once in a while.  And unless I'm mistaken it has FM radio, which I didn't see anyone else mention. 
Maybe people would buy one for FM + Zune for a tiny device in the gym?

You forgot the awesome camera, butyou have to send the pic's individualy from your email, and cant send vidios. Otherwise, I love Mine.
 

I haven't splurged on anything in quite a while, so I went ahead and got it, it's $25. Something to be excited about, lol.

I have this phone. well the Kin Onem. it was nice because it could connect to wifi. but is missing features like text forwarding. imagine that, a windows phone missing basic features? lol

I went back to read the part one review: Daniel, did you write the review, because in it 'you' say you have a 14 year old kid. Judging by your looks, you have aged very well. What's your secret?

I loved my Kin TWOm. I retired it for my Lumia 928 & there are a lot of design similarities. Microsoft al the way!

I just ordered two. I figure as basic cameras and media players they will work just fine for my eight year olds. Especially for only $25.

That device shows how far MSFT is ahead of evryone else. This isn't the first time MSFT has failed for being "too innovative". I remember seeing Windows XP tablets that were wonderful. That was at least 10 years ago.
Given this device is still the butt of many a joke, how many people here will honestly say this is the first time you have ever seen a MSFT Kin?

So a device (and business unit) that was practically canceled on its way to the store shelves is some sort of collectors item. It was and always will be a working prototype of MS taking a shot at doing things the Palm way then realizing they wanted to do something different. This is not an Apple I, it's a conversation piece and a bit of a joke. Say Kin to a MS employee and see what happens.

MAybe I'm being dense, but tell me this: Is it a phone for making phone calls?  Or sending texts?  What do those features cost from Verizon?

I've owned my KIN ONE for 3 years now and i can tell you that i really like this phone whether or not it flopped in the grand scheme of things. Plus, everyone is fascinated that my phone is sort of square-ish. And when i tell people that it was Window's sort of first attempt at a smart phone, they usually think that its pretty cool.