The Samsung Brightside is probably at its best making traditional voice calls. Call volume was loud and clear using both earpiece and speaker, so we have no complaints about this core functionality.
The dialer takes up the majority of the small screen when making calls, with convenient quick access to recent calls, separated by All, Missed, Received and Dialed tabs at the top of the screen. Call history can be sorted by Date & Time or Name.
The Brightside is a bit of a mixed bag when it comes to on-screen keyboard. Using the built-in web browser, the keyboard does its best imitation of Android, with black keys that are a little too small for most fingers. Try to knock out a text message instead, and the ghost of a silver T9 soft keyboard inexplicably haunts you. (This is where you'll be happy to have that QWERTY slider.)
On a more promising note, the Brightside is ready for your social life. Pressing the space bar on the slider keyboard calls up the ability to post status updates to Facebook or Twitter (also available from the Social Networks button on the home screen).
A Verizon-branded version of the Opera Mini web browser comes standard, complete with shortcuts for the carrier's My Web and My Verizon pages as well as mobile versions of ESPN, Facebook, MySpace (?!), YouTube and WeatherBug.