I think they must have addressed a lot of the complaints I'm hearing. I got the phone anyway and am pleased with it.
Battery life: No problems. The phone actually have with 2 batteries. One is small and sits flush against the back of the phone, the other is twice as big and juts out from the back of the phone. There was no explanation of why I got two batteries, but I'm guessing the bigger one is new and addressed short battery life complaints. That's the one I've been using.
Sound quality: No problems. Sounds like my previous phone. The external speaker for hands free is mediocre but the one for your ear is fine.
The compass and the flashlight are cool, too. Flashlight also doubles as a "flash" for the camera. It's not great but it's better than nothing, which is what most phones have.
My only real feature complaint (and I suspect this should also be attributed to Verizon, not the phone) is that the software doesn't seem to support MP3 ringtones or alarms. But this brings me to my next point:
I am dumping this phone and Verizon when my contract is up if they don't change by then. This phone has a lot of good features but it's a ridiculous $80/month if you want to use them all! (As of May 15, 09 -- that's the "Premium" package.)
* Built in GPS navigation? Great! Costs extra.
* Download MP3 music? Great! $2 per song or $15/month.
* Want to transfer stuff from your computer to your phone? Proprietary USB cable sold separately, and way overpriced.
* Want to download a ringtone? Sure! There's a charge per ringtone and an additional bandwidth fee, unless you buy the monthly flat rate package.
The hardware of this phone is something I have no complaints about. But the features I'm ever going to use are limited because I simply can't justify $80/month for the Verizon plan that actually lets me use it all. I don't even care about the VCast because I buy all my music through Amazon but it wouldn't kill them to include a cable that lets me get my music from my computer to the phone. That cable somehow manages to cost 10x more than a regular USB cable. I assume they make it out of solid gold.