A worthy competitor to the Pantech duo, the SMT5800 is a side-sliding Windows Mobile 6 device that sports a compact candy bar design that hides a slide-out QWERTY keyboard for e-mailing on the go. It lacks some amenities, such as instant-messaging apps and streaming video, but this device is worth considering for those who would rather not carry a wide slab of a smart phone.
At first glance the SMT5800 looks quite attractive, and reminds us a lot of the Pantech duo. The handset is small and easily fits into your palm. Its size also makes it perfect for pockets, but the SMT5800 feels more like a round stone than a flat wallet, measuring 0.7 inches thick, which some might find too bulky.
The shiny brushed-aluminum-looking facade is attractive, and its 2.4-inch screen is relatively large compared to the 2.2-inch display on the duo. On the left side of the phone is a power button and a volume-adjusting slider key. On the right is a camera launch button; although you'll need to hold it down, it doesn't launch with a quick tap. On the bottom of the unit is a mini-USB port, along with a battery cover removal latch.
Keypad and Keyboard
The front keys are too small: Texting and dialing numbers was more uncomfortable than on the dual-sliding duo, and the Send and End buttons are tiny. A wide but vertically narrow navigation key sits just below the screen and above the number pad, which was efficient for selecting menu options in portrait mode, but a tad awkward when using the SMT5800 in landscape mode.
The keys on the QWERTY layout are a bit too small for rapid typing but offered better tactile feedback than the flat keys on the Pantech duo. And unlike the duo, the soft menu keys in landscape mode actually line up underneath the corresponding onscreen options.
Features (or Lack Thereof)
As far as Windows Mobile handsets go, the SMT5800 is pretty bare bones. Other than the operating system and VZEmail Wireless Sync e-mail software, not many programs are preloaded on the device. Like most WM6 devices, you can view and edit but not create Office attachments; we would have appreciated at least a note-taking application. And you don't get an instant-messaging app either; we recommend picking up IM+ ($29.95). Alas, the SMT5800 doesn't work with V CAST Music or Video, so you'll have to bring your own media to the party.
Solid Performance and Speedy Surfing
Programs opened quickly on the SMT5800 and we didn't encounter much lag, which is a rare feat for a Windows Mobile device. Switching between horizontal and vertical mode was pretty quick, and the screen usually adjusted itself before we were ready to interact with it, which we appreciated.
The SMT5800 loaded Web pages using its EV-DO connection at a good clip. We had CNN.com with pictures up on our screen in 10 seconds. Larger sites not designed for mobile use (like Verizon Wireless' own Web site) took about 20 seconds with pictures, which isn't too shabby either.
Multimedia Features of the SMT5800
We like that the SMT5800 offers a microSD slot that can hold an 8GB card. It doesn't come with headphones, though, so you'll need to listen to music and videos with your own stereo Bluetooth headset, or through your own 2.5mm headphones when used with the included mini-USB adapter. Why not offer a 3.5mm jack if you're going to require an adapter?
Our own music sounded crisp and clean over our headset, and you can leave the music playing in Windows Media Player 10 as you work in other applications. It will pause music if you make a call, and resume it afterward. We preferred listening with a high-quality stereo Bluetooth headset, and we didn't have any issues regarding clipping or disconnects.
Photos taken with the SMT5800's 2-megapixel camera look great on the phone's display, but once we loaded the 1200 x 600 pixel images onto a computer, quality suffered. Our daytime picture of Times Square had lots of pixelation, and reading the text on signs just a few feet away was nearly impossible. These shots are for phone-to-phone sharing only.
Call Quality and Battery Life
Calls made outdoors in NYC were clear, for the most part, but we did hear a light static noise in the background while we were on the phone with another Verizon Wireless customer (who didn't hear any noise). Indoors, calls were generally good, although there was a moment when the other party couldn't hear us--and at the time, we had a full signal. Our stereo Bluetooth headset paired easily for phone calls, and we didn't encounter any static or dropped signals.
With casual calling, music listening, and brief Web surfing, the battery dropped only two bars over two days, which is quite impressive for any smart phone. It's rated for 3.5 hours of continuous talk time and 6.8 days on standby.
If you're looking for a smart phone that will take up very little space in your pocket, we recommend Verizon Wireless' BlackBerry Pearl 8130, which offers GPS support and a more impressive 2-MP camera for $50 less. For those who want to go the Windows Mobile route, the SMT5800 will do the trick, even if it's a little too light on features. The Pantech duo taps into AT&T's music and video services, offers an instant-messaging application, and costs the same amount, but its QWERTY keyboard and voice quality aren't as good as the SMT5800.Choosing between them istough, but we givethe SMT5800a slight edge over the Pantech duo.
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