HTC SMT5800 (Verizon Wireless) review:
We’ve been waiting for this petite but powerful smartphone to land at a U.S. carrier for a while, and the time is finally here. The Verizon Wireless SMT5800 is a CDMA variant of the GSM HTC Vox. On the inside, it’s your standard Windows Mobile 6 smartphone but its true appeal lies in the design. The SMT5800 sports a compact chassis of a cell phone while packing in a full QWERTY keyboard. It’s a nice alternative to the bulkier Verizon Wireless XV6800 and even the Motorola Q9m. We will say that the smaller size makes the navigation controls a bit cramped. However, for the mobile professional looking for a smartphone to handle e-mail and some light editing, the SMT5800 is a good fit. Plus, it also offers EV-DO capabilities and good call quality. The Verizon Wireless SMT5800 is available now for $249.99 with a two-year contract and after discounts.
The main attraction of the Verizon Wireless SMT5800 is its design. The smartphone sports a compact design, like a regular cell phone, but manages to pack in a full QWERTY keyboard, thanks to a slider design. The SMT5800 measures 4.1 inches high by 2 inches wide by 0.7 inch deep and weighs 4.2 ounces, sharing a similar footprint to the HTC Vox and LG Rumor and will easily fit into a pants pocket.
The Verizon Wireless SMT5800 is compact enough that it’ll easily fit in your pocket.
The exterior of the SMT5800 features a 2.4-inch screen with a standard 65,536-color output and 320×240 pixel resolution. Text and images looked sharp and brilliant, and the display was readable in many lighting conditions, however, it can wash out in under bright sunlight. As with all Windows Mobile devices, you can customize the home screen with background images, themes, and layouts.
Unfortunately, the smaller size makes the SMT5800’s navigation controls and keypad a bit cramped.
Now, given the mobile’s compact size, we’re not surprised that the alphanumeric dialpad and phone controls below the display are a bit cramped, but we didn’t expect the keys to be so crowded and small. You get the standard Talk and End buttons, two soft keys, a home page shortcut, a back button, and a four-way toggle with a central select key, all of which surround the numeric keypad. There’s minimal spacing between the little buttons, so users with bigger thumbs may experience some misdials.
By sliding the screen to the left, you get access to the smartphone’s full QWERTY keyboard.
To expose the QWERTY keyboard, just push the front cover to the left. It locks into place with a nice click, and the screen orientation automatically switches from portrait to landscape mode. Fortunately, the keyboard is more spacious and easier to use than the exterior controls. There’s more spacing between the individual keys, but they are on the smaller side, so once again, anyone with large thumbs may have some problems.
On the left spine, there’s a Power button, a volume rocker, and a microSD expansion slot, and the right side has a lone camera activation key. The camera along with a self-portrait mirror and speaker are located on the back. Finally, the bottom of the unit has a mini USB port and a battery cover release switch.
The Verizon Wireless SMT5800 comes packaged with an AC adapter, a USB cable, an audio adapter, a soft carrying case, and reference material. For add-ons, please visit our cell phone accessories, ringtones, and help page.
The Verizon Wireless SMT5800 is very much like the other Windows Mobile smartphones on the market today and will best suit those looking to manage their e-mails and do some light work while on the road. The SMT5800 runs Windows Mobile 6 Standard Edition so you get the full Microsoft Office Mobile Suite, instead of third-party software for viewing and editing Word, Excel, and PowerPoint (view only) documents in native format. You get the enhanced Calendar functions and new task shortcuts. However, as Verizon has done with its other Windows smartphones, the carrier stripped out the Windows Live integration, which is unfortunate. Other PIM tools and utilities include Adobe Reader, a task manager, a voice recorder, a calculator, and a notepad.
The SMT5800 ships with Microsoft’s Direct Push Technology out of the box for real-time e-mail delivery and automatic synchronization with your Outlook calendar, tasks, and contacts via Exchange Server. You can also sign up for Verizon Wireless Sync e-mail solution. For personal e-mail, the smartphone also supports POP3 and IMAP accounts, but now you can also view e-mails in their original HTML format, regardless of account type. There’s a wizard to help you configure your device to retrieve messages. We used it to access our Gmail account and had no problems. The device does text and multimedia messaging, but doesn’t come preloaded with an instant messaging client.
For voice communication, the Verizon Wireless SMT5800 offers a speakerphone, smart dialing, and voice commands. The address book is only limited by the available memory. Each address book entry can store multiple numbers, home and work addresses, e-mail, IM screen name, birthday, spouse’s name, and more. For caller ID purposes, you can pair a contact with a photo, a caller group, or one of 23 polyphonic ringtones.
The smartphone has integrated Bluetooth 2.0 with support for mono and stereo Bluetooth headsets, a hands-free kits, serial port, and dial-up networking. It does not, however, support object transfer. Also, the DUN capabilities will require a subscription to one of Verizon’s BroadbandAccess plans, which start at $15 per month.
Now, although the HTC Vox included Wi-Fi, the SMT5800 does not. But don’t worry: It is EV-DO capable. This will bring you data speeds of around 300Kbps to 600Kbps with the potential to hit 2.4Mbps for faster Web browsing, downloads, and smooth media streams. Sadly, Verizon Wireless chose not to include support for its V Cast music and video services.
For entertainment, you get Windows Media Player 10 Mobile, which supports AAC, MP3, WAV, WMA, MPEG-4, WMV, and other music and video files. If you have TV shows recorded on your Windows Media Center PC, you can transfer them to your device for on-the-go viewing. The SMT5800 also comes with two preloaded games: Bubblebreaker and Solitaire.
The Verizon Wireless SMT5800 is equipped with a 2-megapixel camera on the back.
Finally, the smartphone is equipped with a 2-megapixel camera with a zoom, auto-focus, and video-recording capabilities. The options are pretty standard for a camera phone. You have your choice of five resolutions and four quality settings. There’s no flash, but you do get white balance settings, including one for night shots, and various effects you can add the picture. There’s also a self timer, time stamp option, picture counter, and flicker adjustment, among other things. For video, the SMT5800 can capture clips with or without sound in MPEG4, Motion JPEG, or H.263 format. There are only two resolution choices, but you get the same white balance and color effect settings.
Sadly, picture quality was somewhat disappointing because of the orangeish hue.
Picture quality wasn’t the greatest. Objects were clearly defined, but often came out with an orangeish hue. We tried various white balance settings, but it didn’t improve the situation greatly. Video quality was also pretty poor. Our recorded clips turned out dark to be dark and grainy.
We tested the Verizon Wireless SMT5800 in San Francisco using Verizon Wireless service, and call quality was good. We could hear our callers loud and clear and interact with our bank’s automated voice response system with no problem. Conversely, our friends had no major complaints about sound on their end. Audio deteriorated slightly when we activated the speakerphone. There was plenty of volume but there was a bit of hollowness to the sound. We had no problems connecting the SMT5800 to the Logitech Mobile Traveller Bluetooth headset or the Motorola S9 Bluetooth Active Headphones.
General performance was satisfactory. As with a number of Windows Mobile smartphones, we experienced some delays as we used more applications. Overall, however, we didn’t experience any significant problems or system crashes. Multimedia performance was a mixed bag. Music playback was a bit hollow through the phone’s speakers and lacked bass, and increasing the volume only blew out the sound. Watching videos, on the other hand, was much more pleasant, with smooth playback and picture, and images and audio were always synchronized.
The Verizon Wireless SMT5800 is rated for 3.5 hours of talk time and up to six days of standby time. In our battery drain tests , we were able to get 4 hours of continuous talk time on a single charge. According to FCC radiation tests, the SMT5800 has a digital SAR rating of 1.49 watts per kilogram.