Friday, September 20, 2019

The Windows Mobile ‘save yo soul from the iPhone’ Phone – HTC 6800

June 27, 2007 by · 71 Comments 

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Overview

How do I count the way in which I love thee? That’s how I feel about the PPC-6800 so far. Having lived with the PPC-6700 (the Sprint version of the previous model) for a year and a half, this feels like heaven. The phone is about 33% smaller than its predecessor, and it light years faster in terms of processing anything your little heart desires. Then there is the on board storage space that just begs for you to install every application you could ever need; no more budgeting or removing other less favorite applications to try a new program. Keep reading to get the whole scoop.

 

Physical Review

The PPC-6800 looks like any other smartphone on the market. The standard 2.8-inch touch screen, the navigation buttons at the bottom of the screen, and the camera lens on the back. But once you start manipulating the phone, you feel the distinctions that make this phone different than its predecessors.

First, the thickness of the phone is something to behold. The phone, as mentioned above, is about 33% thinner than its predecessor. It is also smaller than most of the Treo models out there. Another advantage it has is that there is no longer the protruding antenna that doubles as a stylus holder (which also did wonders for ripping holes in my pockets).

The front of the device feels a little crowded with the button placement on the bottom of the device. Having come from the 6700 where there are only 4 buttons on the bottom of the phone, there are now 6 buttons. The answer and hang-up buttons are elevated and in between the other keys, but make for difficult navigating when you try to answer a phone in a rush. Once I got used to it though, I started to use the buttons with ease. The call and end buttons are metal whereas the buttons around it are plastic, and this makes for easier tactile differentiation.

A new button location for this phone, when compared to its predecessor, is the placement of the mail and internet explorer buttons at the top of the face around the speaker. At first I had trouble locating these keys automatically, but in the end I am finding that it is a nice use of an often-wasted space on the phone. Good work, HTC.

The sides of the phone contain your standard power, camera, and voice-dial buttons. But there are some other surprises amongst the buttons. First, there is the addition of the connection manager button to ease the enabling and disabling of the phone’s antennas and services. Next up on the list of surprises is a hardware switch for enabling and disabling the 802.11 functionality. I am not sure how much I will use this since it’s not something I use with the phone, but I found the addition of the button to be interesting. Finally, there is the brand new clickable scroll wheel of blackberry fame! This is a very welcome change even though the phone is still armed with the standard front panel joystick as well. My only complaint about the scroll wheel is that you need to push it rather deep in order engage the click.

The bottom of the phone has the infrared port, the memory slot, the reset button, and the mini-USB connector. Obviously, the mini-USB connector is available for charging and for syncing, but it also has another unexpected use. You’ll notice I didn’t mention a headphone port, and that’s because the headphones that come with the phone plug into the mini-USB port. I somewhat object to this because you are forced to either use the manufacturer’s headphones or a Bluetooth headset. The only other thing you will find on the bottom is the stylus which fits snuggly in its compartment. The stylus also compresses to take up less space within the phone.

Finally, we have the keyboard. Since the phone is thinner than the 6700, the keyboard is also thinner. At first I wasn’t a big fan because I didn’t feel like I was getting enough of a grip. But after some use, I found that they keyboard actually had a very enjoyable feel to it. The keys are much easier to press and the keys aren’t quite as tall off the keyboard. Typing is quick and enjoyable on the keyboard. The backlight is also very good when it is activated. My only complaint is that they have moved all of the function keys around when compared to the 6700 so there is a whole new set of keys to learn.

I don’t think I can say enough about how much I enjoy carrying and using the phone from a physical perspective. It takes all of the problems with the 6700 and throws them out the window. One of my only concerns about the physical device is going to be its battery expandability. The battery cover on the back of the device is the whole length of the phone. This makes me wonder how higher capacity batteries will fit into the phone. Only time will tell.

Performance

Let the love fest continue. The upgraded 400Mhz processor in this phone makes it possible for the phone to do all the things that the 6700 could not handle. Applications load quickly, installs are snappy, and you don’t have to wait for the phone to render each line of the today screen when you turn on the screen. The phone also boots up faster as a result of this faster processor, which always helps when you have to reboot in an emergency (please, no windows jokes here!). The processor also has the side benefit of improving the download speeds drastically. The phone will be receiving an upgrade at the end of Q3/2007 to enable EV-DO rev. A, but it is already blazing with rev. 0.

The phone also packs a wallop when it comes to the storage on the phone. I really enjoy the fact that I no longer need to budget my memory usage. I can install whatever I want without risking having to uninstall other applications in the process. The phone also comes with a 512MB microSD card from Sprint. A very welcome addition since it doesn’t fit my 512MB miniSD that I had for my 6700 (another memory card out the window – will it ever end?!).

Now to the perennial negative of these smart phones – battery life! The phone lasts about 14-16 hours on a single charge with moderate use. This usage includes web browsing, pulling up my slingbox, and using push mail through my active sync. I hope this batter life continues once I have Goodlink running on the phone (more on that later).

Using The Phone

Wow, all that text and I haven’t even mentioned using the phone! So here we go – brace yourself! The phone runs Windows Mobile 6 Professional. All in all, there is not too much to report on the whole WM6, but I do see a lot more stability than what I experienced under WM5. While I have not had the phone for a long time, I have yet to need to reboot due to an application failure.

One of the huge new additions to this phone is the Java environment. This means you can run the fun java applications being developed for mobile devices. Sprint users beware however – the gmail java app does not seem to work because of a certificate problem. Let’s hope Sprint fixes that by putting out an update with the additional root certificate. It is not as simple as adding the certificate on the user side since the certificates within the java mobile environment are pre-installed by the vendor and there is no way to add new certificates. I find this particularly frustrating. But on the other hand, I am thrilled to be able to use other applications that I was not able to have with the 6700.

The faster processor does wonders for having applications come up quickly. The phone buttons actually respond when they’re touched on the screen! This is a HUGE improvement! Application load quickly, respond promptly, and don’t seem to crash. All big pluses. We’ll see how the phone holds up to more usage.

Now to the most important thing since, in the end, this is a phone – call quality. The audio quality is on par or better than the 6700. I have yet to notice any deficiencies with the phone performance as compared to the 6700.

Drawbacks

Now for the section you never thought would come in this love-fest – the negatives. As you might guess, there aren’t many. I would consider the battery door to be a downside since it could limit battery expansion.

A major negative for corporate users is the lack of a Goodlink client for WM6. This means no corporate push e-mail for you unless if your company does Microsoft’s push active sync. As a workaround I am forced to use my company’s webmail to check e-mail, which is pretty annoying and definitely not push. Good has stated that they will have Goodlink Mobile 5 out towards the end of Q3/2007, so I’ll just keep my fingers crossed (and so will my boss).

A little disappointing was the lack of user accessible GPS to use with mapping applications. There is GPS for E911, but that’s about it. I would like to see a hack that allows people to use the E911 GPS functionality instead of needing an external GPS device.

The final drawback for me is the headset connectivity. I really think they could have found a way to put a mini audio jack on the body so I could use a standard headset. Oh well, not a tough negative to live with.

On the whole, I am looking forward to enjoying this phone and making all of the 6700 users around me very jealous. Look for this phone on Sprint and it should be coming to Verizon since they have designated the XV-6800 nomenclature.

Stats:

Screen: 65K color transflective TFT color LCD. Screen size diagonally: 2.8″. Resolution: 240 x 320
Battery:
1500mAh, and let’s hope there’s an extended battery.
Processor:
Qualcomm 400MHz processor
Storage:
256 MB Flash ROM with 155 megs available, Micro-SD expansion slot
Cell Network:
CDMA dual band digital 800/1900MHz. Data: EVDO rev 0, software upgrade to rev A.
Networking:
802.11b/g and Bluetooth 2.0
Operating System:
Windows Mobile 6
Dimensions:
4.33” x 2.32” x 0.73”
Weight: 5.8 ounces

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Open 6800

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