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PREVIEW: Playing with the Microsoft Smartphone 2002
Posted by Arne Hess - on Sunday, 12.01.03 - 20:01:00 CET under 08 - Reviews - Viewed 9719x
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Thanks
to an "anonymous" network operator, I got a Microsoft Smartphone for testing during the past days and I just
wanted to share my first impressions with you here, before I wrote the complete review. Since I have to send
it back tomorrow - I will take the next few hours to play with it as much as I can. ;-) So far it's the
longest time I had a Smartphone 2002 in my hands for testing and thanks a lot to that operator who couldn't
believe that I doesn't own a Smartphone here (can not believe it too but unfortunately the Smartphone 2002
isn't available right now here in Germany anyhow but maybe someone from Microsoft, Orange or T-Mobile read
this lines and want to support me with a test device!?).


Hardware


The
handset I'm testing right now is the HTC Orange SPV which works pretty good so far. Even if it is an
evaluation sample only (the famous Canary) it's working more or less stable. So far I didn't need to make a
soft or even hard reset and I'm using it for 3 days now.


However, my fist thoughts about the overall impression is that the keys are to small and don't serve a proper
work. Also from my personal experience during the past days I think that the Smartphone 2002 platform has 2
navigation keys to much. Take a Sony Ericsson T68: this has the 5 way D-Pad/Joystick, 2 Yes/No (Send/End) keys
plus 2 additional function keys. Same with the Nokia phones while you have an up/down direction key instead
the Joystick. The Smartphone 2002 also comes along with the Send/End keys and the 5 way D-Pad/Joystick. In
addition it has 2 soft-keys like used on Nokia phones too and a home and back/delete key. All this requires a
lot of space that you have less space for the number keys. In fact the number keys became to small and the
menu keys are to close together. Interesting is the fact that the space, used for the keys, is more or less
the same on the HTC Canary and the Ericsson T68:


First two pictures: The HTC Canary have the same space to add 2 more function keys as the Ericsson T68.

Third picture: The Canary gives away a lot of unused space below the display which could used for keys anyhow.




The smallest keys are the Canary keys, closely followed by the Ericsson T68. Here you can press up to three
keys with one finger. The Nokia 6210 provides the largest keys with pressing two keys simultaneously only.




Operating System

While mobile phones are always a question of taste and might looks different from OEM to OEM the OS is
always the same - it's Microsoft's Windows CE based Smartphone 2002 platform which comes close to the Pocket
PC 2002 OS but isn't a Pocket PC 2002 OS (beside the look and feel).


Here I have to admit, that I was pretty skeptical at first. I saw so many evolutions of the Smartphone 2002
platform that I wasn't sure how the final one would look and work.

First I have to agree with my operator contact who told me that the Smartphone 2002 came more from the PDA
then from the cell phone while competition OS like the Nokia Series 60 platforms came more from the mobile
phone then from the PDA. The question is which is better? Well, both are equal so far - at least for me. While
some might feel more comfortable with a cell phone based UI like the Series 60 UI others might feel more
comfortable with the Smartphone 2002 UI. At least both has it strengths and weaknesses and even cell phone
vendors like Sony Ericsson made a move with its new phones. Therefore typical GSM features like call
forwarding or bearing aren't in the focus anymore and more hidden as you don't need to use this features day
in day out while other features like SMS or MMS moved into the foreground. Same with the Smartphone 2002. It
wasn't designed to provide just another cell phone UI but was designed to let the user access the most
important features quick and easy. So you can access the past five used applications right from the home
screen again without switching into the menu. Also you get an overview about your next appointment right from
there as well as you get a status about the messaging functionalities like SMS, MMS and E-Mail.



In addition the Smartphone 2002 home screen provides you the information about your currently used network,
not like you might used to use it with the Pocket PC 2002 Phone Edition platform.


The most impressive functionalities for me are the communication capabilities and finally that's why I really
enjoy the phone. As much as I still love services like WAP, I also love to access the mobile Internet -
depending on the situation and here the Pocket Internet Explorer does a great job. Together with GPRS it gives
a fast and pretty nice access to html web pages!


Also EZOS' MMS client works great, even if it seems to be a little bit slow where I'm not sure if it is
because the software I was able to use was a Beta version only.



I like the unified Inbox which stores all your messages, doesn't matter if it is SMS, MMS or E-Mail. I only
miss a kind of filter which lets me select SMS, MMS or E-Mails only. If you synchronize your Smartphone 2002
with your E-Mail server, you might get a lot of messages. The result in my tests was that I had around 50
E-Mail messages stored in the Inbox and need to read an SMS message which was number 51 which mad me a lot of
scrolling.



Final Conclusion


The question I had to ask myself was if I would buy a Smartphone 2002 and an Orange SPV and while I can say
absolutely yes about the Smartphone 2002 decision, I wouldn't be sure about the Orange SPV. Overall it seems
to be a nice device but the keys are to small for me and to hard to press. They looks stylish but aren't
functional at all. However, the screen is the best I've seen so far on Feature- and Smartphones. It's bright
and clear and works even better in the sun then the Ericsson screen.


Regarding the OS - the Smartphone 2002 platform is a killer for me. Okay, you are right - I'm a Microsoft MVP
but this doesn't matter for me here. It's about the features and for sure, as all Operating Systems, programs
and User Interfaces there is enough room for improvements but the Smartphone 2002 platform includes mostly
everything what I'm using my Pocket PC Phone Edition right now and I can use it with one hand while I'm
walking, an important factor for me! Unfortunately there aren't as much 3rd party applications available out
there as we used to see for Pocket PCs but I'm sure we will see a lot more applications in the near futrure.


Overall I can say that the Smartphone 2002 is an OS platform I would buy, if I would buy an Orange SPV I'm not
sure today, maybe I would because it's the only available Smartphone 2002 device but I would like to see other
OEMs here too which might have more experiences in designing and shaping handsets.


Cheers ~ Arne