Note: Discontinued and replaced by the Cingular 2125 MS Smartphone in Feb. 2006
Posted Nov. 28, 2004 by Lisa
Gade, Editor in Chief
Sometimes good things do come in small
packages. Witness the SMT5600 which is a superbly compact Windows
Mobile Smartphone. It's downright petite by smartphone standards
and is about the same size as other small candy bar cell phones
on the market. The phone is made by HTC, the same folks who brought
you the unit's predecessor the SPV
E200, as well as several classic
iPAQs like the iPAQ 5555, 4150 and
the extremely popular XDA
II Pocket PC Phone Edition model. Several carriers and vendors
sell the device, so it's known by many names. In the US, it's
the Audiovox SMT5600 sold by AT&T Wireless which is the unit
we're reviewing. Cingular now offers the phone as well. In
Europe Orange offers it as the C500, and in Europe, the Middle
East and Asia iMate and Carrier Devices offer it as the SP3.
HTC's code name for the device is "Typhoon".
Other than a few firmware differences resulting from carrier
customizations and band support, and differing versions of Windows
Media Player, they're the same unit.
Front and back views of the SMT5600
Despite its small size and relatively
reasonable price tag, this smartphone has it all: the latest OS,
Bluetooth, a VGA camera, good battery life and a fast 200MHz processor.
It comes with ActiveSync and Outlook for Windows, a stereo earbud
headset and horizontal case with belt clip. In the US, the SMT5600
is offered by AT&T Wireless. Though all stores are now branded as
Cingular stores thanks to the merger, those stores which used to
be AT&T still stock the phone as do online retailers like Amazon.
MS Smartphones belong to the Windows Mobile family
of devices but don't confuse them with their larger kin, the Pocket
PC Phone Edition models such as the iPAQ
6315 and Samsung i700. PPCPE models are full-fledged Pocket
PCs with integrated mobile phone radios. MS Smartphones are smaller
devices that resemble traditional cell phones and offer slimmed-down
versions of the Pocket PC software you may be familiar with. MS
Smartphones cannot run Pocket PC software, though quite a few apps
have been ported to Smartphone, and they do not have touch-screens
and styli. They are the perfect solution for users who want advanced
features not found in standard phones such as a strong PIM suite,
multimedia playback and above all, easy syncing to Windows desktops
MS Smartphones have an interface that's very similar
to Pocket PCs (minus stylus support) and are somewhat similar to
Windows desktops. They have the same Today Screens found on Pocket
PCs and a Start Menu that lists all applications installed on the
phone. As with other
non-touch screen phones, you'll enter text using the number pad
and have a choice of multi-press, T9 predictive text or number
Design and Ergonomics
The SMT5600 is finished in charcoal gray and silver.
The front and sides are made of metal while the
back is plastic. The phone looks and feels very well made with a solid
build quality and professional appearance. The phone has a minimalistic
design with a gentle taper toward the rear and bottom which make it feel
great in the hand. Like all MS Smartphones, it has two action buttons
just below the display that aid in navigation and a large rocker with
the Home and Back (delete when entering text) buttons. The large call
send and end buttons flank the interestingly designed 5-way directional
pad which is rather long and narrow. The d-pad works very well for
moving up and down, and OK for left and right. It isn't terribly easy
to press it down for the action/select function since the d-pad (more
like a rocker) tends to move up or down too easily, changing your selection.
The d-pad has a long travel when pressing down, which doesn't make matters
easier. It is by no means a horrible design, but it can't compare to
the large and easy to operate Motorola
MPx220 d-pad and it isn't the
greatest for games. The lightly domed number keys are very easy to operate
and are responsive enough for super-fast dialers. The keys have blue
backlighting that's activated when a button is pressed. The unit
has a light sensor just below the keypad that tells the phone when backlight
is needed. If you prefer, you can disable the sensor so the backlighting
always comes on, but the sensor works so well, you'll likely wish to
leave it on automatic.
On the top of the phone you'll find the power button
and IR window. The small call volume rocker is on the left side near
the top, and I do wish that HTC had make it a bit larger. The same can
be said of the camera button which is located on the right side near
the top: it works fine but it's a bit small. The 2.5mm stereo headset
jack is located on the bottom as is the standard mini-USB sync and charge
port. The phone comes with both a mini-USB to USB sync cable that supports
USB charging and a charger. You must install ActiveSync from the CD to
install the device specific driver or USB charging via the sync cable
The Orange SPV C500. Sold primarily in Europe, this phone is identical
to the SMT5600 except for carrier customizations, branding and supported
Size Comparison : Motorola
MPx220, Sierra Wireless Voq, SMT5600 and the Sony Ericsson
The user replaceable battery is located
under a door on the back of the phone and the camera lens and self portrait
mirror are on the upper half of the phone's back. The phone has an external
car antenna jack on the back near the camera lens. A single LED on the
front left above the display indicates network status (flashes green
when service is available), charging status (amber when charging, solid
green when charged) and Bluetooth status (flashes Blue to indicate Bluetooth
is on and will alternately flash blue and green when BT is on and the
phone has service).
Horsepower and Performance
The Audiovox is a fast performer thanks
to its Texas Instruments OMAP 730 ARM family 200MHz processor and the
improved Windows Mobile 2003 Second Edition Smartphone operating system.
Unlike first and even some second generation MS Smartphones, the 3rd
generation SMT5600 feels fast and very responsive. You can quickly scroll
through menus, applications launch fast and perform well. Even video
playback is good with files encoded at 300kbps bit rate or less. In fact,
the Audiovox outperforms the Motorola MPx220 playing WMV and MPEG4 files
by a small margin.
The Audiovox has 64 megs of ROM where the OS and built-in
applications are stored, ~28 megs of which is available for you to store
programs and data. It has 32 megs of RAM used as program memory (like
RAM in your PC). For expansion the SMT5600 has a mini-SD card slot located
under the battery. That's right, like many Series 60 Nokia phones, you'll
need to turn off the phone and remove the battery to insert or remove
the memory card. Mini-SD cards are fairly new and are 1/2 the length
of a standard SD card and are currently available up to 512 megs.
Since the unit has a mini-SD slot, it can't use standard SD cards or
SDIO cards such as SD WiFi cards. Why did HTC go with mini-SD? Because
it allowed them to make the phone smaller.
Phone Features and Reception
The SMT5600 has very good reception (RF) that comes
close to the Motorola MPx220's reception. In areas with mid to strong
signals they're equal with the MPx220 having a slight edge in very poor
signal areas. However, there were times when our SMT5600 could make and
receive calls with less than 1 bar of signal! Nokia is still king when
it comes to GSM reception, but as long as you don't live and work in
areas with very poor coverage the Audiovox should work well. Voice
quality, both incoming and outgoing are excellent with very little of
the background hiss or white noise heard on most GSM phones. Call volume
through the built-in earpiece is decent and we could hear easily
in home and office locations. If you're in a noisy public place, you'll
want to use a headset. Outgoing call volume is very good as is voice
quality. Call volume and quality is excellent with the included wired
stereo earbud headset and was also excellent with a variety of Bluetooth
headsets. Speakerphone volume is very good, with excellent mic sensitivity
and very, very little distortion.
The SMT5600 is a tri-band phone that works on the
850/1800/1900MHz bands, which means it will work anywhere in the
US where GSM service is available. In the US AT&T uses both the 850MHz
and 1900MHz bands, as does Cingular. 1800MHz is used in Asia and somewhat
in Europe, though Europe is mostly 900MHz. If you plan to travel to Europe,
the SMT5600 should provide some coverage, but you might want to consider
a quad band phone which adds 900MHz. The overseas versions of the SMT5600
(iMate SP3 and Orange C500) are triband world phones with 900/1800/1900
MHz coverage which means they'll work in Europe, Asia and in the US though
you'll miss the 850MHz coverage used by AT&T/Cingular. If you're a T-Mobile
US customer considering buying an imported SP3 or C500, then you currently
won't need the 850MHz band since T-Mobile only has 1900MHz coverage in
Phone features are standardized among all MS Smartphones,
so the experience is similar across these devices. To make a call, you
can press the call send button and dial using the number pad or dial
from call history. You can also speed dial by pressing and holding a
number that's assigned to a phone number in your address book. You can
add a speed dial entry from the Contacts application for anyone in your
address book and have up to 99 speed dial entries. Standard phone features
include call waiting, call history, speakerphone, call barring, call
forwarding and caller ID. The phone supports manual network selection.
The phone also supports profiles, WAV and MP3 ringtones, vibration and
you can assign custom ringtones to individual contacts.
Voice dialing is a must on a mobile phone, and the
Audiovox provides it. You'll record voice tags for contacts or even applications
you wish to launch and press and hold the volume down button to start
voice recognition. Unlike the MPx220, the SMT5600 doesn't offer voice
recognition software, so you will need to record voice tags for those
contacts you wish to voice dial. However, voice tags are very accurate
and you won't need to speak other commands to call a contact (with Voice
Signal on the MPx220, you'll need to say "name dial" before
speaking the contact's name so the phone knows the context for your voice
command). The SMT5600 is the only MS Smartphone that supports voice dialing
through a Bluetooth headset which is a big plus!
The Audiovox has class 10 GPRS for data. That's the
fastest GPRS connection but we'd still like to see EDGE support in a
Windows Mobile Smartphone someday! Like all MS Smartphones, the Audiovox
comes with a slimmed down version of Internet Explorer for MS Smartphone
and a slimmed down version of Outlook which supports POP3, IMAP and Exchange
servers. You can set up multiple email accounts, use authentication,
SSL and even specify different outgoing server username and passwords
if necessary. Mail supports attachments, and also handles SMS and MMS
IE in first generation MS Smartphones, the 2003 SE version is reasonably
fast and it does a decent job of rendering pages. Most web pages loaded
in 10 to 20 seconds rather than the 50 seconds it took our SPV E200 and
MPx200 earlier generation MS Smartphones. Of course, WAP sites will load
even faster since they're optimized for small screens and slow over the
air connections. If you're interested in an alternative browser, check
out Opera for
MS Smartphone. You'll also get MSN Messenger and Pocket MSN on the
phone (though it seems that Pocket MSN only works with Verizon service
at the moment). If you want to use a variety of IM accounts, check
out the free Agile
Messenger which supports, MSN, AIM, Yahoo and ICQ.
The phone has a large and lovely color display.
It's 2.2" and runs at the standard MS Smartphone resolution of
176 x 220 pixels. The screen is very bright, sharp and vibrant.
Photos look very good as do videos, and the screen is sharp and
easy to read.
The built-in side-firing speaker is surprisingly
loud for a compact phone and you'll easily hear MP3s, videos, game
sounds and system alerts. The speakerphone is also very good with
excellent mic sensitivity and very good speaker volume. If you
wish to use the phone as an MP3 player, use the included stereo
earbud headset which plugs into the 2.5mm jack on the phone's bottom
edge. MP3s sound great and are quite loud through the headset.
The SMT5600 has an integrated VGA camera that
can also shoot videos. As with all VGA camera phones, you won't
want to throw away your dedicated digital camera but they are
great for catching special moments on the fly. The camera takes
pictures in JPEG format up to 640 x 480 in size, and the quality
is similar to the unit's predecessor, the SPV
E200. It handles low light situations and indoor shots well.
Outdoor shots can be over-exposed on very sunny days, but overall
the camera does a decent job of rendering colors and doesn't
show a lot of distortion near the edges of photos.
We found that the camera did well on automatic
settings, but if you wish you can experiment with several different
light balance settings (auto, daylight, incandescent, fluorescent,
night) and choose from three effect settings (grayscale, sepia,
cool). The camera has 4x digital zoom, but zoom is only supported
in resolutions lower than 640 x 480. You can take photos in basic,
normal, fine or superfine quality. Images shot at 640 x 480 in
superfine quality average 115k in size.
The SMT has a very good camcorder for shooting
videos with audio. You can take videos in MMS format (3gp) or higher
quality MP4 and 2x digital zoom is supported in both formats. Videos
are 176 x 144 resolution and you can turn off audio recording if
you wish. MMS videos are OK and we don't expect much more from
a format optimized for sending over the air. MP4 videos were surprisingly
good and can be played back by the included Windows Media Player
10. The camcorder offers the same white balance settings and effects
as the camera app, and we found that auto settings worked best.
The viewfinder refreshes quickly when shooting photos and video.
How do the camera and camcorder compare to
the MPx220? You'd think the Motorola would win hands down thanks
to its 1.23MP sensor, but in fact the SMT5600 does a better job
of color balance, taking photos in dimly lit areas and shows less
These days Bluetooth is a must for road-warriors
and technophiles and the Audiovox won't disappoint. It has an integrated
Bluetooth 1.1 class 2 radio that supports the hands-free, dial up
networking (DUN) and OBEX push and serial port profiles. That means
you can use Bluetooth headsets, transfer files, ActiveSync over
Bluetooth and even use GPS with the phone. We tested quite a few
headsets and the Parrot car kit and they worked well with the phone:
call quality and volume were excellent and range was average. We
used the phone as a GPRS modem over Bluetooth with an HP
Dell Axim X50 and a PC and it worked
without a hitch. No special dialing strings are required and it was
very easy to set up. All in all, Bluetooth is reliable and stable
on the phone. The only glitch we ran into was trying to send files
over BT after using a headset earlier. Twice in a two week period
the phone couldn't initiate the file send and we had to reboot it
to reset Bluetooth.
Battery life has been a weak point of MS Smartphones,
but the newest models, the SMT5600 and the Motorola MPx220 beat that
rap, getting a few days per charge with average use. The SMT5600
beats the MPx220 by a small margin, and runs considerably longer
than the SPV E200 and the 1st generation Motorola
MPx200. It has an ample 1050 mAh Lithium Ion battery that's user
replaceable. The phone comes with a charger that plugs into the mini-USB
port on the phone and a USB sync cable that allows you to charge
the phone over USB (you must install ActiveSync and the phone's driver
to activate USB charging from a PC).
In our tests, we talked one hour per day using
a Bluetooth headset, surfed the web over GPRS for 30 minutes, checked
mail 10 times, shot 10 photos, watched a few 5 minute videos stored
on a mini SD card and played games for 30 minutes. The phone had
65% charge remaining and we needed to charge it every other day.
For a smartphone, these are excellent runtimes.
Sample photos, unedited. Taken at highest
quality, 640 x 480. Click on an image to see the full size
Outdoors mid-day (not direct sun).
Lovely old MG!
Big fish in a tank.
Odwalla bottles in a supermarket.
Like all MS Smartphones, the Audiovox comes with
the Smartphone version of Internet Explorer, Media Player 10, MSN
Messenger, ActiveSync for the phone and Windows desktops, a file
manager, and MS Smartphone versions of Outlook: Messaging, Contacts,
Calendar and Tasks. For some reason, Microsoft has never included
a Notes program that syncs to Outlook notes, but an excellent 3rd
party program called SmartphoneNotes will
do the trick if you're a big user of Outlook notes. The SMT5600
doesn't come with an MS Office file viewer, so you'll have to purchase
one separately if you wish to view Word and Excel files. The phone
comes with a Java runtime, calculator, Resource Management
(manage tasks and storage space), Jawbreaker,and Solitaire.
As mentioned, the phone has voice dialing software
which allows you to voice dial contacts and launch programs by
speaking voice tags you've recorded. The phone supports picture
caller ID using ArcSoft's Caller ID application. You can attach
a picture to any contact in your address book and when that person
calls, you'll see their photo on the display.
Absolutely a great smartphone! This device is
remarkably small and is packed with features. It's well-built,
attractive, has a large and bright display and feels great in the
hand. Throw in Bluetooth, easy syncing to Outlook, a VGA camera,
voice dialing over a BT headset, expandable storage and you've
got a winner. The phone runs the latest OS, performs speedily and
has good RF. It's a rare thing when we can't think of any cons,
but so far we haven't found anything to dislike other than the
lack of the faster EDGE data connection. But since no Windows Mobile
Smartphone currently offers EDGE, we can't complain too much.
TFT color LCD, 64K colors. Screen Size Diag: 2.2 ".
Resolution: 176 x 220 pixels.
Ion 1050 mAh rechargeable battery which is user
replaceable. Claimed talk time: 3.5 to 4 hours. Standby
140 hours. World charger (100 to 240v) included.
Instruments OMAP 730 ARM compatible 200MHz processor.
64 MB built-in ROM (28 megs available). 32 MB RAM.
x 1.82 x .69 inches. Weight: 3.6 ounces.
in speaker, mic and 2.5mm stereo headset
jack. A stereo earbud headset with mic is included.
Voice Recorder and Windows Pocket Media Player 10
included on the Audiovox (the C500 has Windows Media
850/1800/1900MHz bands for the Audiovox SMT5600.
The Orange C500 and iMate SP3 support 900/1800/1900MHz
bands. Class 10 GPRS for data. Class 2 Bluetooth
1.1 with headset, handsfree, OBEX push, DUN (dial
up networking) and serial port profiles. Standard
Smartphone version of Windows Mobile 2003 Second
Edition operating system. Smartphone versions of
Microsoft Internet Explorer, Outlook (email/SMS/MMS,
Contacts, Calendar and Tasks but not Notes included),
MSN Instant Messenger, Pocket MSN, Voice Recorder
and Windows Media Player 10.
Also included: Voice dialing,
Picture Caller ID, Camera and Video capture apps,
Resource Management (task and storage manager), Photo
Album, Solitaire, Jawbreaker, Speed Dial, Calculator,
Java runtime (intent Java MIDlet Manager by Tao Group
Ltd) and Call History. ActiveSync 3.7.1
and Outlook 2002 for PCs included.
mini SD slot located under the battery (does not
accept regular SD cards). IR port.