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Palm OS Smartphone Reviews

Kyocera 7135 Palm OS Smartphone

Posted May 1, 2003 by Lisa Gade, Editor in Chief

Note: this phone is discontinued, Verizon now offers the Palm Treo 650 as their Palm OS smartphone offering. Kyocera is no longer developing smartphones.

The long awaited Kyocera 7135 is the successor to the very popular 6035. Originally scheduled for release late last year, the 7135 is finally available from Verizon Wireless and Alltel in the US. I was a big fan of the 6035, and I'm thrilled to be using the 7135 as my new phone!

Kyocera 7135

Kyocera 7135 cradle

This cradle is included and has both USB and serial connectors. The 7135 comes with both Mac and PC software for syncing.


The Kyocera 6035 was probably the most successful Palm OS Smartphone in the US, running a close race with the Handspring Treo models. However it was large by mobile phone standards and had a grayscale display. The 7135 sports a much smaller clamshell design and has a high quality color display. Not only that, it has an SD slot supporting SDIO and an MP3 player. While not as small and light as popular miniature mobiles like the Motorola T720 and Sony Ericsson T68i, it nonetheless is quite pocketable. As you can see from the image on the lower right, it's actually smaller in height and width than the Palm Tungsten C (and Tungsten W which is the same size as the Tungsten C). It is significantly thicker than these Tungstens.

Design and Ergonomics

The 7135 has a clamshell design (otherwise known as a flip phone). The 2.5" display on the top half is both your phone screen and the Palm OS screen. The Graffiti area is at the top of the lower half of the phone, above the number pad. I thought it might be awkward using the Graffiti area, especially being a lefty who writes "over the line", but it turns out to be very easy to use and I've yet to bump the screen with my knuckle while writing. The Graffiti area has silkscreen buttons for Home, Menu, Phone App and Find. You can also adjust brightness and contrast using icons on the Graffiti area.

Below the Graffiti area, there are hardware buttons for calendar, phone book, email and web browser, with a center rocker that acts as the Palm OS up/down buttons and also controls phone functions when in phone mode.

The number pad is a standard mobile phone design, with additional buttons to turn backlight and the Palm on and off, and to activate speaker phone. When in Palm mode, the number keys are not active, but the send button, speakerphone and brightness/Palm power screen are active. The phone offers options to backlight the keys and Graffiti area for 10 seconds or 30 seconds after you press a keypad button— nice!

comparing Kyocera 7135 and Tungsten C

Comparing the size of the Kyocera 7135 and the Palm Tungsten C


The unit feels good in the hand and is a comfortable size for use against the head. It's got a deep gray metallic finish plastic case with a silver inset on the outer front casing. It looks professional, slick and attractive. So far it's turned more than a few heads thanks to its good looks. There's an external monochrome LCD along the top edge of the phone which is readable when you're wearing it on you belt. The LCD has a battery meter, connection strength meter and displays the time. It provides caller ID info when a call comes in, and has a message indicator.

The left side of the phone has volume up and down buttons which control the ringer volume when not in a call, and voice volume when in a call. The headset jack is above the volume controls, under a rubber door.


Wireless service is provided by Verizon Wireless and Alltel in the US. The 7135 supports the Express Network, Verizon's name for their high speed 1xRTT data network capable of speeds up to 144k and averaging about 40 - 70k these days in metro areas.




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It's a triband phone supporting both US CDMA bands and analog (analog, 800 MHz and 1900 MHz), which means it should work just about anywhere in the US, including rural areas. Note that digital data connections require you to be in a digital service area and to use the high speed data connection, you'll need to be in one of the many major metro areas that offer this service. Given the aggressive rollout of high speed service in the US, most major cities are already covered. When in a 1xRTT service zone, you'll see "1X" at the top of the phone app screen, and a signal strength meter regardless of service type. If you're not in an Express Network area, or if you prefer not to pay for high speed services, you can still use the 7135 to connect using QNC (Quick 2 Net) at 14.4k and pay only for minutes used.

Connection speeds on the Express Network are noticeably faster than 14.4 QNC connections when browsing. Pages load reasonably fast and I've yet to feel impatient. I generally use Handspring's Blazer 2.0 (not included) since that's the fastest web browser on Palm OS.

The voice quality is excellent, and it's pulled in a strong signal even inside of large buildings such as malls and didn't drop calls. It has a powerful speakerphone, voice dialing (you can store up to 30 voice dialing entries), speed dialing and works with standard cell phone headsets. It has a replaceable antenna that measures 5" (wow!) when extended. I've yet to have to extend the antenna.

Wireless Software Included

The Kyocera 7135 comes with a Phone application that you can launch by pressing the silkscreen Phone button, and it automatically launches when the phone rings and you open the flip to answer or plug in a headset. The phone app does not give you an onscreen dialer (there are 3rd party apps for that), and you'll use the rocker button and integrated action button to navigate the app since it isn't touch sensitive. Why isn't it touch sensitive? So you don't accidentally activate someone on screen when the phone is against your face. The phone app screen mimics a standard mobile phone screen, with service indicator, signal strength and GPS positioning indicator and a battery meter along the top. There are menu listings for Recent Calls, Messages, Address Book (you can view the Palm OS address book, add a new contact and view your speed dial and voice dial lists). There's also a Phone Preferences menu item which will take you to the Palm app called Phone Prefs.

Phone Prefs offers quite a few features and customizations. You can set flip settings (whether or not calls are answered by opening the flip, and if the phone display should appear whenever the flip is opened), select phone alerts for such things as missed calls and entering a roaming area, turn on voice answer and wake up, set call volumes and ring tones and much more.

The 7135 comes with Eudora Mail, the Eudora web browser, EIS Web browser (a browser that supports HTML 4.0, JavaScript 1.3, Cookies, images and SSL 2.0) and Openwave's WAP browser, all built into ROM. Even if you somehow wipe out your Palm data, these will remain intact . Mobile Mail for Palm OS is included on the CD, as is Eudora Internet Suite. All in all, a generous bundle of Internet apps to get you started!

Integration of Palm and Phone

Most smartphones are either closer to mobile phones or PDAs, and the Kyocera manages to do both well. The standard hardware number pad and flip phone design give it a mainstream phone feel, yet it covers all the bases as a Palm OS PDA. I find it more usable as both a phone and PDA than the Treo, but this is somewhat a matter of personal taste. Those of you who do a lot of messaging may prefer the Treo's built-in keyboard. There are a few areas where the Kyo could do better. You won't be able to dial using the number pad unless the Kyocera is in the phone app. You must either launch the phone app, or press the send button to bring up the phone app, or set the kyocera to automatically run the phone app when the flip is opened if you want to make a call in standard mobile phone fashion. This doesn't mean that the unit isn't a good mobile with convenience features for phone users. When not in the phone app, you can voice dial by pressing the send button and speaking your contact's name. When using a headset with the flip closed, you can wake up the phone and voice dial by saying "wake up", waiting for a confirmation beep, then speaking your contact's name. You can also use voice commands to answer a call. The phone uses the Palm address book, and you can click on any number in your main address book listing to dial or send an email or text message (you do not have to go into the detailed view for the contact). If you've got a phone number in a note, you can highlight the number and switch to the phone app to automatically dial the number.

Horsepower and Expansion

The Kyocera runs Palm OS 4.1, has a Dragonball processor running at 33 MHz and has 16 megs of RAM. Not the most stellar specs compared to the latest non-phone capable Palm OS PDAs, but it gets the job done well and beats out the Samsung i-330 which runs the now ancient Palm OS 3.5.3. Response times are good, games run fine and it's a very usable Palm OS PDA. While we might be longing for Palm OS 5 and faster processors, one benefit of Palm OS 4 is that you can run web clipping apps (sometimes referred to as WCA or PQA apps). These are very efficient apps originally developed for the Palm VII and i705 that allow you to access a variety of sites and online services using very little bandwidth. They're generally free and quite small. Visit Palm's web site or for a list of available web clippings.

The 7135 has an SD expansion slot located on the right side under a rubber door. This means you'll be able to expand your Kyo's memory (a must if you want to play MP3s!) and use SDIO cards. I benchmarked the speed of several different brands of 128 meg SD memory cards using VFSMark, and got lower than expected performance. Ttotal scores were in the mid 50s to low 60s, where 100 represents the speed of a Palm m500 using a 16 meg SD card (higher numbers are better).

I tested it with Palm's SD Bluetooth card, and it worked when connecting to BT LAN access points and HotSyncing to a PC and Mac (OS 10.2) equiped with Belkin's USB Bluetooth adapter. Transmission speeds with the Kyo are slower than using other Palm's with the BT card, and syncing was quite slow via BT. Note that Palm's SD BT card does not support audio or headset profiles, so you won't be able to use Bluetooth headsets with this card. Perhaps Palm will update the driver in the future to support headsets since the Palm Tungsten W could also benefit from this.

Battery Life, Charger and Cradle

The Kyocera comes with one user-replaceable 1200 mAh Lithium Ion battery (in comparison, the Treo doesn't have a user-replaceable battery), and claimed talk time is 3.5 hours and the standby time is 160 hours. These runtimes are a bit optimistic. If you use the phone for about 2 hours of talk/data time and use the PDA frequently during the day, the phone should last until you get home, but you will need to charge it nightly. If you're a light phone user, then you'll likely get 2 days per charge. Unlike Palm OS PDAs, there is no battery meter at the top of the home screen. Instead you'll have to look at the battery meter on the external LCD to check your battery level. Unfortunately, that meter, like most mobile phone meters, only shows charge level in 25% increments. 3rd party software that supports showing the Palm OS battery level (including some popular games) do display correct Palm-style battery level info.

The 7135 comes with an attractive weighted desktop cradle (see image above). It has a slot for both the phone and a spare battery so you can charge them both. An LED on the cradle indicates when a spare battery is charging. The travel charger can plug into the cradle or directly into the phone, so don't need to bring the cradle if you travel (in comparison, the Samsung i330 must be charged in the cradle). The sync cable is permanently attached to the cradle and terminates in dual USB and serial connectors (see image above).


The display is a rich and vibrant 2.5" 65,000 color display with a resolution of 160 x 160 pixels . That's the same size screen as the Kyocera 6035 and the Palm m130. Both brightness and contrast are adjustable, and the screen is easily readable in bright daylight. I wish the 7135 had a higher resolution display. Now that I've become accustomed to 320 x 320 pixel displays on the latest Palm brand PDAs and Sony Cliés, it's hard to go back. That said, the display has great color saturation, contrast and brightness. Photos look quite nice on screen, but not as good as the high end Cliés and transflective-screened Palms look even better. But to put things in perspective, this unit is a phone and a convergence device, and that means giving up some high end Palm features.

Software Bundle

This phone comes with a great deal of bundled software, and most of the Internet apps are built into ROM which means you'll have about 15 megs of free space to install your programs and data. The 7135 comes with Palm Desktop 4.0 for Windows and Mac. It uses the standard Palm driver for syncing and gets along with existing Palm Desktop 4.x installations. You'll also get drivers to use the Kyo as a modem for Windows 98 and newer, and this is where the Express Network high speed connection really shines compared to the old 14.4 QNC connection. For PC users, you'll get MP3 Desktop for transferring MP3s to your 7135's storage card, a ring tone maker, Chapura's Pocket Mirror Standard Edition (for syncing to Outlook), and the desktop component of MGI PhotoSuite for transferring images and movies to the Kyo. PhotoSuite for Palm is built into ROM so you won't need to install it on the Kyo. You'll also get Quickoffice (for working with Word and Excel docs), and pdf manuals for most all of these applications as well as the phone itself.

MP3 Player

Yes, the Kyo even has a built-in MP3 player, and it uses MP3s for ring tones so you can have a ball making your own ringers using the included Ring Maker software. The MP3 player has JukeBox, Playlist and Downloader features. The JukeBox is the actual player interface, and has volume, balance, bass and treble sliders. The Downloader function is for connecting the Kyo to your PC for MP3 file transfer using the included MP3 desktop app. Just as with the Zire 71, downloading tunes this way takes a long time. If you're into MP3s, I suggest you use a card reader for faster file transfer. The manual doesn't state the max bit rate supported for encoding, but given the processor speed, I'd stick with a max of 128k. I did play several MP3s encoded at 128k and they played fine through the built-in speaker and through the optional hands-free stereo headset.

The 7135 has a stereo headphone jack, but it's a standard mobile phone sized 2.5mm jack rather than a 3.5mm mini-stereo headphone jack used by consumer electronics devices and multimedia PDAs. Kyocera went with the 2.5 mm jack so you can use standard hands-free sets when using the device as a phone. I tried using a 3.5 to 2.5 mm stereo adapter with stereo headphones but only got sound in the right ear. A shame, since this solution works with the T-Mobile Pocket PC Phone which also has a 2.5 mm stereo jack. Kyocera does sell a combined handsfree and stereo audio head set for $40, and MP3s sound quite good through it. You'll be able to use this headset to make calls as well, and the MP3 player will automatically mute if a call comes in. It's hard to compare the MP3 playback quality with other multimedia PDAs like the Clié NX70V, since I can't use the same set of headphones to make the comparison. Using the stereo Kyo headset (has earbuds) and the earbud headset included with the NX (probably one of the best sounding PDAs for MP3), I'd say the NX has the edge for bass and stereo separation, but then it can't make phone calls, can it?


Pro: Currently my favorite Palm OS Smartphone! A very slick design and reasonable size and weight for a smartphone. Solid build quality and sturdy design-- the hinge will outlast me! Vibrant color display, polyphonic sound, MP3 player and an SD expansion slot. Newer OS version than Treo and Sprint's Samsung i330. Supports web clippings, which help keep the bandwidth charges down. Voice quality and connection strength are very good. Generous software bundle with Internet apps in ROM, leaving more space free for you to install your own software. Keypad and Graffiti area backlighting are wonderful features! Con: Like most Palm OS smartphones currently on the market, the OS version, display resolution and processor can't compare with current high end Palm OS PDAs. Number pad isn't active unless you're in the phone app. Only Kyocera's own stereo handsfree set works if you want to listen to MP3s.

List price $499 with 2 year service contract, $529 with 1 year service contract.



Display: Backlit, 160 x 160 pixel color TFT display with 65,000 colors.

Performance: CPU Speed: 33 MHz DragonBall™MZ. 16 megs of RAM. Palm OS 4.1.

Size: 3.97 in x 2.43 in x 1.17 in (100.8 mm x 61.6 mm x 29.7 mm). 6.6 oz.

Audio: Built in speaker. Has polyphonic sound and comes with 20 ring tones. Supports alarm sounds, LED alert and vibrating alerts.

Expansion: 1 SD slot supporting SDIO that accepts SD and MMC cards.

In the Box: CD, manual, phone, cradle, plastic holster with belt clip, battery, charger and 2 extra styli.

Battery: Comes with a 1200 mAh rechargeable Lithium Ion battery. User replaceable.

Software: Palm OS 4.1. Includes the usual suite of Palm applications, including Address Book, Date Book, To Do List, Memo Pad and Calculator. PhotoSuite, Tetris, MP3 player app and Eudora Mail and web browser built into ROM. Quickoffice 5 included.

Desktop: Palm Desktop 4 for PC and Mac. Chapura Pocket Mirror (for syncing to Outlook on PCs),

Network: CDMA supporting 1xRTT for data. Service provided by Verizon Wireless and Alltel in the US. Telstra is the carrier in Australia, and is coming to Canada. Dual band/Tri-mode (CDMA 800 MHz; AMPS 800 MHz, CDMA 1900 MHz (PCS)). Claimed talk time: up to 3.5 hours and standby time: Up to 160 hours.


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