What's not: Low resolution camera, currently more expensive than Verizon and Sprint's counterparts.
Reviewed July 1, 2009 by Lisa Gade, Editor
Yes indeed, a smartphone with 3G on T-Mobile US! The Dash 3G, otherwise known by its code name, HTC Snap (a name that Sprint stuck with for their HTC Snap), is a Windows Mobile 6.1 Standard Edition smartphone. It has a landscape QVGA non-touchscreen display and a great QWERTY keyboard (we like it best among all the HTC Snap/Ozone variants). Likewise we like the trackball quite well and BlackBerry converts will feel at home.
The Dash 3G offers quite a bit more than the original Dash, including a much faster 528MHz Qualcomm CPU, 256 megs of RAM and flash storage, a GPS that works with Telenav (a $10/month subscription navigation service offered through T-Mobile) as well as Google Maps and Windows Live Search. It has a meager 2 megapixel camera, WiFi and Bluetooth with A2DP Bluetooth stereo support.
Other goodies include HTC's YouTube player, plenty of IM clients (AIM, Google Talk, Windows Live Messenger, MySpace IM and Yahoo) and Microsoft's Office Mobile suite.
If you're a T-Mobile G1 user who's tired of the G1's bulk and poor battery life, the Dash 3G will seem like a thin slice of heaven. It's extremely thin, small overall and fits in a pocket. The battery life is surprisingly good for a 3G HSDPA phone and ours easily lasted 3 days on a charge with moderate use. MS Direct Push email will eat more battery, so expect more like 1.5 days if you use push email. That's obviously quite a bit better than the G1's battery life, but you do forego the touch screen.
The Dash 3G is thin. That's the volume rocker on the smartphone's left side, and that's the only side control.
The Dash 3G went on sale mid-July 2009, and the price seems a bit high at $169 with a 2 year contract. The retail price is quite reasonable at $349, however. If you want a data plan, the phone is available only with T-Mobile's 3G Smartphone Unlimited data plan ($25/month with no SMS/MMS and $35/month with unlimited messages), just like the G1. A data plan isn't required though, for those of you who want to save money and use WiFi for data.
Here's our 7 minute video review of the T-Mobile Dash 3G:
Ergonomics and Keyboard
The all-black Dash 3G has a non-slip back and the front buttons have the same texture. It's not as grippy as the original Dash soft touch finish but it helps keep the phone firmly in hand. Likewise, your fingers won't slip off the buttons as they do on Sprint's version. The keyboard is lovely with large domed keys that aren't slippery but aren't too sticky either. The black keys are backlit in white and are very easy to see in the dark. You can set backlight to come on whenever a key is pressed or leave it up to the ambient light sensor.
Phone and GPS
The Dash 3G is a quad band GSM world phone that works on all the world's GSM bands and and EDGE networks. There's 3G on T-Mobile's AWS bands (1700/2100MHz), and T-Mobile is quickly growing their 3G coverage in major cities. Voice quality is very good and both incoming and outgoing audio are clear with good volume. It's one of the better sounding smartphones on T-Mobile right now, as tested on their 3G network in the Dallas area. Bluetooth headsets play nicely with the Dash 3G and the speakerphone is adequate. The phone has MS Voice Command for voice dialing and commands and there's a dedicated key (bottom row, rightmost key on the QWERTY). MS Voice Command is a capable and powerful application and it doesn't require voice tag recording.
The Dash 3G's GPS works fairly well. Some HTC phones have a strong GPS, while others are quite weak and benefit from a good aGPS system to speed up satellite fixes. The Dash 3G sits firmly in the middle in terms of GPS strength. We had to take the Dash 3G outside to get a fix (even a warm fix) while stronger phone GPS manage a fix indoors within 10 feet of a window (i.e. the Nokia N97 and Sprint HTC Touch Pro). The Samsung Behold also did best outdoors as do several of AT&T's feature phones, so we're not complaining. Once outside, the Dash 3G managed a cold fix (first fix after booting) in a minute. Warm starts took only 15 to 20 seconds. The GPS isn't locked to any application and you can use TeleNav, T-Mobile's $10/month navigation application, or the included Google Maps and Windows Live or your own application. TeleNav does an excellent job of giving clear spoken directions, tracking traffic and providing POIs. If you need spoken turn-by-turn directions, it's an good turnkey solution. Using TeleNav, the GPS kept up with our location, even on the highway where some GPS-enabled phones lag a few hundred yards behind. The speaker is loud enough to be heard in a sedan or light pickup, and traffic updates were mostly on-target.
Web and Multimedia
The Dash 3G is a pleasure to use on T-Mobile's HSDPA network. Web pages load fairly quickly, though IE Mobile 6 doesn't load them quite as fast as Netfront on Samsung TouchWiz feature phones like the Samsung Highlight and Memoir. Happily, IE 6 does a better job of rendering HTML websites and supports more advanced features than the older version that came with all Windows Mobile phones for the past few years. Page layouts now strong resemble their desktop counterparts and there's even Flash Lite 3.0 support. Few mobile web browsers support Flash Lite (Nokia S60 smartphones represent the biggest segment) and they're often bogged down by Flash. The Dash 3G handled Flash well and the phone itself didn't slow to a crawl.
WinMo Standard smartphones haven't been multimedia powerhouses since they were saddled with slower processors. That's changing and the Dash 3G has the same CPU used in a variety of WinMo Pro (touch screen) phones. That means it can handle locally stored video playback decently, unlike the last Dash, and you won't have to convert files down to very low bitrates. The screen is small and at QVGA resolution, you likely won't want to spend hours watching a movie but it's great for shorts. Since T-Mo lacks a streaming media service, there's not much going on there, but you can stream YouTube mobile to your heart's content. HTC's YouTube player is similar to that on the various HTC Diamond, Diamond2 and TouchPro2 phones.
The music player is the usual Windows Mobile bare bones application. It does handle the basics like playlists, syncing to Windows Media Player on the desktop and more. Third party players add more features and eye candy if you desire something more. The phone's speaker is decent and sound through the included stereo earbuds is quite nice. The Dash 3G, like nearly all recent HTC devices, uses HTC's ExtUSB jack for headphones/charging/sync. T-Mobile and HTC also include a bulky dongle adapter that allows you to listen to music while charging the phone and use 2.5mm or 3.5mm headsets and headphones if you wish. Smaller ExtUSB to 3.5mm adapters are available for sale on the web. The smartphone supports Bluetooth stereo via the A2DP profile, and audio quality was full and loud with the Motorola S9 HD Bluetooth stereo headset.
The Dash 3G's 2 megapixel, fixed-focus camera isn't going to light a smile on a serious shutterbug's face. There's no flash and no self-portrait mirror, but there are a decent array of camera settings. The images are colorful and reasonably sharp for a camera phone of this class, but they aren't up to printing or featuring on your web page at anything other than small sizes.
We really like what the Dash 3G has to offer. It's got a great QWERTY keyboard, plenty of features, a good GPS, 3G and good battery life. The price is a little high though when Verizon and Sprint are offering their versions for less with a contract. The upside is that T-Mobile doesn't force you to subscribe to a data plan,so if you want to stick with WiFi and save the monthly 3G plan cost, you can. And once the Dash 3G comes down in price, there's little to complain about beyond the meager 2 megapixel camera.
Price: $169.99 with 2 year contract after new contract discounts
x 2.42 x 0.47 inches. Weight: 4.23 ounces.
Phone:Quad band GSM world phone with EDGE (850/900/1800/1900MHz) and 3G HSDPA on T-Mobile's 1700/2100MHz bands.
Camera:2.0 megapixel with fixed focus lens (no flash or self-portrait mirror).
in speaker, mic and HTC ExtUSB stereo headphone
jack. Voice Recorder and Windows Media Player 10 Mobile included for your MP3 pleasure.
WiFi 802.11b/g and Bluetooth 2.0 +EDR.
Mobile 6.1 Standard Edition (Smartphone edition).
SDHC microSD card slot under back cover at the bottom edge.
In the Box:Phone, battery, printed guide, software CD, world charger, USB cable, stereo earbud headset, dongle adapter that allows you to charge the phone while using a headset (also has 2.5mm and 3.5mm headset ports).