I’m the new writer here and I was picked to review the new T-Mobile mobile phone – the Shadow.
This phone was created by HTC (High Tech Computer) as the Juno, but to-date only T-Mobile are carrying this new technology. Why did I pick this phone? Well, I have been looking for a phone that is the ‘next level’ from the MOTOROKR E6 and Samsung U600 that I previously owned. The main thing that was missing from these was wi-fi connectivity. Although T-Mobile markets the Shadow as ‘The phone of fun’ – it’s really a powerful Microsoft Windows Mobile 6 powered smartphone with an all-new and easy-to-use interface.
Read on to learn the full story!
Look and Feel
Quality Looking at the phone it looks like a cheaper kind of plastic, but once you get it into your hands you definitely feel the difference. One of the main selling points for me was the front and back. The Front because the screen although plastic is easy to clean off my smudges from the old face. The Back because it has a rubber-like texture on it, which is great for laying on tables or a bed stand where it wont vibrate off.
Colors In looking at this phone, there were two obvious choices, the ‘green’ and the brown. Owning a Brown Zune in the past I wasn?t wary of the brown, but Green really was my fave color. I ended up getting the Brown because it almost looked black and its more of a metallic brown which makes it look like the lacquered wood in some vehicles (faux or not)
Weight Coming from the E6 and the U600 it is significantly heavier. But still it seems lighter than my 80Gig iPod Classic, so the weight was ok. in my pocket it felt alot more natural than the E6 did.
Slider The slider has a really good mechanism. It wont accidentally slide open in your pocket and it definitely wont cause any grief when you try to open it. As the entire top part slides you don?t have to ‘push the screen’
Keyboard I used to own a BB Pearl and it took me a while to get used to sure type. But going back to it was definitely worth it. I have read some folks don?t like the sure type but mostly that is all preferences.
Scroll Wheel OK so it isn’t an iPod! Glad to know! The scroll wheel does what it is supposed to do. Scroll you thru the menus. It can get a little confusing sometimes because some screens are up and down push and others are scroll to advance. It does take some getting used to.
Menu Structure It comes with a new ‘Neo’ interface. Which works pretty well. It does give you access to all the stuff you need without ever really having to go into the dreaded windows Menu. (I did wish there was a way to have the windows ‘key’ not show up on the interface) You basically have three choices for menus. The Neo (T-Mobile option), a WM6 option, a standard Windows Mobile option. Out of all of them the ‘Neo’ (by the way I think that’s what it is called from what I read online) seems to be the best one. And if you are getting the Shadow the Neo and the Brown ‘go together’ color-wise and overall in looks.
USB Headphone adapter I haven’t really broken this out yet, as I use the Motorola S6 stereo headset. If I ever crack open the package ill amend this…
Case Still haven?t opened the case yet, but it seems to be a simple case, slide the phone inn and your set!
Call Quality I read online that many people are having call quality issues. (I took the plastic screen protector off) and so far people can hear me, at first the sound was very low in the earpiece (but then I took the screen protector off) and it greatly improved. I also didn’t have any problems hearing the person on the other line. (made me think wither this device was a phone first , then PDA, or a PDA with Phone capabilities). The speaker phone is great. my car is extremely noisy and it works without any problems, clear loud and most of all they can hear me!
Incoming Calls The thing I liked about my U600 was the large screen caller ID, and what I love about the shadow is the same thing. it isn’t as big as the U600 but it is roughly a full screen with the caller info (which you can have read aloud to you in one of the voice settings) with a 1/2’x1/2′ image of the caller (or whatever you have assigned in the details of the contact.
Outgoing There are two ways (well more than two) to make an outgoing call on the Shadow. The first and easiest is to just start typing either the number or the name of the person then select the contact you wish to call, the second is to go thru the contact list and hit call when you see the one you need. There are other ways, such as hitting call when you read a MMS/SMS from that person, voice-dialing, email dialing, and then there is ‘while surfing the web, a number is listed -dialing’.
E-mail (total internet $20.00 plan) Yep after being on t-zones forever and using the gateway to get all my emails I decided to give total Internet a try. I currently have my email setup (which was easy as pie due to the email setup wizard) for Mac, Outlook (via active sync), Cox.net and yahoo! Every time I get a message (using the ‘Neo’ interface it shows me a alert (indicating from/subject/account)
Calendar I use my calendar (Outlook and iCal) religiously. Currently there is only one calendar (so you can only use one, not have multiple. The interface is very well put together, and my alarms and alerts show up when they are supposed to!
Address Book Syncing with Mac Address Book and Outlook is a cinch. Using Active sync on windows makes it all happen. The address information is very detailed. it even copied lengthy notes I have attached to each contact.
Missed Alerts On the main screen, using the Neo interface, aside from the phone+! icon near the top, the Envelope icon, and finally an envelope icon +cell icon (for MMS), you can tap down to the phone+bubble icon (which will have a yellow background when an event is missed) and then scroll wheel thru all of the new/missed calls, messages, emails, etc. It is a really great feature. The screen (in that section) will show five lines of info. The first is an image of either a contact or an icon, the second is the type of event (New Outlook email, MMS Message, SMS Message, new ‘x’ email, Missed call)
MMS Sending pics is very easy. Having a camera phone you can send right from the camera, or select a file/image and it will automatically send it in the same format. When receiving an MMS it shows up full screen and plays smoothly. I have had in the past with the E6 to download the MMS message first then a new message would appear stating that an MMS was received. So direct pull is definitely worth it.
SMS Texting, on average I go thru 3000 text messages a month. When I switched to the E6 that drastically reduced due to the touch screen keyboard and me not having patience typing on it. On the U600 I enjoyed the phone pad but would have some issues with T9 as most people sometimes do. I do wish it was explained easier on getting to the t9/sure-type option in a message. As some fields only allow you ABC, abc, Abc and not T9, t9 etc etc.
Signal I have wireless 802.11g at home. So far it detects the network automatically and does what is needed to stay connected. You can set wi-fi to go off after ‘n’ time of no connection to save on battery, and you can also set wi-fi from the main screens. (a wi-fi antenna icon is visible on the header of the main screen).
VOIP One of the main reasons I got this phone was for the built in wi fi. I am a huge user of Skype and using Fring was what I needed. So far I only VOIP device to device (not to land or mobile) and it has been great. the call quality comes in clear, no video (but that would be hard to accomplish with the camera on the backside) Was it worth it.. YES! Just for the wi-fi. I did hear a rumor that t-mobile was stating that you got free hotspot (Starbucks etc) with the total internet package, but ill have to verify!
I am both a Mac and PC user.
PC Using active sync, as usual I had some slight problems with connectivity. I have not been able to connect via Bluetooth, but the area I am in @ work is bombarded with BT signals from various devices. USB has been sweet! It connects automatically and syncs it without issue. I do not have the exchange server set up, so it only syncs my work email thru direct USB connect.
Mac That was a little trickier! I downloaded Pocket Sync for Mac and the program has some shortcomings. I really wish they would just add WM sync capabilities to iSync. Off and on it will either start syncing and hang or just not sync at all. So far it has been hit and miss. I just saw this new program that I will be trying out.. more to come
Screensaver One of the nice things is the ability to have a photo slideshow occur when connected to the computer. This shows up on the Shadow?s screen and goes until the auto screen off kicks in!
Mac Like mentioned earlier, still haven’t had much luck with the Mac it wont recognize the 2GB card as anything as it does not work with OSX 10.5 (Leopard)
Music Yes I own an iPod. But sometimes you just don’t want to carry it. The Shadow does music too. the sound is great both from the speakers and thru my BT headset! (I haven’t tried the stock headset) The ‘cool’ feature is the ability in the ‘Neo’ home screen, to tap down to the WMP icon, and start music directly from that screen. (I believe you can also do this on the standard WM home screens). Also when a song is playing the album art (if available) is displayed along with the artist info. You can scroll wheel back and forth to go thru the music available and then center button press to play a different track. (there is a feature available to read each track before it plays, but so far it hasn’t been successful-at least I haven’t figured it out) You cal also have your library (music library) pull from either the storage card or the main menu. It syncs with Windows Media Player flawlessly as an external media device (if only iTunes afforded that luxury).
Internet As a user of Nokia’s full on HTML browser, then having to go to Opera (which isn’t that bad) I was wary of the built in ie browser. Turns out it is as good as the Nokia HTML Browser. Sometimes something just works and this does! The pages aren’t lightning fast but using EDGE you’re getting what you paid for!
Battery A lot of people have complained about battery life. Now its a PDA you’re going to use the heck out of it, and it is going to drain the battery. What most PDA users want is something that wont die on them, and this device is close to being one of those. Some key things are to use wi-fi only when needed, set your email retrieval to something greater than every five minutes, cause that also uses up battery power, and best to use the power manager and have the device do its ‘thing’ to also help you save battery life. It hasn’t run out of juice yet, as my shadow is plugged into my desk and usually syncing, but a weekend without a constant stream of current should fix that!
Camera Yes I went from a 3MPX Samsung with auto focus and flash(LED) to a 2MPX one shot one kill camera. not a good move, but still there are some good images, not great and the fact that there is no ‘flash’ is annoying, but I’m sure the other products in the ‘Shadow’ line will be better equipped. The delay time is longer than needed, but that can be fixed by turning off preview after shot. All of the settings and options are on screen and can be accessed with one of two presses.
Well, I mainly wanted this phone for the wi-fi for Fring and it has exceeded my needs. As for the PDA aspect of it. It is as similar to having the Blackberry. These days there are so many ways to get your emails and calendar appointments that any device will do, its just a matter of storage space and capabilities. MMS/SMS: Having them viewable on the home screen is extraordinary. Being able to just scroll down and read the first line or two of the message and choose to ignore or reply is worth it. The camera.. eh they should have either put in a 3mpx or added a flash to the 2mpx. Now for the important part.. the phone! Yes it dials and calls come in clearly. I live in San Diego and am on T-Mobile so signal is no issue, and call quality is superb.
Well that’s it! if anyone has any questions just post a comment! We would love to hear what other Shadow owners think!