The T-Mobile Wing is a Pocket PC phone with Wi-Fi and a slide-out keyboard. This is a high-end device loaded with features designed to appeal to business users.
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It is one of the first models released with Windows Mobile 6 Professional.
Look and Feel
The Wing uses a form factor that’s grown quite popular. Like a number of other high-end models, it includes a QWERTY keyboard with a landscape orientation that can be hidden behind its display.
It’s not surprising that this device has the same shape as a number of current models, including the HTC Mogul; Like them, the Wing was designed by HTC.
This smartphone is the exact opposite of another HTC device I reviewed recently, the Touch. That device uses a minimalist design with very few buttons. The Wing, on the other hand, has almost more than I can count. This makes it easy to set up buttons to launch your favorite applications, which can be a great time saver.
And, of course, the built-in keyboard makes test entry a breeze. You won’t be able to type on this as quickly as you would on a regular size keyboard, but it is much faster than picking out letters on the screen or using something like T9.
The fact that there’s no separation between the keys took a bit of getting used to, but I eventually got comfortable with it.
However, there’s a price to pay for all this convenience. This model is 4.3 inches tall, 2.3 inches wide, and 0.7 inches thick. It weighs 6.0 ounces. That puts it on the high end of smartphones, and the Wing dwarfs ultra-slim models like the Motorola RAZR.
But the large size gives room for the keyboard and a relatively generous screen: 2.8 inches. This has a QVGA resolution.
One of the nice parts of this model is its external microSD card slot, making it easy to switch out cards. This is covered with a rubberized door, so the odds of a card being accidentally ejected and lost are very low.
The mini-USB port is also covered by a door. A separate cover isn’t needed for the headphone jack, because headsets also plug into the mini-USB port.
The blue coating exterior is another nice touch (sorry, I couldn’t resist the pun). The color makes the device look professional but not too business-y, while the slightly soft texture makes it feel more comfortably in your hand.
One of the few design flaws in the Wing is the location of its stylus slot. It’s located on the bottom of the device, or on the left side when this device is held horizontally. Either way, it’s on the wrong side for most people.
Windows Mobile 6 Professional
The Wing was the first smartphone released in the U.S. running Windows Mobile 6 Professional, as latest version of Microsoft’s operating system for handhelds and smartphones was only introduced this spring.
Naturally, this comes with a suite of productivity software, including a version of Internet Explorer, Microsoft Office Mobile, and an email application with support for Microsoft’s push email system.
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Microsoft has been steadily improving these applications over the years, and while the latest versions of these aren’t hugely improved over their predecessors, I like the changes that have been made.
And keep in mind, Windows Mobile isn’t just about business. The Wing also includes Windows Media Player 10 Mobile for audio and video.
The Wing is a quad-band GSM phone with GPRS and EDGE. It doesn’t offer 3G cellular-wireless networking, but then neither does T-Mobile USA.
This smartphone does, however, includes Wi-Fi. This gives you a much quicker data-transfer speed, but, of course, you have to be within range of a Wi-Fi access point. Speaking of which, you have the option of using T-Mobile’s network of access points, located in bookstores and coffee shops around the country.
It also includes Bluetooth, allowing you to wirelessly connect this phone to a variety of peripherals, most notably headsets.
T-Mobile has bundled the Wing with an application called Voice Command that was developed by Microsoft. It allows you to control common functions of your smartphone such as the Windows Media Player and the program launcher with simple spoken commands.
This means that you can dial someone in your address book by saying "Call Bob Smith," or request that a certain phone number be dialed by saying "Dial 205-555-1234"
I love Voice Command, and I welcome its inclusion in this device.
I have no complaints about the the Wing’s battery life. In my testing, with light use it lasted for 5 days on a single charge. During this time, in addition to other uses, it was set to periodically check for new emails, which is typically hard on the battery.
That said, the biggest drawback of including Wi-Fi in a smartphone is the heavy drain it puts on the battery. You can easy drain the Wing’s battery in a few hours of heavy Wi-Fi use.
A camera is almost a requirement in a smartphone these days, and the Wing is no exception. What does make it exceptional is the quality of the camera.
As it’s a 2.0 megapixel one, it is noticeably better than what you find in your average smartphone, and vastly better than the 0.3 MP camera in a typical "dumb" phone.
But I’ll let you judge for yourself. Here are a couple of pictures I shot, both at maximum resolution:
Phone vs. Handheld Computer
The design of the T-Mobile Wing makes it a better wireless handheld than a phone. Don’t get me wrong, it can certainly be used as a phone, but it’s clear this isn’t intended to be the primary function of this model.
I don’t consider this a drawback. The inclusion of a relatively big keyboard and screen makes this smartphone ideal for people who frequently exchange lots of emails or text messages, but at the same time this pushes the device’s bulk — and price — up considerably.
What it comes down to is if you’re not expecting to do a lot of text entry with your phone, then take a look at some of T-Mobile’s other options.