Verizon SMT5800 Smartphone Review

by Reads (37,803)

Verizon Wireless is offering the SMT5800, a Windows Mobile Standard smartphone with a QVGA screen and a numberpad on its front, in addition to a slide-out, landscape-oriented, QWERTY keyboard.

Verizon Wireless SMT5800

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It is able to access Verizon’s 3G cellular wireless network, and it includes a 2.0 megapixel camera and Bluetooth. It also has an internal microSD card slot with support for 8 GB cards.

The SMT5800 is a version of the HTC Libra, which is also sold under the Qwest Fusion and HTC 5800 names. The Libra is in turn a CDMA version of the HTC Vox, which the company sells unlocked as the S710. Got all that? No? That’s okay, you won’t really care.

All that out of the way, we move on to the good stuff.

Table of Contents

Design & Construction

The basic design is dead simple. In normal use, the SMT5800 is a candybar-style phone, with the standard Windows Mobile keys and numeric keypad. Turn it on its side, slide it open, and you’re greeted by a tiny QWERTY keyboard.

Verizon Wireless SMT5800

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Am I the only person who’d like to see a little more design effort out of HTC? The last several of its units that I’ve used suffer in comparison to competing hardware from Samsung and others, and the SMT5800 is no exception.

Starting with the keyboard, the keys themselves have a hard flat feel, which I find less than comfortable to type on. A good analogy would be dry paper, and that kind of texture isn’t conducive to long-term comfort. I’d hate to enter more than a bare minimum of text on the SMT5800’s keyboard. I much prefer the rubbery quality of the keys on my Cingular 3125 or the Samsung i760, or the hard smooth plastic of the Treos and BlackJacks.

The keyboard offers no directional controls on it. As a space saving exercise I could understand this, but for the fact that the direction of the slide places the regular D-pad up and to the left. I’m sure left-handed people will absolutely love the design. Me, not so much. It places too many controls in the sole purview of the left hand, and forces the user to keep returning to these controls to get anything done while using the slide-out keyboard. Using this design is questionable even on a device where you might reasonably assume that the right hand is going to be using a stylus — on a non-touchscreen device like the SMT5800, it’s just weird, as if they assume that you’ll only ever use the device with your left hand.

Lastly, the front button panel wastes a good deal of space on the brushed-metal bezel around the screen, space that could have been used to provide larger and easier to press controls. As it is, they’re lumped together into a sort of circular border around the number pad. I’d much rather have the buttons a bit better spaced, even if it sacrificed the organic lines that the current design has.

I don’t mean to make the SMT5800 sound like it’s all bad in the design department, it’s just that the mistakes stand out, and the few nice touches, like the easily accessible microSDHC slot, don’t make up for it. The design lacks the sort of simple and elegant usability that you can find in some other models. I’m sure I could get used to it, but with such diversity of designs out there, I’d rather have one that makes me want to use it.

Processor, Software, and Performance

TheSMT5800 is driven by the Qualcomm MSM7500 processor. This is the same chip that powers the HTC Mogul / XV6800 and the Touch, with the same high-end speed and built in features. While a lot of smartphones toddle about with 200 and 300 MHz processors, the SMT5800 has a full 400 MHz at its disposal, making it more attractive for streaming media.

Verizon Wireless SMT5800

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Some readers may also recall that the Verizon XV6800, which shipped with this same processor and chipset, has a built-in internal GPS receiver, and the HTC Touch is reputed to possess this as well. They may also be wondering if it’s possible that at some point we’ll see an internal GPS receiver added to the SMT5800 via software upgrade. Short answer: there’s a small chance, but it’s a very small chance. There’s been no indication that the SMT5800 has implemented the chipset’s support for GPS, and online scuttlebutt is that Verizon removed the GPS hardware along with the Wi-Fi. While the vague possibility exists of this being reactivated by a software patch at some point, I wouldn’t buy the SMT5800 on that assumption. 

One area this smartphoneisn’t lacking in built-in software. It’s got the standard Windows Mobile suite of applications, for Web browsing, exchanging email messages, working with Microsoft Office documents, and more.

That’s the good news, here’s the bad news. Out of the box, the default settings on the SMT5800 are annoying as all hell. It automatically turns off and locks the keys after 30 seconds of inactivity, forcing you to go through the process of unlocking the device every time you want to use it. Also, sliding out the keyboard triggers an even more elaborately annoying musical number from the device than the usual "ka-ding."

Verizon Wireless SMT5800

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Practically the first thing that I did upon unboxing the SMT5800 was to go through the settings, disable the annoying noise, and reset both the auto-lock and idle timeout options. I understand the need to customize a device to your preferences when you first get it, but the device defaults should be towards a minimum of frustration. If the user wants auto-lock after 30 seconds, let them select it, don’t foist it upon them and assume that they’re clever enough to hunt down the option that changes it.

One thing you can’t fix in the preferences: when in landscape, the softkeys next to the directional pad are disabled, forcing you to use the much smaller, less comfortable, and poorly lit softkeys nestled on top of the keyboard.

Battery Life

The 1050 mAh battery in the SMT5800 falls on the relatively low side for phones in general, but not too far off the average for smaller smartphones.

It’s rated for 3.5 hours of "talk time" — I’d say that this is probably about right for an average, though you might get anywhere from 2.5 to just over 4 hours depending on signal conditions. While not extraordinary, it’s serviceable.

Conclusion

 

It’s a useful enough little smartphone, but the SMT5800 doesn’t really have anything to set it apart from the pack. The keyboard is just okay, the design is less than stellar, and it doesn’t possess any of the features like GPS or Wi-Fi that would really draw attention to it.

Its main advantage is combining both a numeric keypad and a thumb keyboard, but if your heart isn’t set on the smaller size and weight, the Samsung i760 arguably does this better and with a more user-friendly design.

In the end, the SMT5800 suffers from a certain amount of "too little, too late." It’s not terrible, it just doesn’t do anything better than its competitors.

Pros:

  • Numeric pad and keyboard
  • Fast processor
  • EV-DO

Cons:

  • Questionable layout
  • Bad software setup
  • Combination USB/audio jack
  • Little memory

Bottom Line:

A functional basic smartphone, but not one that stands out of the pack.

Specifications:

Processor: 400 MHz Qualcomm MSM7500
Operating System: Windows Mobile 6 Standard (Smartphone)
Display: 2.4 inch, 240 x 320 LCD
Memory: 64 MB RAM; 128 MB flash (44 MB available)
Size and Weight: 4.1 inches long x 2.0 inches wide x 0.7 inches thick; 4.2 ounces
Expansion: Single microSDHC slot
Docking: HTC ExtUSB mini-USB/audio jack
Communication: CDMA/EV-DO; Bluetooth 2.0/EDR
Audio: Speaker; microphone; combination USB/audio jack
Battery: 1050 mAh Lithium Ion cell
Input: 12-button numeric keypad; QWERTY thumb keyboard

 


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