Since the release of Windows Mobile 6, we've anxiously awaited the arrival of new supported devices. And though we've seen product announcements (such as the Motorola Q 9 and the HP iPaq 510 Voice Messenger) in the past, we finally have the first Windows Mobile 6 smart phone to ship in the United States: the T-Mobile Wing.
Replacing the T-Mobile MDA, the Wing's revamped design and new features of Windows Mobile 6 make it a smarter smart phone for mobile professionals. You get more e-mail functionality and better PIM and productivity tools. However, it disappoints a bit in the area of performance. The device isn't the best multitasker--it can sometimes slow to a crawl--and compared with the 3G-enabled Cingular 8525, Web browsing on the Wing seems downright pokey with EDGE speeds. Still, for T-Mobile customers, the Wing is an attractive option for business users looking for a full-featured device to help them be more productive on the road. However, if you're not locked down to a carrier, you might want to check out the faster Cingular 8525, which is due for a Windows Mobile 6 upgrade later this year. The T-Mobile Wing will be available starting May 22 for $299.99 with a two-year contract.
When comparing the T-Mobile Wing and the T-Mobile MDA, you'll immediately note the big changes. Both smart phones feature a slider design, but the Wing trades in the business-suited silver casing of the MDA for a more casual midnight blue. Color is becoming a popular way for phone manufacturers and carriers to market devices to a broader audience, and the blue hue could broaden the Wing's appeal beyond business users to a younger crowd of gadget hounds and messaging fanatics. That said, from a woman's point of view, I think the color is pretty masculine and would almost prefer the old silver color or all black.
Aside from its look, the T-Mobile Wing has a different feel. The Wing now features a rubbery, soft-touch finish like the T-Mobile Dash, which makes it easier to grip and hold on to as you're using it. The device measures 2.3 inches wide by 4.3 inches high by 0.7 inch deep, so it's actually slightly thinner than the MDA (2.3 inches by 4.3 inches by 0.9 inch). However, at 6 ounces, the Wing is heavier than its predecessor, and the difference is quite noticeable. While the smart phone has a solid construction, the extra bulk can make it uncomfortable to hold during long conversations (though you can use a Bluetooth headset to alleviate that problem), and you'll probably want to use the included belt holster to carry the device, as its bulk makes for a very tight fit in a pants pocket.
Located on the front cover of the slider phone, the Wing's touch screen is a tad smaller than the MDA's, with a 2.8-inch (diagonal) display, compared to the MDA's 2.9 inches. But it 's still bright and sharp with a 65,000-color output and a 240x320 pixel resolution. We had no problems reading our e-mails and documents or with viewing pictures and Web sites. We did, however, have trouble seeing the screen outdoors under direct sunlight, which makes the display wash out. You can customize the Home screen with different themes, background pictures, and which items appear on the start-up page.
In addition to the touch screen, you can operate the Wing using its various navigation controls. HTC has rearranged the layout and added a couple of extra buttons not found on the MDA. Below the display, there are two soft keys, the Talk and End buttons, a new shortcut to the Start menu, an OK button, and a four-way navigation toggle with a central Select key. On the right spine, there are quick-launch keys for the voice recorder and Messages, while there's a camera-activation button, a slider volume control, and a microSD expansion slot on the left side. For the most part, the layout of these buttons is spacious, and they're easy to press. You can also reprogram any of the keys to launch different applications, by going to Settings and selecting Buttons.
To access the full QWERTY keyboard, just slide the front face of the smart phone to the left and turn it on its side. The spring-loaded mechanism glides the cover smoothly into place and it locks with a satisfying click. The screen also automatically switches from portrait to landscape mode, although typically there were a couple seconds of delay, sometimes longer if we had numerous apps open, which got to be annoying.
The Wing's QWERTY keyboard also got a makeover as the buttons are now square (rather than the MDA's oval-like ones) with no spacing between the keys--very similar to the keyboard found on the Cingular 8525. While the individual buttons are large and tactile, we missed that extra room and actually found it easier to type messages on the RIM BlackBerry Curve, which had smaller buttons but more key spacing. Numbers and symbols share space with the letter keys, which you can use by pressing the Alt button. Also, there are two soft keys and two small LEDs at the top of the keyboard that illuminate blue to confirm the Caps or Alt functions. There is adequate backlight for typing in dark environments.
Finally, there's a camera lens and a self-portrait mirror on the back of the device, a power button on top, and a mini USB/headset port on the bottom. The T-Mobile Wing comes packaged with a travel charger, a USB cable, a belt holster, a stereo headset, an audio/charging cable, and reference material. For more add-ons and tips, please check out our cell phone ringtones, accessories, and help page.
Clearly, the biggest news here is that the T-Mobile Wing runs the latest Windows Mobile 6 operating system, more specifically Windows Mobile 6 Professional Edition (formerly Pocket PC Phone Edition), which brings a number of small but notable improvements that make the Wing a smarter and more useful device for mobile professionals. Starting with basic PIM functions, the new Calendar ribbon gives a better view of your schedule at a glance. For example, in Week display mode, not only does it give you a good overview of your schedule, complete with colored blocks for appointments, but you also get details of the event, such as meeting location, right along the bottom of your screen so you don't have to open each one. If your company has upgraded to Exchange Server 2007, you can even forward and reply to meeting requests right from the smart phones.