Kyocera has manufactured some history-making Palm phones, and its latest, the 7135, is the company's first color-screened hybrid with a flip-phone design. Kyocera has taken a slightly different approach from that of Handspring, the makers of the Treo 300. The 7135 is a phone first and a wireless PDA second; instead of a built-in minikeyboard, you'll find a standard dial pad, which some users may prefer. The 7135 also boasts an expansion slot for adding memory; a bright, 65,000-color screen; and a built-in MP3 player. That's all good, but some users may find the unit a tad bulky compared to the somewhat more compact Treo 300, which sports a QWERTY keyboard, and the Samsung SPH-i330.
|The 7135 is smaller than many PDAs but larger than most phones.||Viewed from the side, it is rather bulky.|
Unlike Kyocera's earlier candy bar-style 6035--a monochrome, Palm-OS-based smart phone--the new model is a true flip phone, albeit a somewhat large one at 6.6 ounces and 3.97 by 2.43 by 1.17 inches. You can tote the device on your waist via the included belt clip, but the 7135 can fit in a pants pocket if your trousers are loose. Even when you're wearing the phone on your hip, a screen on its top displays caller ID, the signal strength, wireless mode, the time, and the battery status.
Though the 7135 is a full-featured PDA, as noted, it has a phone-first design, incorporating a keypad--rather than a thumb keyboard like that of the Treo--in its base. If you prefer to use a QWERTY keypad to input data, the Treo 300 may be a better fit. Above the keys, you'll find Palm-like buttons to launch the calendar, your contacts, your messages, and the WAP browser; there's also a rocker key with an OK button in the middle. A standard Palm/Graffiti silk screen sits above those controls and handles your writing needs. Dedicated buttons for the speakerphone and the backlight round out the design.
|Phone first: The Kyocera's keypad is geared toward its phone abilities.||The cradle includes a slot for a spare battery and has both serial and USB connectors.|
While many current Palm phones restrict you to the 8MB or 16MB of internal RAM, the 7135 lets you augment its 16MB via the Secure Digital (SD)/MultiMedia Memory (MMC) card slot on its lower-right side. However, the phone doesn't come with any extra media, and the slot lacks SD I/O capability, so add-in peripherals are off-limits.
A heavy but low-profile cradle ships with the unit for HotSyncing or powering up, and it can connect to PCs via a serial or USB port. For the power-hungry, the cradle has a slot to charge a spare battery. Also, the Kyocera's lightweight, foldable AC adapter can plug into the cradle or the 7135. The Kyocera runs Palm OS 4.1 and is powered by a 33MHz DragonBall VZ processor and 16MB of RAM. This is sufficient for holding calendar and contact info, as well as a few applications, but you can add more storage with the aforementioned SD/MMC slot.
|Caller ID: Screen your calls using the Kyocera's second display.||Wild card: The unit trumps other smart phones by including an SD/MMC slot.|
As a phone, the 7135 has the standard features and a few extras. The Kyocera adds a speakerphone and voice-activated dialing to staples such as speed dial and one-tap dialing from the address book. You may send faxes, and you can even schedule a date and time to send an SMS--great for calling in sick to work. Also, the 7135 is GPS/e911-ready and will support that functionality when it becomes available.
We do have a few quibbles, however. In phone mode, the touch screen is deactivated, and you can navigate via only the rockerlike OK buttons. This issue is minor--and you can still access the 7135's Palm functions while on the phone by hitting the phone icon--but tap-happy PDA users will find this extra step frustrating. Also, a slight delay between when a phone key is pressed and when it appears on the screen makes for slow dialing.
For ISP and POP3 e-mail, there's Eudora for the Palm OS. Eudora will display text or HTML and can identify attachments. This app also includes some extended features such as the ability to sort and filter messages.
You may listen to MP3s with the 7135, but you must furnish your own headphones.
The Kyocera's bright display serves up 65,000 colors.
While this model's screen isn't state of the art, the 65,000-color display is one of the best available on a Palm-based smart phone. Viewed side by side with Handspring's Treo 270 and Samsung's SPH-i330, the Kyocera's 160x160-pixel screen was the brightest of the three.
Browsing the wireless Web on the 7135 had a few downs but a surprising number of ups. Graphics-laden pages loaded slowly and were hard to navigate, but lighter pages rendered faster. Using the text-only EudoraWeb, we noticed that pages popped up with alacrity--at least for a phone.
Making and receiving calls with the Kyocera went without a hitch; reception in San Francisco and New York was good. The sound was typically distortion-free and loud enough to hear. We even drove through a San Francisco tunnel that cut out FM-radio signals without dropping the call.
The Kyocera's battery mostly lived up to its rated times in our performance tests. The phone lasted 3 hours, 12 minutes in our talk-time test, slightly short of its rated 3 hours, 30 minutes. But the 7130 did outtalk the Samsung i330 by 12 minutes, although the i330 comes with two batteries, and we used its lower-capacity one. The 7135 met it rated standby time of 120 hours.