HTC Cavalier S630 (unlocked) review: HTC Cavalier S630 (unlocked)

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The Good The HTC Cavalier S630 improves on its predecessor by adding 3G support, a faster processor, and a 2-megapixel camera. It comes out of the box with Windows Mobile 6, push e-mail, integrated Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth.

The Bad The new "Joggr" control is temperamental, and the Cavalier S630's QWERTY keyboard is smallish. Speakerphone quality also could be better. Also, we wish the camera included a flash.

The Bottom Line Though we're not particularly keen on the design changes, the HTC Cavalier S630, with 3G support and a more powerful processor, is a worthy upgrade to the T-Mobile Dash. Mobile professionals will be well-served by this smart phone.

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7.7 Overall
  • Design 7
  • Features 8
  • Performance 8

As many of you know, the world of technology is filled with frustrating waiting games. Companies will tease you by announcing a hot little product, but it can be months and months before a device actually comes to market. Take the HTC Cavalier S630, for example. The successor to the T-Mobile Dash already has passed FCC tests, but we're still waiting for an official carrier and availability announcement. Lucky for us, we were able to get the Windows Mobile 6 device through Mobile Planet, where you can purchase an unlocked version for about $565.

The Cavalier S630 includes a number of improvements over its predecessor, most notably the addition of 3G support and a more powerful processor. It also sports a revamped design, although we're not sure it's for the better. However, you're not going to be using a smart phone for its looks. The S630 delivers where it counts the most for mobile professionals--features and performance--making it a worthy upgrade to the Dash. As we noted earlier, there's still no official word on which U.S. carrier (T-Mobile or AT&T) will pick up the HTC Cavalier S630 or when, but we'll update you as soon as we find out.

On paper, the HTC Cavalier S630 shares the same dimensions as the T-Mobile Dash, measuring 4.4 inches tall by 2.5 inches wide by 0.5 inch thick and weighing 4.2 ounces. However, we couldn't help but think that the Cavalier appeared slightly thicker and less sleek than its predecessor. Personally, I prefer the rounded edges of the Dash to the boxier Cavalier, and I thought the former was more comfortable to hold and easier to grip. The HTC S630 has a soft-touch finish, but the smart phone is still a bit slick. Now, this isn't to say the Cavalier is a complete dud in the design department--not at all. (I think I'm still getting used to the changes, and of course, style is a personal preference.) It's still a compact smart phone with an attractive black and brushed silver chassis. If you're curious, the Cavalier is slightly wider and heavier than the Samsung BlackJack (4.4 inches tall by 2.3 inches wide by 0.6 inch thick and 3.5 ounces).

We're not the biggest fans of the HTC Cavalier's revamped design. Here it is next to the smaller, sexier RIM BlackBerry Curve.
We're not the biggest fans of the HTC Cavalier's revamped design. Here it is next to the smaller, sexier RIM BlackBerry Curve.

The Cavalier retains the same 2.4-inch diagonal, 65,536-color QVGA display found on the Dash. The non-touch screen has a 240x320-pixel resolution, so images and text look sharp and vibrant. The display is also still readable in various lighting conditions, including bright sunlight. Below the display, you'll find a slightly revamped navigation array. You still get two soft keys, Talk and End buttons, a Home screen shortcut, a back button, and a five-way navigation toggle with center Select key. The only noticeable change is that the soft keys are larger, while the Talk and End buttons are smaller. Overall, all controls are spacious and easy to use.

There are also some slight modifications to the full QWERTY keyboard. The number keys are now highlighted in green instead of all silver, and there's a bit more spacing between the buttons on the bottom row. Unfortunately, the buttons have kept their small, squarish shape with very little room between the keys. I have relatively small hands and thumbs and yet I still had trouble typing messages. It got easier after some time, but users with larger thumbs will definitely want to take the device for a test drive.

The Cavalier's full QWERTY keyboard isn't that much different from its predecessor's. The number keys are now highlighted in green, but buttons are still small.
The Cavalier's full QWERTY keyboard isn't that much different from its predecessor's. The number keys are now highlighted in green, but buttons are still small.

On the left spine, you'll find a power button, a microSD expansion slot, and a voice recorder activation key, where there's also a mini USB/headphone/power port (it's slightly odd to have the power connector on top of the device). The right side has a camera activation key (the lens and self-portrait mirror are located on back of the phone) and a new "Joggr" touch-sensitive strip. If you'll recall, the T-Mobile Dash had a volume touch strip that we weren't particularly fond of, and given its temperamental nature, we preferred to turn the function off completely. This time the "Joggr" strip not only adjusts the call volume, but also scrolls through menu items. In addition, there are two touch-sensitive buttons that let you back out of menus, or with a double click, open your Messages folder.

On the right side of the smart phone, you'll find a touch-sensitive
On the right side of the smart phone, you'll find a touch-sensitive "Joggr" strip that you can use for adjusting call volume and scrolling through items.

Once again, we weren't in love with this feature. First, the scroll/volume strip was too sensitive, as the slightest touch would trigger it into action--but we had the opposite problem with the other two touch-sensitive controls. Sometimes they were responsive, while other times we had to repeatedly hit the designated areas before the phone registered our actions. We often gave up in frustration, finding it easier to use the tactile buttons on front of the device. Also of note, the placement of the "Joggr" strip on the phone's right side makes it awkward for left-handed users. There is an option to completely disable the function under the Settings menu; here you can also adjust the scroll and double-click speeds, or even choose to have the strip control only the call volume or both the call volume and Windows Media Player.

The HTC Cavalier S630 comes packaged with a car charger, an AC adapter, a USB cable, a wired headset, a Getting Started CD, and reference material. We should note that the AC adapter included in our package had a European plug, so if you buy an unlocked version, you may need to get a converter or purchase a U.S. adapter. For more add-ons, please check our cell phones accessories, ring tones, and help page.

While the merits of the design changes are up for debate, we're betting most people won't argue with the upgrades underneath the hood. First, the HTC Cavalier S630 runs the latest Windows Mobile 6 Standard Edition right out of the box, so you get the full Microsoft Office Mobile Suite, Direct Push technology and HTML e-mail support, Windows Live integration, and an enhanced Calendar application. (You can learn more about the operating system in our Windows Mobile 6 review.) You also get your standard set of personal information management tools and utilities, such as Adobe Reader, a task manager, a voice recorder, a calculator, notes, and more.

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