T-Mobile Dash 3G review: T-Mobile Dash 3G

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The Good The T-Mobile Dash 3G brings some nice upgrades, including 3G support, GPS, and a 2-megapixel camera. The smartphone features a slick design with a nice, full QWERTY keyboard. Other highlights include Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and plenty of messaging options.

The Bad The Dash 3G does not include the Inner Circle feature or UMA support. The screen size is a bit small. Price is a little high compared with the competition.

The Bottom Line Long overdue, the T-Mobile Dash 3G is a worthy upgrade to its predecessor with the addition of such features as 3G support, GPS, and an updated design.

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7.7 Overall
  • Design 8
  • Features 8
  • Performance 7

The poor T-Mobile Dash has been pulling duty ever since October 2006 and while it's received a minor face-lift and Windows Mobile 6.1 upgrade over the years, it's definitely time for the smartphone to retire. More importantly, T-Mobile customers need and deserve something more up-to-date and it looks like the T-Mobile Dash 3G is set to deliver.

The Dash 3G is the carrier's version of the HTC Snap, which was introduced at CTIA 2009 and just recently launched on Sprint. It brings a number of welcome additions, such as GPS, a better camera, and 3G support--something that was missing from T-Mobile's other top messaging, the RIM BlackBerry Curve 8900. The design of the Dash 3G is also heaps better than the Sprint model, boasting a slimmer design, a soft-touch finish, and a roomier keyboard. However, we're slightly disappointed that the Inner Circle e-mail feature wasn't included on T-Mobile's model. Also, at $169.99 with a two-year contract, the price is a little high when you compare it with some of the competition, such as AT&T's Nokia E71x that goes for $100 and Verizon's upcoming version of the Snap, the HTC Ozone that will go for $50. Overall, though, it's a really nice upgrade for current Dash owners and any T-Mobile customers looking for a fast messaging smartphone. The T-Mobile Dash 3G will be available starting July 8.

Now this is the smartphone that we saw and admired at CTIA 2009. Unlike the slick, plasticky Sprint HTC Snap, the T-Mobile Dash 3G is a much more attractive device for a number of reasons. The soft-touch finish on the back makes the biggest difference in our opinion, giving the messaging smartphone a more sophisticated look and high-quality feel. The Sprint Snap just looks like a toy next to it. The Dash 3G is also slightly slimmer at 4.5 inches tall by 2.4 inches wide by 0.4 inch thick (compared with Sprint's version at 4.5 inches by 2.5 inches by 0.5 inch), and is comfortable to hold while on a phone call or typing messages. The handset will also easily slip into a pants pocket and won't weigh you down at 4.2 ounces.

We much prefer the T-Mobile Dash 3G's design over the Sprint HTC Snap.

The Dash 3G features the same 2.4-inch, 65,000-color QVGA (320x240 pixels) non-touch screen as the Sprint HTC Snap and its predecessor. While bright and easy to read, it falls short of the RIM BlackBerry Curve 8900's sharper display, which has a 480x320-pixel resolution. You can notice the difference in that photos and text look smoother on the Curve 8900, whereas you can see some of the pixels on Dash 3G. We also wish that the screen was slightly bigger to see more information at a glance. As is, there's a bit of scrolling involved to view long messages, Web pages, or simply to see all the different panels on the Home screen.

On the positive side, the T-Mobile Dash 3G comes with a trackball navigator, which allows for smoother scrolling and navigation compared with the traditional d-pad found on the Sprint Snap. Surrounding the trackball are the Talk and End buttons, two soft keys, a Home shortcut, and back button. The single-row layout of these controls is spacious and clean, blending in nicely with the rest of the phone's design.

The Dash 3G's QWERTY keyboard is easy to use with its large buttons and curved shape.

The T-Mobile Dash 3G's QWERTY keyboard is one of the better ones we've seen in this slate-style phone. A lot of the time there's a bit of a trade-off where the keyboard takes a hit to keep the phone sleek and slim, but HTC managed to fit in a decent-size keyboard while keeping a compact design. Even though there isn't much spacing between the keys, the buttons are large and have a slight curve to them so they're easy to press. They also feel sturdy and not quite as clicky as the BlackBerry Curve's. Finally, we like that the letters and numbers are easy to read thanks to its bold and red markings, and we always appreciate the shortcut keys on the bottom row.

Rounding out the smartphone is a volume rocker on the left side and a Mini-USB port on the right that serves as your power connector and headset jack. We wish the T-Mobile Dash 3G was equipped with a 3.5-millimeter headphone jack like the Curve but at least an audio adapter is included in the box. On back, you'll find the camera and the microSD expansion slot is located behind the battery cover.

The T-Mobile Dash 3G comes packaged with an AC adapter, a USB cable, a stereo headset, an audio adapter, a soft carrying case, a recycling envelope, a software CD, and reference material. For more add-ons, please check our cell phone accessories, ringtones, and home page.

The T-Mobile Dash 3G delivers satisfaction as the successor to the T-Mobile Dash, bringing a number of upgrades and new features. If the name didn't already give it away, the smartphone is 3G-capable, offering dual-band UMTS/HSDPA (AWS Band IV & Band I) support. T-Mobile's 3G network is currently available in 130 cities and offers download speeds of up to 1Mbps and an average data rate of 600Kbps with a peak of 1Mbps. While obviously still expanding (T-Mobile plans to expand to 100 additional cities by the end of 2009), it's good to finally see another 3G smartphone from the carrier. The only other 3G phones available are the T-Mobile Sidekick LX 2009, and that's not exactly the ideal choice for mobile professionals, and the T-Mobile G1.

In addition to 3G, the smartphone has integrated Wi-Fi, so you have an alternative if you're outside a coverage area or have access to a wireless network. Unfortunately, the Dash 3G does not offer UMA (unlicensed mobile access) support, so unlike the T-Mobile Shadow, you can't use the phone's integrated Wi-Fi to make and receive calls via wireless networks using T-Mobile's Unlimited HotSpot Calling service.

The T-Mobile Dash 3G offers quad-band world roaming, a speakerphone, voice-activated dialing, smart dialing, conference calling, speed dial, and text and multimedia messaging. The address book is limited only by the available memory (the SIM card holds an additional 250 contacts) with room in each entry for multiple phone numbers, e-mail addresses, work and home addresses, job title, and more. For caller ID purposes, you can assign each contact a photo, a group ID, or a custom ringtone.

Like most of the carrier's handsets, the Dash 3G supports T-Mobile's MyFaves service, giving you unlimited calls to five contacts, regardless of carrier. Individual plans for MyFaves start at $39.99 a month. You also get Bluetooth 2.0 with support for mono and stereo Bluetooth wireless headsets, hands-free kits, personal area networking, object push, audio/video remote, and more.

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