UTStarcom XV6800 (Verizon Wireless)
We can't say for sure why Verizon Wireless chose to wait till the very last minute to release all its smartphones, but we know customers are excited to finally see the availability of the Verizon Wireless XV6800. As the successor to the aging UTStarcom XV6700, the XV6800 brings a much-needed refresh with an upgrade to Windows Mobile 6 Professional Edition, a sleeker design, and a 2-megapixel camera. You also continue to get EV-DO, integrated Wi-Fi (802.11b/g), and Bluetooth 2.0 with support for stereo headsets and dial-up networking.
There's no doubt in our mind that this device will meet the needs of the power business user. The bigger question that customers may be faced with is whether you should get the XV6800 or the Samsung SCH-i760. Feature-wise, the two Windows smartphones are pretty even, though the XV6800 has a better camera. That said, we felt that the i760 had better call quality and faster performance to give it a slight edge, but you're going to get a solid smartphone with either choice, and it may just come down to your preference in design. The Verizon Wireless XV6800 is available now for $349.99 with a two-year contract and after rebates and discounts.
The Verizon Wireless XV6800 is reminiscent of the Sprint Mogul in shape and size, which makes sense, since both devices are made by HTC. The XV6800 measures 4.3 inches high by 2.3 inches wide by 0.7 inch deep and weighs 5.8 ounces. Although it's on the larger side and you'll probably want to get a belt holster since it'll make for a tight fit in the pants pocket, it sits nicely in the palm and is comfortable to use as a messaging device. We will say that the phone's construction didn't feel as solid as the i760. The XV6800 has the same battery cover as the Sprint Mogul, which we found quite plasticky and flimsy. As far as aesthetics, the XV6800 isn't the most attractive smartphone on the block but has an appropriately business look.
On the front, there's a 2.8-inch touch screen that shows 65,536 colors at a 320x240 pixel resolution. Images and text looked vibrant and sharp, and the screen was readable in various lighting conditions, although colors wash out slightly in bright sunlight. You can customize the Today screen with various themes and background images. Unlike the Samsung SCH-i760, there is no external dialpad, which was admittedly a convenience, but you can still easily make calls using the XV6800's responsive touch screen and spacious virtual dialpad.
Surrounding the display are the XV6800's navigation controls. Above the screen, there's a shortcut to your in-box and one to the Web, while below the display, you'll find two soft keys, Talk and End buttons, a Today screen shortcut, and OK button, and a four-way directional keypad with a center select key. We found all the controls to be large enough and tactile, but since they're spread out across the front of the phone, it doesn't make one-handed operation very easy. Fortunately, there are a number of other buttons along the sides to help with this. On the left spine, there is a scroll wheel, an OK button, a voice dialer launcher, and a switch to turn Wi-Fi on and off. The right side holds the power button, a Communication Manager shortcut, a camera activation key, and the stylus.
To access the full QWERTY keyboard, just slide the front cover to the left. The sliding action is fairly smooth, and the cover securely locks into place. This also automatically triggers the screen to switch from portrait to landscape mode. The keyboard itself is very similar to the one found on the Mogul and T-Mobile Wing. The individual buttons are large, but there isn't much space between them and they're a bit slick. Users with larger thumbs may also have problems hitting the two soft buttons located above the keyboard since they're close to the bottom edge of the front face.
Finally, you have an infrared port, a microSD expansion slot, and a mini USB port on the bottom, and the camera lens, a self-portrait mirror, and a flash on back of the unit.
The Verizon Wireless XV6800 comes packaged with a healthy set of accessories, including an AC adapter, a USB cable, a USB splitter, an extra stylus, a soft protective pouch, a desktop software CD, and reference material. For more add-ons, please check our cell phone accessories, ringtones, and help page.
Feature-wise, the Verizon Wireless XV6800 goes toe-to-toe with the Samsung SCH-i760. The smartphone runs Windows Mobile 6 Professional Edition with the full Microsoft Office Mobile Suite for viewing and editing Word, Excel, and PowerPoint documents. There's also Adobe Reader for PDFs, and you can always download more third-party applications to suit your needs. Other personal information management tools include the standard Calendar, Contacts, Task list, a notepad, and a Zip Manager. There's also a task-manager-type utility called Running Programs so you can optimize memory usage and the smartphone's performance. The XV6800 has 64MB RAM and 256MB ROM with about 27MB of free program memory and 157MB of available storage. The microSD expansion slot accepts up to 4GB cards.
As for messaging, the XV6800 ships with Microsoft Direct Push Technology so you get real-time e-mail delivery and automatic synchronization with your Outlook calendar, tasks, and contacts via Exchange Server. There's support for a number of other e-mail solutions, as well, including Good Mobile Messaging and Verizon Wireless Sync. In addition, the device can be configured to access your POP3 and IMAP4 accounts. Unfortunately, there aren't any preloaded instant messaging clients, and it lacks Windows Live integration like the i760.
Phone features on the Verizon Wireless XV6800 include a speakerphone, voice dialing and commands, smart dialing, three-way calling, and text and multimedia messaging. The phone book is limited only by the available memory, and each entry can hold as many as 12 phone numbers, three e-mail addresses, addresses for home and work, a job title, and more. For caller-ID purposes, you can assign a contact to a category or pair it with any of 24 polyphonic ringtones or a photo.
The XV6800 is also an EV-DO handset, bringing data speeds of around 300Kbps to 600Kbps with the potential to hit 2.4Mbps. This means you'll enjoy faster Web browsing, downloads, and smoother media streams. However, concentrating more on the smartphone's business side, Verizon Wireless chose not to include support for its V Cast music and video services. We can understand this logic, but still find it a bit disappointing--all work and no play isn't much fun.
Another way you can take advantage of the EV-DO speeds is by using the XV6800 as a modem for your laptop, thanks to smartphone's Bluetooth 2.0 technology. This will, however, require that you subscribe to one of Verizon's BroadbandAccess plans, which start at $15 per month. Other supported Bluetooth profiles include those for mono and stereo headsets and hands-free kits. Unfortunately, it does not allow for object transfer (OBEX). Last but not least, the XV6800 also has integrated Wi-Fi, which provides you an alternative method for connecting to the Web on your phone.
The one area where the Verizon Wireless XV6800 ups the Samsung i760 is the camera. The XV6800 is equipped with a 2-megapixel lens (versus 1.3 megapixels) with flash, autofocus, and video-recording capabilities. For still images, you have your choice of five resolutions and four quality settings. You can adjust the white balance and add various effects, and there's also a self-timer and the option of adding a time stamp to your photo. As usual, your options are a bit more limited in video mode but you do get white balance settings, effects, and two resolution choices. Picture quality was mixed. We were impressed by the sharp definition, but the colors were a bit off and looked harsh. Video quality was OK for a camera phone--slightly pixilated by fine for short spurts.
And while you may not get Verizon's streaming media services, you can still enjoy your tunes and videos with Windows Media Player 10 Mobile. There's support for AAC, MP3, WAV, WMA, MPEG-4, and WMV files, to name a few. Plus, if you have TV shows recorded on your Windows Media Center PC, you can transfer them to your device for on-the-go viewing.
We tested the dual-band (CDMA 850/1900; EV-DO) Verizon Wireless XV6800 in San Francisco using Verizon service, and call quality was OK. On our end, audio sounded slightly garbled, but volume was fine and we were able to continue conversations with our friends and interact with our bank's automated voice response system. Meanwhile, our friends didn't have any major complaints, though they could tell we were using a cell phone. Unfortunately, things went south when we activated the speakerphone. Sound was soft even when we were in a quiet room and had the volume at its highest level, while callers said there was a slight hollowness on their side. On a bright note, we had no problems pairing the XV6800 with the Logitech Mobile Traveller Bluetooth headset or the Motorola S9 Bluetooth Active Headphones.
The XV6800 is powered by a 400MHz processor and for the most part the smartphone was responsive, but we ran into some typical Windows Mobile delays (lags between screen switches and when using multiple applications). The Web-browsing experience was swift thanks to Verizon's EV-DO network, and the phone had no problems finding and connect to our Wi-Fi access point. Multimedia performance wasn't the greatest we've seen. Again, because of the weaker speaker, songs sounded quiet and lacked any richness and turning up the system volume only made tracks sound shrilly and blown out. Video was synchronized with audio, but looked a bit blurry and choppy.
The XV6800's 920mAh lithium-ion battery is rated for 5.4 hours of talk time and up to 14 days of standby time. We are still conducting our battery drain tests but will update this section as soon as we have final results. According to FCC radiation tests, the XV6800 has a digital SAR rating of 1.3 watts per kilogram.