Microsoft Unleashes Bevy of Windows Mobile 6.5 Phones
With Windows Mobile 6.5 out Tuesday, it's now up to the wireless carriers and smartphone makers to bring out their best hardware for the occasion.
HTC is stepping up in the biggest way, with the HTC Pure, HTC Imagio, HTC Ozone, and HTC Tilt 2 arriving Tuesday or in the next couple of weeks. Samsung's also warming to WinMo with the Samsung Intrepid. As for carriers, all the majors except T-Mobile are on this bandwagon, so you'll have AT&T, Sprint and Verizon Wireless to choose from.
(See Related Review of HTC Pure: HTC Pure Smartphone: Nice Price, Skimpy Features)
If you believe that the operating system is the heart and soul of any smartphone, you're probably more interested in Windows Mobile 6.5 itself than the hardware it's on. Microsoft's mobile platform is decidedly less flashy than the iPhone or Palm's WebOS, but it'll get you through the work day with its eye towards productivity.
Sure, the reviews are pretty dismal so far, calling it a mostly cosmetic update that isn't worth an upgrade to a new phone, but we know some of you don't care what the critics say: It's WinMo or bust, and only the newest version will do.
For all those WinMo enthusiasts--we know you're out there somewhere--have some choices to make, should your current wireless contract be up for renewal soon. So here's our gallery of the five latest Windows Mobile 6.5 phones, looking all slick in their marketing photos. As with any phone, choose wisely, as you'll be stuck with it for two years.
(IMAGE: Ballmer speaks at a press conference during the 2009 Mobile World Congress. Compliments of Microsoft)
The HTC Imagio from Verizon Wireless
The HTC Imagio's aesthetics could go a long wayfor Verizon Wireless, which hasn't traditionally stocked the greatest-looking phones. But you'll stay for features like a 5-megapixel autofocus camera, GPS and a 3.6-inch WVGA touch screen. Not happy enough to fork out $200 after a $100 mail-in rebate? See the next slide, or wait to see what Verizon and Google come up with.
The HTC Pure from AT&T
Adhering to HTC's baffling habit of switching product names when launching a product, the HTC Pure was once known to tech watchers as the HTC Touch Diamond 2. Whatever you call it, it's a mildly-received but relatively inexpensive way to get Windows Mobile 6.5, at $150 with a two-year commitment. There's a 3.2-inch WVGA touch screen, a 5-megapixel camera and HTC's TouchFLO 3D interface, but a proprietary headphone jack instead of a standard 3.5mm output. At least it looks nice.
HTC Tilt 2
If the other three HTC phones didn't strike you, the Tilt 2 might, because of its familiarity. It's got the same hardware as the existing Touch Pro 2 (pictured), but with an eye towards business uses thanks to HTC's Straight Talk conference calling feature. You'll also get a 3.6-inch widescreen WVGA display, a slide-out QWERTY keyboard and a 3.2-megapixel camera. The phone should be available in a few weeks to anyone who's willing to pay $300 after a $50 mail-in rebate.
Sprint's sole Windows Mobile 6.5 phone has a 2.5-inch QVGA screen atop a full QWERTY keyboard, with a 3.2-megapixel camera. It's the first device to use Microsoft's TellMe feature, which uses voice recognition for phone dialing, text messages and Web searches. The damage is $150 after a $100 mail-in rebate when the phone arrives on October 8.
The HTC Ozone from Verizon Wireless
The lone offering with a QWERTY keypad right on the face, Verizon's HTC Ozone has a 2.4-inch touch screen and a 2-megapixel camera. For software, you'll get a bunch of pre-loaded tools, such as an MP3 splitter, visual voice mail and the usual Microsoft Office trimmings. Best of all is the price of $50, but you'll reportedly have to wait until November for the upgrade to Windows Mobile 6.5.