I've been going through phones like nobody's business lately, but finally landed with one that I have the feeling is going to be in my pocket for a while. Up until last June, I've had exactly three mobile phones in 6 years. Since June, I've had four. Anticipating the move from Madison to Milwaukee, I dumped by LG 5350 from Sprint in favor of a shiny new Samsung SPH-i600 from Verizon. As previously documented, I had major signal problems around my house in Brookfield and around the office in Pewaukee. To their credit, Verizon still provides the best customer experience I’ve had from a mobile carrier. They let me cancel my contract and waived the early termination fee for both phones. I then moved to a Sony Ericssen T637 from AT&T Wireless. Form factor-wise – the phone was great, plus with Bluetooth I could dust off my iPaq H1945 and actually still have email on the go, albeit in a two body solution. Then I caught wind of the impending launch of a new phone from AT&T.
So what’s the new phone? Why the new Audiovox SMT5600 that everyone is talking about. I was still within my 30day return windows, so I exchanged the T637 and have been in love since. First off, held side-by-side, the 5600 is only marginally larger than the T637; we’re talking fractions of an inch (or mere millimeters for those metrically inclined). Plus this phone has the latest build of the Windows Mobile OS. Having been involved quite a bit with mobility evangelism early on in my career at Microsoft, it is amazing to see how far we’ve come. In my opinion, this phone gets it right. The i600 was nice, especially after the WM2003 upgrade, but it still had its quirks. Mine would lock up while on a call for a long period and on AC power (the call wouldn’t drop, but I couldn’t hang up). The price isn’t bad either – even at full retail which as of this time is $249, its cheaper than the i600 from Verizon (or Sprint which recently started offering the phone). The retail store I picked up the store at (the Brookfield store on Bluemound – talked to Mason if you go there – he seems to know his stuff) was selling it at $199 with a two year agreement. Plus AT&T has great corporate discounts, so your price may be even cheaper if your company has an agreement with them.
How has the signal been? I get a full signal at my house now, and the phone is usable from the office. Driving around town has yielded no dead spots yet. The other bonus is AT&T’s current “GSM America” plan they are touting on TV – if there is a GSM signal anywhere in the US, you can use it and not pay roaming charges. If you’re considering a Smartphone, you owe it to yourself to check out the 5600.