Cingular 2125 (HTC Faraday) Thoughts


Today's "official" launch of the Cingular 2125 Windows Mobile smart phone reminded me that I hadn't posted my thoughts about this device. I got a chance to play with it about a month ago in the Cingular store and was pretty impressed. I hadn't heard about this phone before I found it in the back corner of the store and I was completely surprised. The specs are great, the screen is gorgeous, it was one of the only two megapixel phones for sale at the time. I was pretty close to buying it, but decided to hold off for now because I'm pretty happy with my current phones. But let me say though that if I was just some guy looking for a decent phone, this would be way up there in terms of options.

Putting aside the OS for a second - the hardware specs of the phone are great, and the price for a 2 year contract was a full $100 cheaper than the Nokia 6682, which is really the only other mobile close to it. Really, this phone has just about everything I would put on my wish list: Quad-band GSM with EDGE, 64MB of RAM, QVGA Screen, Stereo Headset Jack, mini-USB charge/sync connector, 200Mhz TI Processor, 1.3 megapixel Camera, Bluetooth, MiniSD memory, and it weighs only 116g. It's really the evolution of standard options for mobile phones - I hope more manufacturers take their cue from these specs- I'm sick of incompatible memory cards, screens and cables.

Now, when you include the OS, the phone gets even more interesting. It includes Microsoft's latest version of Windows Mobile OS, which I guess you can say "Now Sucks Less! (TM)", and it also includes a variety of options pre-installed such as Java, MSN Messenger, Internet Explorer, Pocket Office and Email with optional Goodlink service. And because it's Microsoft, it means I could download subscription based music files (like from Yahoo! Music) to the phone as well. There's a lot there to like (if you don't mind the generally user-hostile OS it's running on).

I should really keep up with what Microsoft is doing in the mobile space, because as this phone shows, they are really keeping the pressure up in terms of constant improvements to their handsets. I still think they're a year or so away from reaching the tipping point where a normal person would walk into a Cingular shop and choose this phone over, say, a Sony Ericsson w600i Walkman phone sitting next to it for the same price (even though the 2125 is the obviously superior handset in terms of specs), but they're getting close. The phone is small, functional and powerful and with the rebate, relatively inexpensive. To me the pressure is really on for companies like Nokia to keep their place in the smartphone world, otherwise they're going to lose it.

Personally, I'm using the Sony Ericsson W800i Walkman phone right now and am quite happy with it (I swap between that and the Moto V3 RAZR and the Nokia 6680). I think my next phone will most likely be the Nokia N80, which though a little heavier than the 2125, will have the mini-SD card, and USB mass storage options I think are so important, as well as a great screen, 3 megapixel camera and built-in 3G and WiFi connectivity. Plus it looks like my all-time favorite phone the Nokia 7650. :-) Yes, it's not fair to compare a phone that's in the shops right now with one that may not appear on the shelves for another 6 months or more, but that's really the decision. I'm not buying a Nokia 6682 right now either, as there's not enough incentive for me over my current phones.

But honestly, the N80 and its generation will be one of Nokia's last chances to get it right when it comes to smart phones, and their integration with PCs. If it doesn't sync, and doesn't work seamlessly with my network, then the next rev of Microsoft's phones - including the Treos - are going to start to make a dent in Nokia's smart phone lead. One could make the argument that up until now, people with smart phones didn't really use them as such - they were just more powerful mobile phones, and whether the user took advantage of that power or not is debatable. However, from 2006 on, that power is going to matter, as well as integration with non-cellular networks and devices. Microsoft's OSes cuts across devices - from Personal Media Centers to PDAs to Smart Phones to PCs, Game Consoles and Set Top Boxes - so they naturally have an advantage here. With devices like the HTC Faraday and Tornado floating out there, it seems that Microsoft is poised to use their advantage if their competitors make a misstep.

Should be interesting to watch... :-)


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