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T-Mobile MDA Vario IV

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    1 Review
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      20.02.2009 18:46
      Very helpful


      • Reliability


      Good if you like phones that do everything... ever.

      I have been due for upgrade since September 2008, but only one phone had caught my eye; this was the HTC Touch Pro. I saw it back in June 2008 and noticed that it would be released in August, so I started searching to see if T Mobile would be taking it onto their network as that could work out perfectly timed for my upgrade if they did.

      I knew they usually rebranded HTC phones as T Mobile phones so I was hoping that they would do the same for this. I was pleased to find that T Mobile had taken on this phone and it would be rebranded as a Vario IV, to replace the (now) dated Vario III.

      I couldn't find any information regarding the date for this phone so I rang up head office and spoke to somebody in the customer service directors' office who said it would be released at the beginning of October; not quite as perfect for me as such but not too bad. I then started a blog about it as I'd noticed a lot of people in the same position as me and I thought it would be good to keep them updated on what I found out.

      To cut a long story short, T Mobile held the phone back for about 5 months before 'releasing' it, and even now it's still not on the website, or in T Mobile stores; only if you call the loyalty and retentions team and ask them to search for it. There was a lot of cloak and dagger behaviour regarding giving a definite date, and also a lot of changing of dates that I was being given by the helpful lady at head office.

      I've since found out that this is due to them wanting to shift as many of the previous model, the Vario III. This was not great service on T Mobiles part in my opinion, and it is one that has lost T Mobile quite a few customers from what I've noticed on my blog and other mobile forums as a lot of them cancelled their T Mobile contracts in favour of going to Vodafone who had the HTC Touch Pro available on their website at the beginning of September. I really can't blame them to be honest, and I almost did myself but I held on as I didn't know what Vodafone were like as a network; a case of 'better the devil you know' I think.

      I was so excited and couldn't wait to get hold of my phone, so when it arrived I opened it straight away and got stuck into finding my way around it. The phone comes in a pink outer box with photos of the phone, and of people using the phone. It then has an inner black box that sticks out of the outer box slightly and which very vaguely resembles the black HTC box that the original Touch Pro comes in. When you open the box, you find:

      * The handset itself
      * A Charger
      * Battery
      * A getting started manual
      * Headphones with a mini USB connection (no 3.5mm jack grrr)
      * USB lead to connect the phone to your PC.
      * A spare stylus
      * A CD with software you will need to sync phone with PC and more.
      * A flimsy case - a nice thought but would have been nice to be given a case that is of a decent quality rather than putting in something that will be replaced as soon as I find a decent case for it.
      * Clear screen protector - actually this is really good as I didn't get as many air bubbles with it as I've had with other types.
      * A little safety information booklet
      * 1 mobile recycling bag for any old phones you have (although I suggest going through a few sites from the money saving expert guide to recycling your old phone as you're more likely to get a better return for your phone)

      On first start up you are greeted by a white background and T Mobile written in pink. This then turns to a green windows mobile screen that asks you to 'tap the screen to set up your windows mobile-based device'.

      You then need to align the cursor for touch screen by tapping 5 points on the phone, those being the centre and 4 corners. You will see the cursor move so you know where to tap rather than having to guess. It will then ask you if you would like to put a password on the phone; I suggest that you do this as it's a mobile device so would be best for the safety of your data... just don't forget the password that you choose.

      After doing this it vibrates and a little tune plays, it flicks back to the green windows screen and then back to a pink and white screen, with a green progress bar whilst it installs *something* of which I have never been sure what it was!

      Setting up the phone was a breeze, my contacts were transferred from my pc with no effort at all; it was done in the whole synchronising process I think - which again was very easy and uncomplicated.

      Installing the active sync was easy and fuss free, the phone was instantly recognised once it had installed and been plugged in. The full phone manual is also able to be put onto your pc once you have the CD in the drive, which is a more environmentally friendly way of providing you with a manual, as lets face it, it's not like it gets used a lot after the first few days or so.

      The phone runs the Windows Mobile 6.1 operating system, which some people love and some people hate... I personally think that it is brilliant; and also because I also run Windows on my PC, I feel that the synchronisation between my phone and pc is as smooth as can be.

      Although the phone runs on Windows as mentioned, it does have another user interface over the top to give an experience that is slightly more like the Iphone seems to be. This is called TouchFlo 3D and whilst it's a bit slow and takes some getting used to seems to be worth persevering with. If you really don't like it, I believe it can be turned off so you're just able to use the normal windows 6 interface.

      On this operating system you are able to copy, cut and paste as you can on your normal pc or laptop. This is another thing that you wouldn't think was such an important feature but actually, you miss it if you've used it and then go to a phone that doesn't have it. It's invaluable to me.

      The phone is only available in black, but I have no problem with that as it looks stylish with its glossy appearance and I feel could be a bit gimmicky to have it in other colours. It's much smaller than I thought it would be, although still not one of the smallest phones available; but it's certainly no brick as it is very, very pretty and can be forgiven for the thickness of it especially due to it having a full slide-out QWERTY keyboard.

      This is something that you might not necessarily think would be such a useful addition to a phone, if you're already used to the usual text input methods on mobile phones; however once you have used it, you will wonder how you ever managed without it.

      It makes emailing, texting and writing notes etc a million times easier than it ever was and stops you being fully dependant on software keypads that have no resistance (thus making it harder to feel if you have *pressed* it) and can be quite hard to type on, or get used to if you're only familiar with phones that have hardware keys.

      Another couple of brilliant thing about this keyboard are that unlike other phones that have QWERTY keyboards, this has the proper shift, caps lock and ctrl buttons as opposed to hard to work out combinations or secret keys to push to get your secondary key functions and capital letters etc... PLUS it has a dedicated number row, which means you don't have to use shift or any obscure combination of keys just to type in a number.

      Unlike the G1, the slide function works in a straight manner which makes it very smooth and I feel it's much sturdier and thus less likely to break easily. The buttons on the keyboard light up well and evenly, they feel of good quality and are very easy to type on.

      The software keyboard on this phone is actually not too bad and I feel totally happy using both the hardware and the software keyboard at any given time.

      The stylus is quite a stylish one as its metal with a glossy black top to it, and unlike the Omnia I tried has somewhere for it to store rather than it hanging free and getting in the way. As the stylus is metal it is attracted to the slightly magnetic stylus compartment for it to be stored, which means it's put in very easily and doesn't fall out. This doesn't mean it's difficult to get out, quite the opposite as it has a little raised bit that helps with getting it out; it seems that a lot of thought has been put into this phone.

      The back is a silvery grey with a black rectangular (with rounded edges) area where the camera lens is... so they got rid of the touch pros black diamond like back. I'm not so fussed about them getting rid of the diamond effect but I would have much preferred a black back, to match the front of the phone. Removing the back wasn't too difficult and something that will probably get easier as you use the phone more too.

      The phone has an expandable memory slot that takes Micro SD cards of up to 16GB - I'm not sure if at any point it will take larger ones but if I find out I shall be sure to update this with the information I find. It is also hot swappable, which means you can take it out and put a new one in etc without having to turn the phone off. This saves a lot of messing about if you have more than one Micro SD, or use your Micro SD for more than one device.

      It includes GPS and Google maps software which is one of the features I liked on the overall rubbish G1 phone so this is very much a welcome addition to the handset. It's also very easy to use, and free which gets my vote, since Nokia charge for their maps service.

      Now, with previous versions of the Vario IV, MSN messenger is usually included, but this does not appear to be the case with this one... and was also the case with the Samsung Omnia that runs the same operating system. This can be downloaded from the internet if it's important to you, or I believe Microsoft do an 'online' version from what I can gather, which could be why it's not now included with windows based mobiles.

      The browser it uses appears to be opera and is brilliant as it allows for up to 3 tabs open for different web pages. Since using Firefox many years ago, I've always been a big fan of tabbed browsing and to see this included on a mobile is brilliant. Again it's not something that you'd think would make such a big impact, but to me it really does.

      The touch screen is really quite responsive; I was so pleased to find this was the case after the horrendous screen on the G1, I'm not sure if it's because a better screen was used, or if it's because the software is more advanced within the touch screen phone industry due to having been around longer, either way I only care that it does the job it's meant to.

      Another important factor on this phone, and I can't believe it's taken me so long to mention is the quality of the handset for making calls. The calls I have made on it have been crystal clear and I am over the moon that there doesn't appear to be any problems with interference or other noise when listening to somebody talking and also I sound clear to the other person (yes I asked them haha).

      The bottom of the phone is very sleek and is touch sensitive with 4 more tactile buttons too. The tactile buttons include call, hang up, home and back buttons; apparently these can be configured for other uses but I am keeping them as they are; for the time being at least.

      The phone has many features and I think would take so long to write about each and every one that it would make for an even longer review (if that's even possible considering how much I have already written) but I have listed a few things below that I like and also a few that I'm not so fond of.

      Some of the other things I like about this phone that are worth a mention are:

      * The VGA resolution - This means it has a crystal clear display and beats any phone out now (including the IPhone 3G, which is HVGA.. the H standing for HALF) hands down. I thought the N95 had an amazing display from the moment I got it, until I saw this little beauty.

      * HSPA/HSDPA Internet - High-Speed (Downlink) Packet Access is basically a 3G internet technology which allows users to browse the web at 'broadband speeds' of up to 7.2 Mb/s which is brilliant if you get annoyed when using internet on your phone at dial up speeds after being used to broadband on your home computer. This is generally network dependant, but luckily T Mobile do have HSDPA enabled on their network, and also is included as standard on their normal web and walk plans.

      * Handwriting recognition, I find this is perfect for when you're writing notes in the notepad on this phone as it's just like writing yourself a little note, and takes much less time than it would take to type out in my opinion. It also means you can send an email and sign your name at the bottom... a nice little touch.

      A couple of things I'm not so keen on, although don't cause any huge issues are:

      * The Camera - At only 3.2mp, this camera isn't one of the best on the mobile market, it's not too bad but if you're used to using a decent camera, or camera phone then you may be disappointed with this. It's for this reason I bought myself a new compact point and shoot camera as I didn't want to be left with only a mediocre camera to capture all the precious moments that happen in life.

      * The rebranded white and pink colour scheme that T Mobile have put on, thus getting rid of the lovely, sleek black and white scheme that the Touch Pro has. I wouldn't have minded if they'd made it black with pink but the white with the pink on is just a bit overpowering for me, and also probably not as suited to any men who want this phone!! I am sure there's *something* that will be available for it soon to cover it up? I will search and if I find anything, I will report back.

      The headphones are as mentioned, a mini USB connection - this meaning you need to use the ones that came with the phone, or buy an adapter I guess. I'm not sure why they insist on making this the case; the only thing I can think of is that it's more aesthetically pleasing to see a phone without loads of holes in it to connect various things. Now I'm all for making things look as good as possible, but not at the expense of something that would benefit the phone in terms of usability. Again, as was the case with the G1, you cannot charge your phone and listen to music via headphones at the same time.

      I have just thought that it might actually be possible to do this though, as if you had Bluetooth headphones, this would alleviate the problem but then that is at an extra cost. Talking of extra costs; I've noticed that they are selling accessories on T Mobile for this phone, as included with a leaflet in the box, maybe it's a bit of a money earner for them for people to buy the adapters as well as the phone? It has the address as t-mobile-accessories.co.uk/htc, but actually this doesn't work on its own and definitely needs the www to get to the correct location.

      The battery is a 1340 mAh battery, which far surpasses that of my previous phone, the N95 and many other phones on the market right now. However I must admit I was expecting it to hold its charge for much longer than it does; it will cope with a day of heavy usage (GPS, internet, MP3 playback, calls and texts) but then you will need to charge it up at the night.

      If you're like me though and are used to having to charge your N95 every day and STILL having it run out of battery after its been used a few times through the day then this is still a welcome addition as it minimizes the risk of running out of charge midway through an important call, and I don't mind charging my phone *too much* nightly anyway. If you use your phone less then you may get 2 days or so out of it, so it really does depend on your usage levels.

      I think the phone is aimed at business users with some of the features included in it and the fact that it has the windows operating system on; however would also suit gadget loving people, and every day consumers who want their phone to sing and dance as well as make calls. I know personally I'd like to carry less around with me, so to have a device that does a few things in one is quite important to me. Granted I do have to carry a camera around with me now, but it's a small price to pay in my opinion, and a choice I made as I could get away with using the camera on the phone if I really wanted to.

      It really is a nifty piece of kit for anybody who wants a top end phone with a whole host of capabilities alongside a quality build from a reliable brand. It's not without its problems, but the problems don't cause any massive problems for me in the time that I have been using this phone. I will update if I come across any but for the time being, I have no problem in recommending this phone to people.


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