James's HTC S710 reviewJames Johnson - Member
Much like the T-Mobile Wing, the HTC S710 combines the power of a quad-band GSM phone, and soon the power of the Sprint CDMA network, with the know how and tested practices of the HTC brand. The phone is small, yet functions with even more usability of a larger Motorola Q, while offering a unique candy bar design never before found in a side loaded sliding qwerty keyboard.
Even with its smaller size, the HTC 710 never sacrifices its functionality, in fact the HTC 710 actually capitalizes on its small dimensions (3.97 inches x 1.96 inches x .69 inches) by implementing the first candy bar styling phone to feature a side loaded sliding qwerty style keyboard, while keeping the thickness of the phone at a respective .69 inches. The phone also weighs in at a manageable weight of only 16 grams.
The model I chose to review provided by MobilePlanet came in a black design with silver/chrome front keys. While it wasn’t the most striking color design I have seen, the unique size made up for the lack of an ooh and ahh factor found in the phones color scheme.
At first glance the phone appears to be nothing more than a candy bar cellular device. The phone features a front panel numeric keypad with two distinct soft keys, which point on the left to the Windows Start Button and on the right to the phones messaging system. The front display also features a back arrow and home keys for easy navigation. Finally a directional keypad is offered for navigating throughout the Windows Mobile Interface and other third party applications that are easily loadable to the device.
Further investigation reveals a Micro SD slot located on the right side of the device, the slot offers easy access to the memory slot. The right side of the phone also features a camera button at the top of the phone.
The left side of the device also has a hidden second slot, this slot however is meant for the phones Sim Card. I specifically enjoyed the Sim card being located on the side of the phone, mainly because it saved me from having to dig out the battery when placing the card in the reader, or removing the card for other uses. On the top left there is also an up and down arrow, this is used specifically for volume control functionality. While the phone also features an easy to use one touch button function for voice tag usage.
The top of the phone features a multifunctional button for turning the device on and off, while also used for accessing the phones connectivity menu and for swapping between profiles, while the bottom of the phone features a USB connection for charging and syncing.
On the back of the phone you’ll find a 2.0 mega pixel camera with very little thrills, but it gets the job done.
Finally, pushing on the side of the phone reveals a sliding keyboard, and while the phone may be fairly small in dimensions, the keyboard was actually fairly spacious with a high level of usability. The keyboard also features blue backlight keys for easy access in low light areas.
Aside from the phones aesthetic happenings, the device offers an excellent build factor. The phone definitely lives up to the high build standards set forth by HTC’s entire line of devices. The phone has no gaps, no rubbing of parts, and thanks to a well built slider device, no issues opening and closing the phones unique, and first of its kind, side loaded sliding qwerty keyboard.
FeaturesThe obvious new feature of the HTC S710 is the new operating system in Windows Mobile 6.0. The OS offers users easier access to their email by allowing for email searching and opening of documents in the HTML Format. The Operating system also allows users to open documents in their entirety without having to use the Send/Receive function as it did in the previous Windows Mobile 5.0 OS. The calendar and other views are also greatly enhanced. I’ll get into the Windows Mobile 6.0 Operating system in more depth at a later date, I will mention however that the phone operates smoothly and efficiently with the new interface.
The HTC S710 features a sliding qwerty keyboard that flips between standard and landscape modes depending on the keyboards position with a striking blue lit display module.
The S710 I examined came unlocked with no type of GSM Carrier features flashed to it (Cingular/ATT, TMobile, Cellular One). I personally think this is a good thing as it allows users to load their own third party applications, while not restricting the phones capabilities to one service. If you are looking for a direct load system with T-Mobile features or Cingular offerings however, you may actually find this feature to be limiting.
An added bonus is the ability to open MS Office applications in Word, Excel, and Powerpoint for easy viewing and editing, a newly found feature that added an ease of business use to the device. With the use of Mass card storage through the phones USB syncing feature it easier than ever to work with office documents on the go.
The 2.0 Megapixel camera offers nothing new in terms of picture taking, but it also doesn’t detract from the phones usability, the pictures taken were of an average gradient and the lighting in room lit conditions was sharp and concise, but nothing to gawk at. The picture quality in low lit areas was okay considering the phone doesn’t house a flash, and the pictures loaded quickly once taken with little delay from the time the button was pressed to take the picture or video.
Display & AudioThe HTC flash, much like the LG KE970 features a QVGA screen putting out resolutions of 240x320. However, the screen size of the device is slightly larger than the LG, coming in at 2.4” while pushing out 65,000 colors.
Overall the display is easy on the eyes, and with the new look of Windows Mobile 6.0 helping the device along, I actually found the device to be in its own league in terms of easiness on the eyes. Combine the new Mobile 6.0 look with the well backlit canvas of the S710, alongside the QVGA screen and the outcome is admirable.
I love devices that have good sound features, and while this phone may not be the equivalent of the Sony Ericsson W850i, I wasn’t really expecting it to be. The phone offers support for the following mainstream playback files: AAC, WMA, WMV, MP3 and ASF. The phone is no way offers stirring hi-fidelity playback, especially through the phones rear loaded back speaker system. If you plan on listening to MP3’s I would highly suggest plugging in the included stereo wired headset for easy listening.
The HTC S710 offers programs for music listening, the first is the Windows based Media Player software, while the second is HTC’s Audio manager software. Both the Media Player and the Audio Manager are similar, barring their difference in the look of their interfaces.
The device also features an MP3 Trimmer that can be used to set start and end points of selected MP3’s. Essentially, users can forget about paid services for MP3 ringtones, and instead create their own, a novel approach for sure.
Messaging, Internet & ConnectivityThe HTC S710 was made for messaging as much as it was for business purposes. While the phone may not feature the killer apps of the Pantech Ocean, it does offer a full qwerty keyboard that at no point compromises the phones size. The phone also features MSN Messenger capabilities that have been upgraded with an easier to follow layout for messenger users.
My favorite messaging features however come in the form of outlook usability. Users of the new exchange server 2007 can easily set out of office messages from their HTC S710, while viewing and sending HTML messages (A feature not previously available) the phones newer global address lookup and outlook capabilities makes the phone much more suited for emailing on an exchange server than ever before.
The phone also features AOL, Yahoo! And Windows Live push email support. The messages were received quickly on each platform using the Cingular Edge network, and Tmobile service, while the lag time for messaging was fairly minimal.
I would really have liked to see a 3G connection on the HTC S710, but at its fairly low buy price I can’t complain. Not to mention that the phones Internet Explorer moved at a nice pace while surfing the net on the Edge network. I actually found both AT&T and T-Mobile to be well suited for web browsing, emailing, and basic web functionality. One qualm I have with the unit isn’t based on its own fault, but rather the inability of Internet explorer to open multiple windows at one time. I actually prefer phones running the Opera browser such as the Nokia E62, if you want a better experience with the S710 I suggest getting the Opera browser.
The phone also features the field tested 802.11 b/g WiFi. Much like the HTC P4350 and P3600 models, this new HTC device offers easy WiFi setup. The new Mobile 6.0 version on a happy note has finally taught itself to connect much easier for voice calls. I should point out however that skype and some other providers suggest a minimum 400mhz processor opposed to the HTC 710’s 200mhz configuration. The phone also features support for WEP encryption, WPA, and LEAP.
When all is said and done, the HTC S710 offers a solid internet connectivity package, Internet explorer opened quickly and offered a no thrills setup in regular and landscape modes. I found the WiFi to be sturdy and easy to use, while
The HTC S710 is a Quad-band GSM (850/900/1800/1900mhz) device that will operate on all North American GSM towers. The device will also be released this year as a CDMA device available through Sprint under a different yet to be released name. The device also features Bluetooth 2.0 connectivity, allowing users to connect up to 6 devices at one time using the phones easy to learn comm. Manager program. The phone also ships with an included data sync cable for easy access to your computer files. Not to be left out is the devices A2DP feature which worked well alongside the Motorola S9 Active Headset.On a side note, users can save files directly to the Micro SD card, including video and pictures taken from the 2.0 megapixel camera.
ConclusionOften times these days phones choose style over substance, hoping to attract users to the devices cool new look. Unfortunately all to often those devices offer little to nothing new in terms of usability. The HTC S710 proves that a nice form factor can be combined with excellent usability, creating a device that is not only nice to look at, but offers applications that add to the phones practicality. HTC with their new attempt have proven that a major overhaul in phone design is more than skin deep, so to speak.
In fact, after playing with the HTC 710 for several weeks, it became more and more apparent that the devices form factor actually plays second fiddle to a bevy of hosted software programs that will offer students, business professionals, and many other users a refreshing new approach to cell phone usage. If you are using a GSM Network, or if you can wait until the Sprint release of this phones CDMA offering, I would highly suggest doing so, you’ll find the phone less bulky to carry around than other phones with a hidden qwerty keyboard, and you’ll even find the systems 200mhz processor to be on par with phones such as the Blackjack, while pushing out even more support programs then the aforementioned device. Overall I would suggest the HTC S710 to any user looking for a business solution, or anyone looking to send text messages without filling up their pockets with bulkier devices of less usability.