Sprint’s PPC6700 Stands Out

56 Comments

ppc6700You may have heard the argument: When talk turns to converged consumer electronics devices, many tech industry observers point to the clock radio as one of the few success stories. Everything else, no matter the maker, tends to sacrifice usability in the name of feature-lust. So what to make of Sprint’s new HTC-designed, UTStarcom-produced, PPC6700? In addition to posing as a dual-band CDMA phone (800/1900MHz), Sprint’s new business-focused smartphone also packs both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth radios, operates on Sprint’s nascent EV-DO network, includes a (surprisingly good) 1.3 mega-pixel camera, the Windows Mobile 5.0 OS, an integrated QWERTY keyboard, and a removable storage slot.

As it turns out, the 6700 may be the best-designed and implemented PDA phone to date. I spent the last four days testing the 6700 encountering no major problems; in fact, the 6700 may be one of the first devices to offer a viable alternative to towing around a laptop on short trips. Not only was I able to connect to the Internet via Wi-Fi at home and the office (its internal antenna was able to pick up a Starbuck’s signal 29 floors below and a block away), at times I was able to get download speeds in excess of 400 Kbps using Sprint’s EV-DO network here in San Francisco. (Here’s a list of cities in which Sprint currently offers 3G.) The Windows software suite—as it should handled all my MSFT office documents seamlessly; I was able to read, re-format and edit documents on the device and had no problems transferring/receiving documents, via Bluetooth, with both my IBM ThinkPad and Apple PowerBook.

But with any device of its size, the big question was how well the 6700s keyboard would feel after repeated use. Unlike many other slider phones, the 6700s keyboard doesn’t feel flimsy; roughly the same length of a Treo (slightly smaller, actually), there’s enough real estate for all the keys. Unfortunately, the buttons are not raised as much as the Treos (or Blackberry), which made typing tough at first. The 6700 also offers a software keyboard and a stylus to use when the phone’s main keyboard is retracted.

The Windows Mobile 5.0 OS is impressive, though there are signs it still needs work. The 6700’s software occasionally lags between commands, but it addresses many of the earlier complaints about Windows Mobile. Users can toggle between portrait and landscape modes, and the phone automatically switches to landscape when the keyboard is extended. Wisely, Sprint also decided to support Dial-Up Networking via Bluetooth, meaning you’ll be able to use the 6700 as a high-speed modem. Unfortunately, it’s a feature that’s not ready yet. “Bluetooth Dial Up Networking capabilities ( ed: for both Macs and PCs) will not be available until later this year when we receive a software patch from Microsoft,” said a Sprint spokesperson in an email exchange.

I was also surprised at the 6700’s size—or lack thereof. At just a shade over 6 ounces, and 4.25 inches long, the 6700 is just smaller than a Treo 650, and tinier than some of the larger PDA phones like the Sony Ericsson P900. As usual, HTC included an excellent cell radio—I haven’t experienced a drop call yet. And the Taiwanese vendors experience with getting the most out a battery shows as well—despite somewhat heavy Bluetooth and Wi-Fi use, I managed to keep the 6700 running all weekend on a single charge.

None of this comes cheap, of course. At $479 (after a $150 rebate), the PPC6700 is at the high end of Sprint’s offerings. There’s also the matter of Sprint’s high-dollar data plans—which can run as high as $80 per month for unlimited data usage. It may be too soon to call the 6700 a Treo-killer, but its certainly one of the best converged devices made to date. If you’re in the market for a high-functioning mobile phone, and can live with Sprint, this should top your list of candidates.

Review by Matt Maier, wireless and gizmo correspondent for Business 2.0 magazine. Subscribe to his Weekly Wireless Report.

56 Comments

Roderick McCaster

I only pay $15/mth.for unlimited data w/Power Vision Plan. Also, call and ad 500 text/mth for $4.00/mth.

moni

i am doing a lot of research and i am interested in the 6700 however i am trying to get some comparable between the 6700 and the treo. Can someon help me and let me know which one wil be better for me. my profession allows me to be online a lot

Dwight D.

Gary, I feel your pain. I love my PPC6700, but I too, have had problems with the dropped Bluetooth device calls. I have the same Motorola product and considered spending money to get another model until I read your email. The text messaging loss also caught me off guard. Another problem I’ve incurred is the lack of available accessories. I have gone into the stores and they act as if I asked for Captai Kirk’s “Beam-Me-Up Scottie” gun. Hopefully someone from the company or the manufacturer will read these responses and make us happy PPC-6700 owners.

Gerrard

I have had the PPC6700 for about 5 days and it is the best Pocket PC phone I have ever used. I had the Treo 650, and the Samsung and neither one can touch this phone at all. : – ) Totally awesome yo! I can send picture mail with it though. Do the ring tones and much more it is the best ya heard! Don’t sleep if you don’t have one you need to get one ASAP!! : – )

damien

the ‘power vision’ plans range from $15 to $25 per month. be careful, because some of the things they say it includes require an extra fee to be paid (like sirius radio access through your phone).

i have problems with my bluetooth dropping all the time. i have a motorola hs850 and sometimes it’s partnered with the device and other times it is not. there’s no apparent reason why it works. once i get that feature fixed i’ll be much happier.

when i switched to power vision they removed my unlimted text messages and want to charge me for it. be careful when you change your plan from regular vision to power vision.

does anyone have any ideas on how to fix the bluetooth issue?

Gary J.

You can use any .wav or .mp3 file as a ringtone. Just copy the file into the Windows/Rings folder. Also, I have the Vision Plus package which is $15/mo. and allows unlimited data. Things I don’t like: you can’t use any of the other Vision Plus features, such as sending photos, accessing video & audio sites, Sirius, etc.

matt

I just got this phone from Verizon ($299/ 2yr contract/ and declined the $45 data plan promo).

The phone is amazingly stable and looks good in black. Unfortunately when you activate Wifi, the phone service gets disabled.
I hope there’s a hack around that.

I wish Verizon would have a more reasonable price for the EVDO. It does appear to consume less battery since the wifi radio isn’t on. It also is a more efficient, less latent network protocol than typical Wifi.

All in all, I’m ecstatic about this product.

Brandi

Does anyone know if you can receive customizable ringtones for the PPC 6700. Other than not being able to send pics via picturemail, not having customizable ringtones is a major setback. Does anyone know of an external site that has customizable ringtones for this phone?

Thanks!

Rex Haugen

I got a PPC6700 in Nov and the plan they said i needed to get EVDO was a 25 per month power vision pack. Is this the correct plan or is there a cheaper plan that i can get to have evdo? hit me up at rex.sdoorex@gmail.com or (720)9795444

Brian B

I love the device but you are unable to send photo’a to others via picture mail. It is not a feature on this phone. That is the only hold back I see on this device.

Alan S.

Bought this phone a week ago and LOVE it. My only complaint is that I really badly would like to use it with my Mac, but it doesn’t appear to work correctly with PocketMac yet… hopefully they will release an update soon. What a pain! I can send files from my phone to the mac via bluetooth, but I can’t browse the phone from my mac… otherwise, no complaints – very nice handset. Contact me via my website if you have questions about it.

JJ

The PPC-6700 is a really nice device, but getting to your corporate email is a problem unless your company runs external ActiveSync. The Sprint Business Connection client software is not out for the 6700 yet, and Goodlink software from Good Technology does not yet work on the 6700. Had to go back to my Treo until these issues are fixed…

stevewak

I was looking to buy a 6700 today at a corporate Sprint store, and the Asst. Mgr. there told me the 6700 doesn’t support the Vision Plan at all, and told me I had to buy a $40/month EVDO plan to get Internet access from Sprint if I am using a 6700. I told him that I had read that it works with the vision plan (which I already use on my Sanyo 8100), but he swore it did not and there is no way to access the Internet through Sprint with the 6700 outside of the more expensive EVDO service. He than came back and corrected his original price estimate for EVDO to $25/mnth. From what I am seeing here and other places, he was just trying to bluff me into buying something I don’t need.

Clive

What a great site. Mac mad man with new PPC6700. I cannot get bluetooth to work with my PowerBook. PocketMacPro does not support Windows 5 yet. How can I get the phone to talk to my mac. How did you do it Om? (or anyone else)

ilfixu@mac.com

Craig Bergman

Can anyone who has the DataPlan and such contact me at iowacc@aol.com. I need help setting this up and teir 2 sprint guys are not helpful… I am trying to use bluetooth to connect to the 6700 modem for surfing in remote places. Also they are charging me the $80 for data.. so if you have details and facts to share about why I dont need that on this phone to use it as a modem I would be grateful! Thanks

Maureen

Does anyone have any experience with sending and receiving pictures with the PPC6700? I Called sprint tech support and they say the service is unavailable for this device. It doesn’t make much sense to have a built in camera and be unable to send pics phone to phone.

joe c

how well do the traditional phone functions work?? audoi, volume,etc.

Shawn

Does anyone know where I can obtain a PPC6700 for a cheaper price than what Sprint charges? If so, please hit me at (714) 404-9010

Brandon Paddock

Sprint’s unlimited data plans start at $10/month – including EVDO… So long as you have a voice plan of some kind as well.

You’re probably confusing it with their data-only plans for PC card devices, which are considerably higher.

I have a PPC-6700 and love it, and I pay $15/month for unlimited EVDO and 1X, and SMS.

Matthew Maier

Erik:

Couldn’t get the Bluetooth DUN to work with my trust Mac. Did it work for you?

Matt

Mindflayer

Are you going to get MarkSpace’s Missing Sync and test syncing with the Powerbook? My past experience with Windows CE/Mobile has been quite good with Missing Sync.

Brand New Treo

how much is the data charge? i just got the $10 vision package for my treo and they said it covers all my data that i use, even for emails, unlimited.

Ben W

NOTE: You don’t need the $80 data plan to use EV-DO on this phone.. It just requires the $15 Vision ‘Power Pack’ at this time. The $80 is for standalone EV-DO cards.

Todd

I don’t know what data plans you are seeing, but I have the phone from Sprint and unlimited EV-DO data is $15/month. That’s a steal…

java2king

This is CDMA, we need GSM and pretty sure, this should be out for GSM soon…so we can use it WW.

Jacob Varghese

Om,

Did you test out Voip on the phone?
It seems the have the necessary processing power for it.

Matthew Maier

Ab:

You’re right. This phone is–or will be–available in other markets, especially in Europe. HTC sells the basic design to any carrier that’s interested, who can then build their own software features on top of the basic platform. I believe O2 is one of the other carriers using it currently, and there should be others.

Matt

Ab

Will mobile phone users in other countries be able to lay their hands on this device? From your review, it seems like it might be similar to the O2 XDA IIs.

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