The Tmobile Shadow
The Shadow is made by HTC, who makes the Wing, Dash and many other Windows Mobile phones. It runs Windows Mobile 6 Standard Edition . It features a bright portrait orientation QVGA display, Bluetooth 2.0, WiFi 802.11b/g, a 2 megapixel camera and slider that conceals the SureType keyboard. The Shadow has the typical 201MHz Texas Instruments OMAP processor with a better than average 256 megs of flash memory and 128 megs of RAM.

Underneath, it's still Windows Mobile. Press the Start Menu soft key to see the usual programs group and when you use that friendly T-Mobile launcher to play music, you'll still face Windows Media Player 10 Mobile unaltered. The operating system's functionality, look and feel are still largely controlled by its author: Microsoft.

The good: The T-Mobile Shadow offers a fresh take on Windows Mobile smartphones, with a sleek slider design and interface. The entry-level device also has an affordable price tag and features a beautiful display; Bluetooth and Wi-Fi; a 2-megapixel camera; and various messaging capabilities.

The bad: The call quality of the Shadow could be better, particularly the speakerphone. The navigation wheel is slippery, and performance can be sluggish when numerous apps are in use.

The Shadow is more rectangular than the Pearl and doesn't look quite as small or feel as nice in hand, but the measurements are nearly identical, though the Pearl weighs considerably less. Weight isn't always a bad thing in moderation, the Shadow is well-built and feels and looks solid. The smartphone says quality and has an understated modern elegance. It's available in two colors, copper and sage, and these are both muted and classy looking (no bright LG Chocolate colors here). It's a phone you can take to work, yet it has enough fun features to easily avoid boredom.

The SureType keyboard isn't a full QWERTY but beats a number pad for texting. The Shadow has XT9 predictive text to guess what you meant and does an OK job but not great. There's multipress for entering names and URLs, which XT9 has no hope of getting it right. The keys are quite large for a phone this size, but they're flat which means you'll need to keep an eye on what you're doing lest you slip off to the wrong key.

The Shadow's 2.6" 64k display is absolutely lovely-- extremely bright, colorful and glossy. It puts the Dash to shame. The resolution is the standard Windows Mobile smartphone QVGA 240 x320 in portrait orientation (unlike the Dash and Motorola Q9 Global which are landscape orientation). Photos and videos look great on the phone's display and despite the uninspiring 201MHz CPU, the Shadow handles video playback better than most MS smartphones. We do suggest you stick with video encoded at 300kbps or less though or you'll notice frame drops.

Data is available in two flavors: EDGE and WiFi. EDGE is long in the tooth these days, with the other 3 major carriers offering high speed data ranging from 300-900k. We got an average of 90kbps on DSL Reports Mobile speed test, which is a tiny bit better than the Dash. Thankfully there's WiFi 802.11b/g which works when in range of a WiFi hotspot or access point. You can use WiFi with your home WiFi network, workplace or school network free of charge. T-Mobile's $20/month Internet plan provides unlimited EDGE and use of T-Mobile Hotspots such as those at Starbucks, FedEx Kinkos and more. Not a bad deal.

Battery life is the Shadow's weak point. Though T-Mobile claims up to 5 hours of talk time, we got more like 3 which is puzzling for a phone that has no 3G, a fairly slow CPU and a small display. Under moderate use the smartphone's 920 mAh Lithium Ion battery required nightly charging, while the Dash made it 2 days on a charge.

All Windows Mobile phones sync to Outlook on Windows. Mac users will need a 3rd party program like Missing Sync since there's no solution in the box. Windows XP folks will use the ActiveSync 4.5 installer on the included companion CD and Vista users will run Mobile Device Center to sync. There's an Outlook 2007 trial installer on the CD, but you can use your current installation.

The Shadow's 2 megapixel camera sounds state of the art by US standards, but the images were sub-par. The camera's maximum resolution is 1600 x 1200 with with 4 lower resolutions available and 4 quality settings. There are plenty of other settings and effects including brightness, white balance, timer, metering mode 4 effects. The entire screen becomes the viewfinder and you can easily switch between modes.

The Shadow is slim, very attractive and hip looking, something we don't often say about MS smartphones. It does a good job of bridging the gap between a sexy-looking feature phone with entertainment on board and a business-minded device. Power users will be happy to hear the full compliment of WinMo features are there and novices will find navigating features easier. Though the phone has just the basic 201MHz TI CPU, performance is good by MS smartphone standards.


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