Like earlier Communicators, this model has a clamshell design. Closed, the 9290 resembles an oversized (1.1 by 2.2 by 6.2 inches), candy bar-style mobile, with a standard numeric keypad and a black-and-white LCD. Open this baby up and you'll find a sharp, 4,096-color TFT display (640x200 resolution) and a QWERTY keyboard. At 8.6 ounces, the 9290 is far from pocket-sized, but to our surprise, it didn't weigh us down when we carried it in a purse or a briefcase.
Running the Symbian OS on its 32-bit ARM processor, the 9290 is also a full-fledged PDA. You can sync the phone with as many contacts as your MultiMedia Card can store and send e-mail from Microsoft Outlook and Lotus Notes. Since the 9290 also has a full QWERTY keyboard, you can easily update, access, and edit to-do lists and calendar appointments on the 9290.
Above the keyboard, there are eight dedicated keys that launch various applications such as Excel, Word, the calendar, Telephone (make calls via the speakerphone while editing documents on the phone's screen), messaging (send e-mail with attachments and SMS messages), and a Web browser (view HTML or WAP sites). Other phone features include a calculator, a world clock, and the ability to conference call up to five people. You can store additional info, apps, and games on the included 16MB MultiMedia Card. (Note: It doesn't accept SD cards.)
We tested all of the Communicator's features and found them to be better than adequate in a pinch. If you get acclimated to the odd-sized keyboard (reminiscent of those found on some of the first Windows CE devices), you'll probably use the data and PDA features frequently. Since the phone lacks a touch screen, you'll have to get used to the four-way rocker key on the keypad and the four buttons on the side of the screen to navigate through the phone's menus.
As noted, you can sync with your corporate or personal e-mail. By far, this is one of our favorite features since the 9290 supports IMAP4, POP3, MIME1 and 2, MHTML, and SMTP mail protocols and you can have at least five mailboxes on the device. We synched with our corporate e-mail and were able to access and respond to messages while on the road. Additionally, we could even send attachments, such as images that we ported to the device via its IR port.