Pros Good form factor, lightweight, good call quality
Cons Terrible battery life, horrible user interface, slow, poor Outlook Notes syncing, bad reception
Summary When the Blackjack came through to Cingular, I was really ready for an upgrade from my tried and true Treo 650. What I wanted was the same functionality in a smaller and lighter phone, and the Blackjack seemed to check off all the right boxes.
What I got was a slow, difficult to navigate, battery-sucking little monster. As a frequent early adopter, I have never been so disappointed; here is a product which seems to have everything and yet is good at nothing. As others have described its virtues, I am going to focus instead on its fatal flaws. And while this may seem a whole-hearted attack on the phone, I don't lack balance. I am, of course, a sucker for its form factor. I like it's size and style and weight, and I think the slanted keyboard keys work pretty nicely for what they are. Above all, I really really wanted to love this phone.
The purpose of this review is to bring to the forefront some of the major flaws that make this phone ill-suited for the mobile professional looking for productivity first and entertainment second. I have observed wholehearted adoration for this phone emanating from Cingular store employees; I suspect this is because it is good for listening to music (if you can find a way to listen to it – Bluetooth stereo headphones have not fared well in reviews thus far, and there is currently not a suitable stereo hardwired headset option), viewing 20 second video blurbs, and storing contacts. I imagine they’re not doing a whole lot of corporate emailing, Outlook syncing, or .pdf viewing.
So enough of all that - here are my top 5 reasons why you should think twice before dropping your hard earned cash on this little wonder:
1) Battery Life. As commonly complained, this phone can rarely make it through the business day without a recharge/battery swap. What this means is, I take this phone off the charger, fully charged, at 7 am, and need to have it charged again or the battery replaced by 2 to 3 pm. This is entirely unacceptable, particularly as a battery replace involves powering down and restarting the unit.
2) User Interface. While the screen is colorful and sharp, it often takes several keystrokes more than necessary to reach an application, and the UI is counterintuitive at best. The customization of the home screen is cosmetic only, and allows for no remedy of this problem. The 3rd party apps that do allow customization are cumbersome, and only slow down a phone that already has a lot of problems with…
3.) Speed. To add insult to injury, this phone is SLOW. Not often advertised is it's 200mhz processor speed - a real thorn in the side of a phone which could really benefit from a faster response time. Even the most simple apps, such as "contacts" take 2 to 3 seconds to load. I also think this must slow down the browser. Despite much vaunted 3G speeds (and I live in a dense metropolitan area and am connected to 3G most of the time), internet browsing is slow and almost unusable. The phone IS fast at downloading email attachments, but it seems that the same data speed cannot be translated effectively into speedy web browsing.
4.) Outlook compatibility. Much to my chagrin, Windows Mobile 5.0 does not support syncing to Outlook notes. Why, I can't comprehend. I was under the impression that a WinMo smartphone would be better integrated with Outlook, but clearly that is not the case. The included 3rd party app to sync to Outlook notes appears to require reentry of all of the notes on the smartphone before moving them over to a new subfolder on Outlook. This is ridiculous for anyone who has a pretty healthy archive of notes. Furthermore, the notes sync destroys categories. Overall, for my personal use (and I understand that this is not the same for everyone), this failure to play nicely with Outlook Notes is a disaster. It's also embarrassing for MS, who I tend to typically defend against all the naysayers who accuse them of half-baked product integration and luke warm innovation.
5.) Reception. I don't know if this is a problem with Cingular's 3G network or what, but reception on this phone has been approximately 50% inferior to what it was on my previous phones. I will often not receive calls at all in areas where I used to have 3 to 4 bars and have no problems. Once again, don't know if this is the phone or the network, but the fact that this phenomenon has occurred everywhere (and I have traveled with it) convinces me it is probably the phone.
In summary, I think I've made it clear I was pretty disapointed with this phone. It really has all the potential to be great. I think with a faster processor and a more intuitive interface and better Outlook compatibility, this phone will be there. In the end, I've decided that I would much rather have a slightly heavier and less glamorous phone that actually works and does well the things I need it to do than be a fashion victim to the underwhelming Blackjack.Updated
To clarify my review, I referred to the OS as Windows Mobile 5.0. It is, indeed, Windows Mobile 5.0, despite the comments I have received to the contrary. Although it is Windows Mobile 5.0 Smartphone Edition as opposed to Pocket PC Edition. I cannot comment on whether or not the Pocket PC Edition natively supports Notes syncing, but I still maintain that this ommission is ironic in the context of a MS OS.
Pros Size, function, battery life, sync ability
Cons Buttons are too close together
Summary I am a phone geek, I started off with the Treo 650, then to the HP 6515, then to the ever so popular Razr, and now and I settled in with the Blackjack. Out of all the phones I have used in the past, the Blackjack probably had to most to offer, and by far one, if not the, most useful phone I have ever used.
The size of this phone is amazing. The thickness is close to a Razr. And unlike the Razr, it is actually pretty comfortable to hold, no uneasiness what-so-ever. The screen is beautiful, it is not a touch screen, nor is it as big as the Treo's or HP, but it gets the job done. The built in click wheel reminds me of the Blackberry, it allows for quick and easy access for opening certain applications or messages. The thickness of the phone is also a very attractive selling point(To be honest, this is the point that won me over.)The phone is no thinker than the Razr, and it fits in your pocket very nicely. All the software options are very user friendly(its what you expect from Microsoft) and if you like installing mp3 ringtones on your phones, this is the phone for you because the speaker is clear, loud, and you can tell they didn't go cheap on the media aspect. Last but not least, the camera. It was a better camera than I expected. I took a couple of pictures of my dog and a video clip of her running around, the quality is pretty gosh darn good. And with the built in media player and microSD card slot, I am sure watching movies on the phone won't be a challenge to do at all.
There are some things that can be better for this phone, after all, nothing is perfect in the world except God Himself. First off, the button are very close together. So for someone who have big hands(I am a fomer basketball player), you would sometimes hit the call button when you really wanted the menu button. The bluetooth connectivity is limited because they expect you to use the USB cable(USB sync is so Yesterday.)And finally, there is no built in WiFi. But with the 3G network and the option to use HSPDA provided by Cingular, no WiFi, no harm done. Another thing that I thought they could of improve on is the ability for the user to customize the menu, but then I guess that is a MS Windows thing.
With all that said, this is truly a great phone. With Palm not being innovative about their smartphone design and other companies making smartphones the size of a Hummer, the Blackjack offers consumer a breath of fresh air, just like Motorola did with the Q. Unless Apple come out with the Iphone anytime soon, I think I might just keep this thing for awhile.
Pros Feel, look, simplicity, functionality
Cons Very, very few that can't be tweaked
Summary OK, I feel I owe it to the Blackjack to write this review because of all the other reviews I read here first before finally deciding to take the plung and go for it. And let me tell you I am very happy I did!
First and foremost I think the individuals that gave this phone 4's or below are the same type of people that buy a base model car and complain that it doesn't have the bells and whistles when they drive off the lot. Out of the box this phone is great but if you can actually use your brain, try some new things out and be creative this phone is going to be one of the best purchases you make for a while, at least for the 2 years cingular locks you in for.=)
I'm going to give you some examples. The first has to do with not being able to access google's GMAIL and GOOGLE MAPS mobile phone applications. This is true, out of the box these do not work because of restrictions that cingular put in the phone. HOWEVER, searching around I was able to find this (http://www.howardforums.com/showthread.php?t=1055665&page=1&pp=15) which explains in full detail how to get google's applications to run flawlessly. Long story short, it works!!!
Second, the batteries. Yes, the batteries drain quicker then normal because of the 3G technology. I bet you if the same people complaining had 1 week of battery life and could only read 1 email per hour, they would gripe about the data speed. It's a lose-lose for them. I'll say it again, BE CREATIVE!!! With 3G active you could get about 3-4 hours of battery life. If you are out and about take the second battery with you. OR! turn 3G on, check your email, do your data stuff and then turn 3G off and switch to GSM mode. There is a great comment in these reviews that explains how to create a shortcut for the start menu to make the switching back and forth between the modes take about 4 seconds (I know, real tough). Just today I was switching back and forth between 3G and GSM and went through one bar of battery.
In doing some basic google searches I also discovered that you could turn the "BEAM" feature off which will increase the battery life by another 15%. Beaming is when two devices send things back and forth such as electronic business cards, etc... but why have this active all the time? There is no reason, so turn it off until or when you need it.
The screen on the blackjack is awesome too. Beautiful colors and clarity. I was hoping that one of the features of the phone would be a full picture screen of who was calling if you assigned that contact a picture. Did it have it...no. Did I toss the phone agains the wall and curse the day I got it...no. I found "Photo Contacts PRO" which is an application that can be installed on the blackjack and do exactly what I wanted with incoming caller pictures.
The only major flaw I found is that the blackjack does not have a regular 3.5mm headset jack to plug in to. It has some weird port that you have to buy a special headset for ORRRRRR you could go froogle.com, search for "blackjack 3.5mm" and buy and adapter for $4.99 so you can use your existing headset to listen to music, etc... See, it's simple.
Here is my final word. In getting these types of devices every person has their own expectations of what they want. Rarely does something come off the shelf that you are competely satisfied with. Remember that they put this-icon-here and that-menu-there because they polled a bunch of people that tested this product and took the average of what was considered "positive feedback". Do your own research on how to tweak the blackjack. Read posts on tips and tricks. Hell, creative people even started blackjackusers.com for people. Use your head. Don't read to much into the "I took it out of the box and it didn't...." reviews. This phone is amazing and worth the $200 hands down.
"Not bad, Not Great"on by robkman
Pros Size, Many Functions, Bright Screen
Cons Battery Life, Music Volume Output
Summary I have been using the Blackjack for 1 week now. I have never had a PDA (last phone was a Nokia 6200). Overall I would give this phone a 7.5 out of 10.
Phone / Talking - The phone is about a 7 out of 10. It picks up background noise easy but I can talk and hear ok. When using a wired head set I found the sound to be muffled and not up to my expectations. I also used the Motorala Bluetooth head set (the one that flips open and closes) and also found this to be a little muffled. The speaker phone was pretty good though.
PDA - The PDA features are good. The key pad is very nice and small but useable. They should have raised the circle navigation buttons a little bit to help you avoid hitting the buttons next to it. The dial on the right is easy to use and press to select items. I use this to get my work email. Cingular service dropped the ball a little with helping me with some settings (All mail being sent out uses cwmx.com) but it all works great now. I can synch my Calender and Contacts from MS Outlook to my phone with the included USB data cable.
Music Playing - I have the 2 GB memory card which took me a few minutes to get in but now I have the hang of it. It comes with Windows Media Player and I can play all of my MP3's collected even since the Napster days. The sound pumps out very faint though so I was disappointed here. I took the Boston subway (aka The T) and found it hard to hear the songs even when the volume was maxed out. The speaker plays songs nice but again not with even average background noise (unless you hold it close to your ear).
Browsing - I used Internet Explorer and went to CNN.com. This was above expectations. The screen was nice and bright with vivid colors. The articles were easy to read with many lines on one single screen.
Battery - It comes with two batteries so that tells you the story already. It will get you through the day if you are not a heavy user. I check email frequently and take moderate phone calls (sometimes the battery makes it through the day sometimes not).
Camera - The camera is easy to use and a nice feature but thats about all I can tell you since I dont use it much.
Overall I like the phone. The size is great, PDA/Phone is good, and features are good. Many things could have been done better but for what I wanted (a small quality phone with a full key pad and PDA) you can not beat it right now.
Hope that helps someone.
Pros Super signal strength, very loud earpiece volume, thin as a Razor, very clear user interface, easy text messaging, easy navigation.
Cons Supposedly slow battery life, although I havent seen it at all.
Summary This phone is the best I have ever used. I did extensive research before purchasing and I have not been let down to say the least. Better then ANY other phone in its class. I wasn't even going to write a review until I saw others making fallacious claims that simply arent true. This phone has great reception, very easy to navigate after 5 minutes of experimenting unless you are mentally incapacitated.
The speed of the phone is great, not quite sure where this complaint originated from, perhaps someone who purchased a motorola Q and decided to launch a hate campaign after realizing their mistake.
The battery life seems fine to me, I have used it for several days and after each day I still have full power even using the lessor of the batteries that come with the unit (the slimmer one.) This could be different if you are constantly using other apps which drain the battery, but thats why they give you two.
You can program quick launch applications to access them quickly from the main screen, so it only takes several keystrokes if you do not have the capacity to program this, which is simple, and even then you can do this very quickly.
Accessing websites is very crisp, although keep in mind that if you access websites which are slow themselves then of course you are going to be bottlenecked by their bandwidth, of course no fault due to the phone itself.
this phone is great, do not pay any attention to the hate mongering that certain people have commented on and listen to the vast majority of reviews that show what truely a great phone it is. Thats why it gets one of the highest ratings among CNET and its users combined. You will not be disappointed.