Smartphones Now: Windows Mobile 5

If you’ve heard about a Windows-based smartphone in the past year or two, it’s most likely running Windows Mobile 5.0. Actually a subset of what Microsoft calls Windows CE, Windows Mobile 5.0 (WM5) runs with a portion of Windows CE 5.0’s total features. Various subsets of Windows CE is used for OSes like the Windows Mobile Pocket PC Edition, Windows Mobile Smartphone Edition, and Portable Media Center. Confused yet?

Well, all you need to know is that there are currently two different types of WM5 devices that you can purchase. One of these versions is WM5 Pocket PC Edition (WM5-PPC), which runs on larger phones that often have a touch-screen (almost all) or keyboard (about half). The other version is WM5 Smartphone Edition (WM5-S), which usually comes in a candybar, flip-phone or flat-clam shape (like the Motorola Q). Which one’s the right one for you? Read on to find out.

WM or Small and Pretty: You Decide

So why would you buy a WM5 phone instead of say, a Motorola RAZR or something smaller and prettier? Functionality, functionality, functionality! Being able to have a lightweight device with laptop-like functionality you can just whip in and out of your pocket is worth the added bulk in your pants. Web browsing, email, instant messaging, media playback, RSS reading, Skype VoIP calling, emulation gaming, organizing, and scheduling are just a few things you can do.

Couple all this functionality with an unlimited data plan and you get BlackBerry-like emailing and become reachable wherever you are — much to the detriment of your free time. If you’ve got a GPS-receiver with Bluetooth or even a WM5 device that has a GPS built in, you can also use your phone as portable navigation. And if your provider allows it, you can tether your smartphone to your laptop and use it as a portable modem to get internet access anywhere.

Why WM

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Comparatively speaking, WM5 phones are a bit cheaper than phones running Palm or Symbian. There are also the various form factors, ranging from the thin Motorola Q, the slightly thicker Palm Treo 700w, the RAZR-esque Cingular 3125 flip-phone, and the slide-out keyboard of the upcoming Cingular 8125. There are various models to suit your needs while still being small enough to carry. Depending on your current provider, you may have more choices than your buddies.

What, Where, When?

. The i730 is running Windows Mobile 2003 Second Edition, which is kind of old so we won’t recommend that. Between the other two, the Motorola Q runs WM5-S, but still has Verizon’s fast EV-DO mobile internet. Grab this one if you’re looking for a slim portable and are willing to give up stuff like Mobile Office and touch-screen functionality.

The Palm Treo 700w gives you the same QWERTY-face as the Q, but with full WM5-PPC functionality. If you want a slide-out keyboard, which is a bit easier to use, but makes the phone thicker, then the XV6700 is the way to go.

the same as the Treo 700w, with minor modifications like more memory. The more expensive ($599 after 2-year service contract) Samsung IP-830W gives you both CDMA and GSM (overseas) access, as well as a 520MHz Processor. There’s also an integrated QWERTY keyboard, making it just as usable as the other two.

. They offer two versions, one with camera and one without, which is useful depending on where you work. It has the same slide-out keyboard, but no external antenna and a bit bulkier styling, but the guts are just about the same.

Then there’s the Cingular 3125, which is a WM5-S package that fits into a Motorola RAZR-like body. You give up keyboard features, but you gain the bulgeless pants look that’s so popular with the ladies nowadays. If you’re looking for a candybar, there’s the Cingular 2125, which also runs the WM5-S OS. It’s even smaller than the 3125.

There is an upcoming Cingular 8525, which is like the 8125 but with a 400MHz processor and 3G capabilities. This should be available by Christmas, but we don’t have a solid launch date yet.

. The Dash and the SDA both run WM5-S, but the Dash has an onboard QWERTY keyboard, and the SDA is the same as the Cingular 2125.

The MDA is the same as the Cingular 3125, Verizon XV6700 and Sprint PPC-6700, and also has a slide-out keyboard and runs WM5-PPC. Deciding between these phones depends on whether you want more functionality or more portability.

Windows Mobile does quite a bit out of the gate – Pocket IE, Emailing, Portable Office, and text messaging – but it doesn’t do it all. That’s why additional apps are so important. These are some of our favorites.

<img src=", you can make free VoIP calls from your cell. Skype is a free download, but uses quite a bit of CPU, so keep an eye on your battery life.

: Imagine having Windows Live Local or Google Maps on your mobile. You can get streets, satellite, or hybrid views. You can even mark starts and destinations to use as waypoints for directions.

: There are a few different IM apps for WM5, but Agile Mobile seems to be the best. All of them could use some work, but Agile lets you connect to AIM, ICQ, MSN, Yahoo, Jabber (XMPP), and Google all from your data plan instead of your SMS plan.

is free as in beer, so head on over and try it out.

Carrier MSRP OS-Edition WiFi QWERTY Touchscreen Weight Size
Motorola Q Verizon $199 (2 Year) WM-S No Yes – Face No 4.1 oz 4.6" x 2.5" x 0.45"
Treo 700w Verizon $399 (2 Year) WM-PPC No Yes – Face Yes 6 oz 4.4" x 2.3" x 0.9"
XV6700 Verizon $299 (2 Year) WM-PPC Yes Yes – Slide Out Yes 6.5 oz 5.2" x 2.32" x 0.93"
PPC-6700 Sprint $299 (2 Year) WM-PPC Yes Yes – Slide Out Yes 6.1 oz 4.25" x 2.3" x 1.0"
Treo 700wx Sprint $399 (2 Year) WM-PPC No Yes – Face Yes 6.4 oz 5.1" x 2.3" x 0.9"
Samsung IP-830w Sprint $599 (2 Year) WM-PPC No Yes – Face Yes 6.4 oz 4.52" x 2.29" x 0.96"
8125 PPC Cingular $249 (2 Year) WM-PPC Yes Yes – Slide Out Yes 5.3 oz 4.24" x 2.83" x 0.93"
3125 Smartphone Cingular $149 (2 Year) WM-S No No No 3.49 oz 3.88" x 2.02" x 0.64"
2125 Smartphone Cingular $99 (2 Year) WM-S No No No 3.74 oz 4.57" x 1.81" x 0.69"
Dash T-Mobile $199 (2 Year) WM-S Yes Yes – Face No 4.2 oz 4.4" x 2.5" x 0.5"
SDA T-Mobile $149 (2 Year) WM-S Yes No No 3.74 oz 4.53" x 1.82" x 0.69"
MDA T-Mobile $249 (2 Year) WM-PPC Yes Yes – Slide Out Yes 5.64 oz 4.29" x 2.28" x 0.93