Follow Up Q - What Mobile 5 Devices in Canada should I choose?

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I got a number of emails and comments on the evaluation forms asking for more information around what Windows Mobile 5 devices have I used and what do I recommend.  This is both an interesting and hard question to answer.  On the one hand – you can do a feature comparison and select a device that makes sense.  But then again – the phone is something that is very personal and the overall “feel and fit” has to be right:

  • Does the keyboard feel mushy?
  • Does the device have the right weight in your hand?
  • Did you choose the right form factor (Pocket-PC style or CandyBar smartphone)?
  • Does it have good accessories and cases that you can carry it in? 
  • Does the phone or the carrying case have a choice in colour (ok – my wife asked me that one)…

Maybe I am over analysing things a bit, but in my opinion – phones and mobile devices are a very personal things. I see them as statements of expression that the consumer decides when they make a purchase. This is a whole different conversation we can have at great length – some other time.

What I have heard a lot is something along the lines of an email I got from Bob Tichelman.
——
I attended the Exchange event in Vancouver.  It was great by the way.

I have the opportunity to re-evaluate my cell phone provider …  I am very interested in the UTStarcom 6700.  I have talked to a number of Telus staff and they know little or nothing about the phone and particularly the security patch that you mentioned.

If I can ask you three favours:
1) Can I please get the information about the security update (so that I can follow it up with Telus).
2) Is there a person that you can recommend that I talk to about this phone.
3) Provide any feedback on the phone and service before I make the investment.

—– 
First off – thanks goes out to TelusMobility who provided Damir and I with UTStarcom 6700 Windows Mobile 5 smartphones for the tour.  As I write this – they are currently the only CDMA provider of smartphones in Canada that run Windows Mobile 5. Bell and other CDMA carriers have the older 6600 which is based on the Pocket PC 2003 mobile edition (and is the current workhorse smartphone carried by most Microsoft Canada employees). The GOOD news is that most CDMA carriers should have more options within a month or so of now.  Which ones? I talked about them on the tour – UTStarcom 6700, Palm Treo 700, Motorola Q, HP 69?? to name a few. GSM based users from Rogers / Fido / Microcell have a larger selection, provided they purchase an unlocked phone from an online retailer like www.expansys.ca. Because I have only personally used the 6700 – I don’t have any other real world experiences to share with you at this time.  Hey – If any Mobile Operators out there are reading this blog entry and want to make a device available to me for evaluation and write up – feel free to contact me!

As for Bob’s specific questions:

1) The security update or better yet – the “Messaging and Security Feature Pack (MSFP)” otherwise known in techno geek lingo as the AKU 2 update (AKU stands for Adaptation Kit Update) is the “security update” you are talking about.  I have talked with my contacts in the Mobile and Embedded Devices group at Microsoft Canada in Mississauga to confirm that they will be letting me know when they find out from the mobile carriers what their plans are to undergo an update process.  From what I have been told – any Mobile 5 device you purchase today from a Mobile Operator will be able to be patched/upgraded to AKU2.  If  you purchase them from an online retailer – ensure you get assurance that you will qualify for an update as it is the retailer/OEM manufacturer’s option as to releasing the upgrade. As soon as I hear anything official – I WILL POST IT HERE FOR YOU!

Interestingly enough – the 3GSM World Congress 2006 is meeting in Spain this week and already the carriers in the states have stated their Mobile 5 devices will either come with or will be patched/updated to AKU 2 (http://www.coolsmartphone.com/news2148.html).  Don’t worry – Canada and it’s carriers should follow suit.   

2) As someone who has used the phone I was very reluctant to give it back – I can say that it is a great little phone! I was hooked on it instead of my older audiovox 6600 based on the PPC 2003 mobile edition OS.  Your best bet is to find a good TelusMobility rep who has used the phone or connect up with someone who owns one to get their experiences.

3) The phone and service that I used was great. Telus and Bell have strong signals where I live in Ottawa and also in all the cities I travel to. I particularly liked the EV-DO network for speeds when visiting Vancouver, Montreal and Toronto.  I hear there are plans to “light up” Halifax sometime around May and I have reports of EV-DO network access going up and down in Kanata / Ottawa as if they were testing tower strength or something.

I hope this helps. I mentioned the 3GSM congress in Spain going on this week. Rest assured – you will be hearing a lot around Mobile 5 and Microsoft based SmartPhones over the next while.

What’s your favourite phone form factor? Are you a “candybar” style Audiovox 5600? A calculator Audiovox 6600 or a flip phone?  Chances are there will be one of your type available in Canada in the near future! Post me a comment with your preference and opinion!

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  • Thanks for the info on AKU2.
    I have been trying to get the 'push' part to work with an exchange server running sp2.
    It does work, but only for one message, then it quits.
    No support is avaible for Telus (call Microsoft) UTStarcom (We don't support that) or Microsoft. (We don't suport OEM softwate, call Telus) The Telus tech support guy agreed with me when I suggested I should return the product.

    I am happy with the phone overall, but I need push for mobile dispatch purposes. It seems Blackberry still is the only choice,.

  • Hey Jim, Sorry to hear that you are getting the run around.
    If you have been following the posts around Mobile 5 in the Canadian market, Push email norification DOES NOT work as of yet, but will soon enough when Telus and other carriers finish their testing and come up with the updating procedures for getting the AKU 2 update out there.
    Unfortunately carrier support/sales staff aren't up to speed on what's required for an update since internal procedures have not been designed. Canada is a little more behind then the states and Europe for having AKU 2 based devices (requirement for Push to work). But trust me - we'll be there and the market will be there as well.
    I will be posting as soon as I can publically regarding patching information and process for each of the carriers in Canada.