Smartphone packs a lot into tiny package


Beyond its interface, the 8525 is, without question, a very solid Windows Mobile smart phone. Besides running a whole host of applications developed for that operating system, it's a Swiss Army knife of communications, with support for Wi-Fi (both 802.11a and g), Bluetooth and Cingular's 3G network. It can serve as a 3G modem for laptops using either a cable or Bluetooth.

Setting up the Wi-Fi connection was painless, even with WPA security enabled. The biggest benefit to Wi-Fi on a smart phone is that it allows connections when 3G coverage is poor, which typically is the case once you get out of major cities. It also means that when you have Wi-Fi access, you can use a voice-over-IP service like Skype to make calls instead of spending your talk time minutes.

On the downside, I was a bit peeved with Cingular's Xpress Mail for desktop mail syncing. I've become addicted to Verizon Communications Inc.'s Wireless Sync, which keeps my mail, contacts and calendar in sync automatically, even though I don't have an Exchange server. However, Cingular's software can only perform those tasks if you run some server-based corporate software such as Microsoft Exchange or Lotus Notes. You can read your mail without such a system, but that's about it. To sync contacts, you must perform a standard sync with your desktop computer.

Powerful and media-ready

With a 400-MHz processor, the Cingular 8525 has plenty of horsepower. There's also 64MB of RAM, with 51MB available to the user. On a fresh start-up with nothing running, I saw nearly 31MB of memory free. Depending on applications, this is a big advantage over my Treo 700w, which can have as little as 16MB free after start-up.