T-Mobile SDA with CoPilot Smartphone review

Price when reviewed
T-Mobile’s MDA packs a lot into a small space, but there are those who will consider even that too big. If it’s primarily a phone you’re after, the SDA smartphone will do much of what the MDA is capable of, even GPS navigation, but in a smaller, lighter and equally stylish format.

Specifications are the same as the Orange SPV C500, since they have common origins. Considering the 200MHz TI OMAP 730 processor runs the demanding CoPilot Smartphone navigation software satisfactorily, you can be assured there’s plenty of power to hand. Memory is 64MB of ROM, 32MB of RAM and a mini-SD slot for expansion pre-filled with a 256MB card for CoPilot data. To swap this you’ll need to remove the battery first, but at least it has 148MB free – enough for about 35 MP3 songs or 100 hi-res photos. On the back of the device there’s a camera for snaps up to 640 x 480 pixels and video clips to 176 x 144 pixels.

The phone is tri-band GSM with GPRS and WAP. There’s a USB sync/charge cable included, as well as infrared and Bluetooth. The car cradle is better than that of the MDA, and the power cable runs the phone and Bluetooth GPS receiver simultaneously.

The 176 x 144-pixel screen is a touch too small for full-on navigation, but you can rely on voice prompts while driving. Without a touchscreen, it’s awkward to use CoPilot as a static map though (without GPS), and it takes longer to navigate menus and enter addresses. The display is bright and easy to read, although it isn’t the sharpest we’ve seen.

Below the screen there are four menu buttons and a joystick control, which generally works well. Battery life isn’t a problem, and most users should get three or four days of use between charges.

T-Mobile’s SDA is a great smartphone: it isn’t much bigger than a standard phone, it has GPS navigation in this bundle, and you can have synchronised contacts and calendar with you everywhere. It’s limited in the applications it can run compared to the MDA, and it lacks a touchscreen. But for regular T-Mobile users after the lightest communication tool, the SDA is a fine choice.

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