Cingular "BlackJack" Mini-Review

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by Felldownthewell, Nov 25, 2006.

  1. Felldownthewell macrumors 65816

    Felldownthewell

    Joined:
    Feb 10, 2006
    Location:
    Portland
    #1
    Let me start off by saying that I know this is the mac buying advice section, but I also know that there are often threads of people asking advice on smartphones and the like, so I thought I would post this here so it would be in the most conveniant place for those looking for smartphone advice. If this section is innapproprate please move the thread. And now, the review:

    So today I was shopping in downtown with my friend and I stopped into the cingular store to oggle phones. 5 months ago I switched from verizon and got a free RAZR which I was happy with until I realized how awful the software was, how poor the call quality was, and how many RAZRs there actually are out there. Plus I use my phone for mostly text, and I really wanted a keyboard. Anyway, I stopped in and saw the new blackjack on display, and it looked pretty cool. A salesman started talking to me and after I told him I wasn't elligible for quite a while he told me he would see what he could do. Somehow he managed to wrangle me the upgrade price on the phone- $200 after rebate instead of $449. I told him I'd think about it, but that I was definatley interested. I decided to go for it, but realized I only had $200 in cash (I don't have a credit card or checks, or an ATM card...heh...maybe I should work on that). So I told him I would have to go get cash but would be back in two hours (had to go home to get it), or the next day if he went off duty. Well, he got this pained look on his face and went off to talk to his manager. When he came back he asked how much I had and I told him $200, and he said he would give me the phone for $200 and give m the mail in rebate, but I had to sign up for the $20 a month unlimited data plan, which I could cancel after 6 months. So I went for it.

    3G Data
    The blackjack's selling point is that it has 3g data, a new arrival to the US, at least in GSM form. I can tell you now from my ~5 hours of use that 3G is SPEEDY. Not as quick as a computer of course, but I would say it is much faster than my old PSP on 802.11b. All sites are viewable and it takes ~3-5 seconds for a page with several pictures and text entry boxes. A big plus. Also setting up my imap e-mail account took less than a minute and is working perfectly, which I totally didn't expect. Maybe I'm just software-jaded.

    Keyboard
    This is my first QWERTY phone, so getting used to the full set is more difficult than I would have thought coming from a computer. However as I pick it up I am getting quicker and quicker. The keys are rather small and a little cramped, however that does not hamper useability when regularly typing. It only becomes a slight problem when trying to do something like shift or caps lock. Then again I have monsterous hands, so that may just be a personal problem. There is also a scroll wheel for easy navigation which is pretty well placed, although I find the back button next to it difficult to push (it is very small).

    Software
    This phone is running Windows Mobile 5. We all hate windows, but I have to say, the phone is stable and quick, although I would not consider it "snappy." I don't love the interface, but it is without a doubt a step up from Moto's software. The GUI actually reminds me more of the blackberry UI than windows, which makes for a general plesant experiance.

    Camera
    Online reviews have said the camera performance is middling, but compared to my RAZR's vga shooter this thing is a Mark II 1Ds. The pictures it takes are vibrant and detailed, and the camera works quite well in low light situations (wheras the RAZR would crap out and the camera would die). Which brings me to the

    Screen
    My one hesitiation about buying was the screen- it is a bit small for a smartphone, especially when compared to the treo or the cingular 8525, however it is vibrant and BRIGHT. The resolution must be great, because the screen, while small, is just fun to look at, even at a low brightness. It is a bit inhibitive when it comes to reading long websites but if reading large text files is not somthing you do on your phone, then this screen is perfect.

    Final Impressions
    And one last thing. The Size. This thing is tiny. Maybe a tad thicker than the closed RAZR and the same thickness as my 5g 30gb ipod, it is quite light and fits easily in my pocket. It does have a rather irritating bulge at the top where the camera is, but I can certanly live with that. My other minor problem is that that unlocking the keypad takes a 3 button combo, but again, not major. I got a great deal and am very happy, and I hope this mini-review helped a bit. If you have any questions please ask away and I'll try to answer as best I can.

    PS. I haven't tried yet syncing with OS X or the windows partition on my MBP but I will update this over the weekend as I try different syncing options.

    EDIT: The device does not sync with OS X on its own. The missing sync has been suggested, but I will not be purchasing. Syncs perfectly through windows.

    EDIT 2: Pictures added (Post 28, page 2)
     
  2. runplaysleeprun macrumors 6502a

    runplaysleeprun

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2004
    Location:
    Chicago, IL
    #2

    Great review. How did syncing with OS X go? I want to use it to sync with my gmail and google calendar, working with isync a plus. I do like the look of this phone. I almost got a treo, but backed out because of some of their shortcomings. Thanks again.
     
  3. nospleen macrumors 68000

    nospleen

    Joined:
    Dec 8, 2002
    Location:
    Texas
    #3
    Nice review! I am on the fence deciding between this and a Treo 680. The 3g has almost help make up my mind.

    www.markspace.com sells a great syncing tool and it does work with the Blackjack.
     
  4. mr_matalino macrumors 6502a

    mr_matalino

    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2005
    #4
    Only $20 for unlimited data? Nice. Verizon wants about $50 for unlimited or $25 for 10MB...ripoff!!:mad:
     
  5. Deputy-Dawg macrumors member

    Joined:
    Aug 23, 2006
    #5
    I just got the BlackJack yesterday, and I would agree with most of what you say in your review. The major exception is the 3 button combo to unlock the keypad. I think is a definite feature and well though out. I drive a great deal in some of the work I do and am connect to my cell phone via a bluetooth headset. I working cell for the last year or so has been a Treo 650. Moving around in the car would turn the cell phone on, atleast for a moment and manage to enter all sorts of strange states because the keypad is not truly locked (the unlock is a one key negative option with about a 10 second turn around time. But the keypad is indeed unlocked during those 10 seconds. And like most keyboard cell phones the last IO is remembered until some action to dismiss it is done). So while the 3 button unlock is a bit of chore, I am sure that it will, in the long run, save my a lot of grief.

    As others have noted MissingSync from MarkSpace software is one heck of a fine program for Syncing the handset.
     
  6. twoodcc macrumors P6

    twoodcc

    Joined:
    Feb 3, 2005
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    #6
    thanks for the review. i'm actually thinking of getting that phone, but i want to wait and see the iphone first
     
  7. puckhead193 macrumors G3

    puckhead193

    Joined:
    May 25, 2004
    Location:
    NY
    #7
    uhmmmm interesting...i still can't decide between this and the 680
     
  8. Felldownthewell thread starter macrumors 65816

    Felldownthewell

    Joined:
    Feb 10, 2006
    Location:
    Portland
    #8
    It was a no go. Bluetooth and the phone recognized eachother and they connected, but no transfer servies were available :( . I switched over to my windows partition and installed active sync, and everything worked just fine, but its a pain in the arse to do that. Google agrees with the suggestions here for the missing sync, but since I don't need to sync that badly I'm not going to get it.

    Yah, it is more of a personal preferance thing, especially since I'm coming from a Kyocera SE47 (slider) and a RAZR; I've never used an unlock feature before. I've been minding it less and less as I get used to it.

    Thats exactly what I thought! However the guy offered me such a good deal I decided to go for it and see how this whole iPhone thing pans out. I got tired of waiting.
     
  9. puckhead193 macrumors G3

    puckhead193

    Joined:
    May 25, 2004
    Location:
    NY
    #9
    i went to cingular today to check both out... i'm torn between the 2....

    CIngular quoted me like $45 :confused:

    edit - can u changed the background on the home screen... i'm not a fan of it...
     
  10. nospleen macrumors 68000

    nospleen

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    Texas
  11. Felldownthewell thread starter macrumors 65816

    Felldownthewell

    Joined:
    Feb 10, 2006
    Location:
    Portland
    #11
    I guess it it really a choice between OSes. Palm, I hear, is better than windows, but when compared for things the like camera, data speed, and size, the BlackJack wins; although the 680 does have a better screen.

    Thats odd about the data...my plan apparently covers just internet- meaning text messageing, instant messaging, and using it as a modem are all extra- could an all-inclusive package be what they were quoting you?

    Oh, and yes, the wallpaper is changeable (assuming you mean the wallpaper on the main screen where the time/date/service etc is displayed)- mine is currently of the massive christmas tree in downtown Portland.

    Sure. I can't today, I'm just too tired (School, the photo class, then unexpectedly being called into work for the late shift, then homework), but I should be able to get to it tommorow 11pm ish (when I get off work), so keep an eye out for 'em then.
     
  12. bousozoku Moderator emeritus

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    #12
    Verizon charges you for 3g speed (Ev-DO), which is about 5 times as fast as what Cingular is giving you with EDGE
     
  13. puckhead193 macrumors G3

    puckhead193

    Joined:
    May 25, 2004
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    NY
    #13
    I think they said umlimited data which includes texting and IM and internet... i'm not sure the sales person was really non-knoweldgeble
     
  14. lmalave macrumors 68000

    lmalave

    Joined:
    Nov 8, 2002
    Location:
    Chinatown NYC
    #14
    I'm in the same boat. Except I'm with T-Mobile so if the iPhone dissapoints I will probably be getting a Blackberry Pearl or a T-Mobile Dash.
     
  15. Felldownthewell thread starter macrumors 65816

    Felldownthewell

    Joined:
    Feb 10, 2006
    Location:
    Portland
    #15
    Not anymore...the BlackJack is Cingular's 3rd 3G phone which uses UMTS and HSDPA (up to 1mbps), although outside of 3G service areas it switches back to edge/gprs

    Yah I'd try to find a good sales person or just check stuff out online, although what you can find in-stores and what it says online often conflict...this is one of the more annoying parts of buying a phone is that not a whole lot seems to match up.

    I hear the Dash is a really good phone, however it lacks the 3G (in fact, all of Tmobile lacks 3G), however I believe that it has WiFi which makes up for it.
     
  16. lmalave macrumors 68000

    lmalave

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    Nov 8, 2002
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    #16
    Heh, anyone know how easy it would be to switch to Cingular? I know phone numbers are supposed to be portable and all now, but is it a huge pain to actually make the switch?
     
  17. Felldownthewell thread starter macrumors 65816

    Felldownthewell

    Joined:
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    #17
    The hardest part is getting out of your contract with T-Mobile. If your contract is up then it is really easy; all you need is your account number and SIM card from your old phone, and they can transfer your phone number and all of your contacts that you have saved on the card.

    If you are still in a contract you will have to pay a hefty fine to get out of it, but after you are free from it switching is easy.

    When I switched from Verizon to Cingular it took me 20 minutes including the walk time from the Cingular Store to Verizon store and back to get my account number. They moved the numbers but since there are no SIM cards in CDMA phones I had to transfer the contacts manually, which is a pain, but you shouldn't have that problem.
     
  18. KipCoon macrumors regular

    KipCoon

    Joined:
    Aug 23, 2000
    Location:
    ATL
    #18
    Yea, Verizon really needs to rethink their data plans. I'm happy Cingular finally lowered their price, and now, I have a new toy to add to my Christmas wish list, which will most likely NOT get filled :p

    meaning there goes another chunk of my paycheck...
     
  19. Deputy-Dawg macrumors member

    Joined:
    Aug 23, 2006
    #19
    Assuming you have satisfied your contract to T-Mobile and you are willing to buy a new handset just walk into the Cingular store and do it. If have not satisfied your contract buying out will cost you about $175 plus (the plus depends on how punative your contract is can range from nothing to the full service fee for the un-satisfied portion of the contract. The $175 is the subsidy on your handset). If you do not want to buy a new handset you will have to get your exisiting handset, which is most likely subsidy locked to T-Mobile, unlocked. T-Mobile most likely will not and Cingular, by law, cannot. There are third party unlock services, but using them is like buying a pig in a poke. They have been known to convert a perfectly usuable handset into a rather light ugly paper weight.
     
  20. mr_matalino macrumors 6502a

    mr_matalino

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    Oct 14, 2005
    #20
    Serious. I would use it if it wasn't so expensive. The unlimited plan more than doubles my bill. I don't need my email/internet that bad...$20 would be tempting (for unlimited).
     
  21. bousozoku Moderator emeritus

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    #21
    I looked at the Cingular website's specifications for that device before I wrote that. Of course, I saw the specification somewhere else, but didn't see it at Cingular.
     
  22. Felldownthewell thread starter macrumors 65816

    Felldownthewell

    Joined:
    Feb 10, 2006
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    Portland
    #22
    (link)

    It may not being displaying it for you if you live in an area where there is no 3g coverage...?



    Oh, and to all the people asking about the data plan it looks like I'm using this one: SmartPhone Connect Unlimited w/ Xpress Mail
     
  23. lmalave macrumors 68000

    lmalave

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    Nov 8, 2002
    Location:
    Chinatown NYC
    #23
    Ok, sounds like I can do this then. My contract with T-Mobile expired in September. The only wrinkle is that I have a family plan so I have 2 phones to worry about (I have an unlocked Sony Ericsson, my mom has a Samsung which I assume is locked).

    Here's what I can probably do:

    1) Buy a phone from Cingular (e.g. Blackjack if the iPhone dissapoints), and have Cingular switch my phone number to that new phone
    2) Have Cingular switch my mom's phone number to my old, unlocked SonyEricsson phone, and give that phone to my mom.

    Excellent!!! What this means is that whether the iPhone launches on Cingular or T-Mobile (since iPhone will almost certainly be GSM), I will be able to get it.

    But actually, in all likelihood I will be sticking with T-Mobile. I have a feeling that the Apple iPhone will launch with T-Mobile. Cingular already has their own music service, whereas T-Mobile has nothing remotely like that (closest thing would be selling ringtones). Plus T-Mobile is launching 3G in 2007, and I have a feeling the iPhone will be THE phone that T-Mobile will be pushing to drive people to sign up for its data service.
     
  24. lmalave macrumors 68000

    lmalave

    Joined:
    Nov 8, 2002
    Location:
    Chinatown NYC
    #24
    Heh, you should try seeing if you can listen to streaming audio. Even on a crappy EDGE phone (the T-Mobile SDA), I was able to listen to very, very low quality steams (like 16 kbps). With 3G, you should be able to listen to all sorts of internet radio...
     
  25. bousozoku Moderator emeritus

    Joined:
    Jun 25, 2002
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    #25
    Sorry again. I apparently wasn't clear. I saw it the second time, but it was a bit confusing the way they put it on a separate line from the other data protocols, which were with the voice protocol. I think someone just didn't want to edit as much when they revised the information.

    I'm sure you're enjoying using the device, though, as it seems to be quite capable. The keyboard issues were mentioned elsewhere. I'm not sure why they put the dialing numbers where they did, but with my Samsung phone, I'm not seeing a lot of logic in their choices.

    I can tell you from 3G speeds on Sprint that streaming video and audio both work extremely well. Of course, on a 320x240 display at an average 400-700 Kbps, I'd hope so. The only bad thing is that they have several interesting channels and it might end up like cable t.v.
     

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