Smart Phone Doesnt Hang Up PDA Features

Kyocera's 7135 smart phone effectively combines a Palm OS handheld and a wireless CDMA handset in a form factor that's only a little larger than a standard cell phone.

Kyocera Wireless Corp.s 7135 smart phone is the latest and best in the companys line of Palm OS-driven PDA/cell phone hybrids from the company and the first Kyocera smart phone that could easily pass for a regular phone.

In eWeek Labs tests, it was this phonelike form factor that most impressed us. The previous two smart phones in the Kyocera clan looked like cell phones that had each swallowed whole a full-size personal digital assistant.

The 7135 has a clamshell design, like one of Motorola Corp.s flip phones; measures 3.97 inches long by 2.43 inches wide by 1.17 inches thick; and weighs 6.6 ounces. This makes it shorter and narrower —but a bit thicker and heavier—than Handspring Inc.s Treo smart phone.

For input, Kyocera chose not to go with a thumb keyboard like that of the Treo. The 7135, instead, offers a graffiti area and a standard phone keypad for data input, which enabled Kyocera to keep the device narrow and present users with the most phonelike face possible.

The 7135 runs Palm OS 4.1, for which a large variety of applications is available. While Palm OS 5 has begun shipping on devices from Sony Corp. and Palm Inc., its not certain that Palm OS 5 will displace Palm OS 3.x or 4.x during the 7135s lifetime, if it does at all.

The 7135, which is slated to ship before years end, should be priced around $499 to $599. (The wireless carriers that will market the device will set the price.) Kyocera has not yet announced its carrier relationships for the 7135, but Sprint Corp. currently markets the 6035, and its likely to offer the 7135 as well.

The 7135 is based on CDMA (Code Division Multiple Access) and can connect to the Internet at 2.5G-bps speeds on 1xRTT networks. In our tests with the unit, we experienced speeds right above what wed expect from a 56K-bps modem—plenty of juice for e-mail and light Web browsing.

For more involved Internet operations, on sites not designed for wireless devices, the units small display was much more of a limiting factor than was the connection speed.

The 7135s display is a standard 160-by-160-pixel, 65,000-color LCD, which is about the same size as those in Palms m100 series of devices. In our tests, the 7135s display shone brightly indoors and appeared washed out, but still legible, in direct sunlight.

Although the 7135 sets out to be a cell phone first, it doesnt sacrifice key PDA features, such as a peripheral expansion slot. The Kyocera device supports peripheral expansion through SD (Secure Digital) and MultiMedia cards, which can supplement the 7135s 16MB of built-in RAM.

However, the 7135s expansion card slot does not support SDIO (Secure Digital Input/Output), which is required for peripherals such as Toshiba America Inc.s Bluetooth SD card.

As a phone, the 7135 performs admirably, particularly when compared with other smart phones, such as Research In Motion Ltd.s 5810, which force the user to learn new phone habits, such as making all calls through a headset. The 7135 includes a headset jack but works just as well when held to the head like any typical phone.

The 7135 is powered by a lithium-ion battery, which, according to Kyocera officials, should yield 3.5 hours of talk time and 160 hours of standby time.

This sort of battery life is par for the course for mobile phones, but beware: You cant leave the 7135 sitting in a drawer for a few days at a time, as with typical handheld devices—youll end up with a completely battery-drained and memory-blanked device. The 7135 comes with a battery-charger cradle, which is where the 7135 should be left while not in use.

The 7135 ships with a typical smart-phone application set—there are Web browser and e-mail applications, as well as applications for sending Short Message Service messages and managing the 7135s phone-specific features.

The 7135 ships with applications for viewing images and for playing MP3s. We were pleased enough with the smart phones MP3 playing to countenance using it as our primary mobile MP3 player.

Technical Analyst Jason Brooks can be reached at