The Cingular 3125 appeals to the heart, not the brain. Its a great-looking flip phone that feels solid in the hand, plays MP3s, and syncs easily with Microsoft Outlook. Its design is so compelling that Im willing to overlook its lackluster smartphone performance.
The 3.8-ounce 3125 is the most striking smartphone ever. Its a long (3.9 by 2.1 by 0.7 inches) black flip phone with tapered ends and a very solid feel to its slim, grooved metal case. The grooves help the case repel fingerprints. The circular OLED display on the outside lights up elegantly, not aggressively, with an analog clock, caller ID, or an e-mail alert; it also works as a camera viewfinder. Flip open the phone to find an extremely handsome keypad made of one long piece of metal with large, flat keys; raised borders make it relatively easy to tell the keys apart.
As a phone, the 3125 fits firmly into the good-not-great category. In test mode, it showed noticeably weaker reception than the Cingular 2125, which has excellent reception. The earpiece gets quite loud, but I heard an occasional background hiss on calls. The speakerphone is loud enough for indoor or in-car, but not outdoor use. As with other Windows Mobile phones, you can use your own MP3s as ringtones.
The phone connected easily to a Motorola HT820 stereo headset, but there was a bit of hiss on Bluetooth calls. Talk time was terrific, at more than 13 hours (in part because the 3125 turns the screen off during long calls, and partly thanks to the relatively juicy 1,100-mAh battery)—but all the same, the 2125 did even better. Voice dialing is the old-fashioned recorded-tag type, and it works over Bluetooth.
Equipped with the same 195-MHz processor as in the T-Mobile SDA and Cingular 2125, the 3125 also has the same beautiful little 320-by-240 screen panel as the 2125. But opening applications and, especially, opening large documents, feels slower. That slowness also showed up in dialing; the 3125 would sometimes miss a keypress while it searched the phone book. (Cingular said the problem might have been in my slightly preproduction software.) And though the 3125 can handle playing music over stereo Bluetooth headphones, trying to play a video and pipe the sound through Bluetooth brought the phone to its knees, severely throttling the videos frame rate. The 45MB of program memory let me run a few programs at once without trouble.
The phone comes with the standard Windows Mobile Smartphone 5 productivity applications, including Microsoft Office and PDF readers (but not editors), Pocket Internet Explorer for Web browsing, and the new Direct Push e-mail for Exchange 2003 SP2 servers. Of course, you can always load Good Mobile Messaging for e-mail, or use POP3/IMAP mail (without Direct Push).