T-Mobile Dash 3G – Hands On

One of my favorite smartphones of all time was T-Mobile Dash. Based on Based on HTC’s Excaliber design, at the time, the Dash managed to make the Moto Q feel clunky in contrast. The Dash wasn’t just pocket size, it was shirt pocket size. Even the finish broke new ground with a finish a soft matte texture that gave it a great feeling of carresability. As great as the Dash was, it was aging as a device. Even though many smartphone enthusiasts loved it, there was no support for 3G and even though it remained a solid smartphone choice, it was clearly time for an update and finally HTC came through. Earlier this year, HTC showed off what was clearly the heir to the Dash, the Snap. T-Mobile has picked that device up and it’s called appropriately enough, the Dash 3G.

At a time when most devices are attempting to mimic the iPhone with touch screens, the Dash is based on the Windows Mobile smartphone platform. There’s no touch screen, all navigation is done with the new trackball and there’s a real physical keyboard. All in a super slim package that’s still shirt pocket size.

I’ve been carrying a unit for a few weeks now and it’s a great mobile email client. The keys have been improved and there’s great tactile feel, the backlight and screen are top notch. This build of Windows Mobile includes the new version of IE and T-Mobile also adds in IM support for AIM, Yahoo and ICQ in addition to MSN mobile. Of course, there’s 3G support in addition to WiFi along with integrated GPS. There’s also HTC software that replaces the stock WinMo apps for camera and photo album. Both work much better than.

Battery life is superb, this is one of the few WM devices that I can leave push email on and and last through a heavy day of use and still be small enough to go in my shirt pocket. Most folks will easily get through two normal days. Dash 3G is also wicked fast and responsive thanks to a new processor.

The Dash 3G skips the trend of micro USB connectors and retains a standard mini usb jack which supports charging. Alas, there’s no standard audio headphone jack. Oddly, there’s no support for T-Mobile’s Hotspot@home services (although there’s mention of it in the help file, T-Mobile’s Shadow II supports the service on the same Windows Mobile Platform)

Lastly, in a world that’s now very focused on mobile apps as an out of box experience, devices like the Dash 3G underscore the issues that MSFT has had in showcasing available apps for the platform. Sure, there’s plenty of stuff out there if you know where to find and purchase them but this device really needs access to the apps store.

Bottom line? The Dash 3G is a great unit and it has the chance to really take Windows Mobile to a greater mass market if it’s marketed properly. More than a few fellow travelers in recent weeks have asked what device I was using and the cool 20 something waiter in the coffee shop told me it was the coolest phone he’d ever seen, iPhone included. For those who don’t want a touch screen, are looking for a physical keyboard and don’t mind having to hunt down third party apps, the 3G is highly recommended. Nicely done HTC. Nicely done.

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