When it comes to smartphones, I’ve always preferred a candybar design to a clamshell. The Cingular 3125 has changed my mind a bit on this point, simply because it handles the work of a smartphone so well. Using the 3125 is more like using a standard wireless phone, and that’s a direction many users are glad to see the industry move. If you don’t need a QWERTY keyboard, the 3125 will work well for you.
The main screen is a 2.2-inch 64,000 color display. The display works well in sunlight, and I found it surprisingly readable in almost any lighting condition. Because the 3125 is a smartphone and not a Pocket PC Phone, the screen isn’t touch sensitive, so all input must be by way of the keypad, hardware buttons or an external input device like a Bluetooth keyboard.
HTC did a superior job designing the 3125’s keypad. There’s no clutter, no oddly-placed keys, and no too-smart-by-half layout choices that make using the keypad a headache. There are 10 number keys, along with # and * keys, which, of course, you would expect to see on any phone. Above the standard keys is a four-way nav-pad, an action button, Talk and End buttons, two soft-keys and Home and Back buttons. This uncluttered design makes dialing and navigating around the Windows Mobile software natural and largely free of guesswork.
Getting around the Windows Mobile for Smartphones OS is a bit more troublesome to navigate than Windows Mobile for Pocket PCs, but the Cingular 3125 does a good job of making navigation simpler than it could otherwise be. While there are no shortcut keys along either side of the bottom half of the 3125, there are several along the sides of the top half. On the side left of the main display is a shortcut button for the voice tag system; above that is a two-way rocker for volume control. To the right of the main screen is the camera button, which both activates the camera and acts as the shudder button. The addition of a second two-way scrolling rocker would have been a nice addition, but one which I am willing to live without on a smartphone.
With the Home and Back buttons on the main keypad, moving around the Windows Mobile OS is fairly manageable with one hand. I would have loved to see a back button on the right-side of the bottom half of the handset; such an addition would have made moving around the OS a bit more one-hand friendly.