Hands-on with the Pharos Traveler 137 running Windows Mobile 6.5

Summary:I posted some thoughts on the Pharos Traveler 137 back in June and at that time it was the first Windows Mobile device that supports the T-Mobile 3G wireless data network. We now have the T-Mobile HTC Touch Pro2 with keyboard available as an option for T-Mobile customers too. The Pharos Traveler 137 is one of those selected Windows Mobile phones that will soon be receiving a Windows Mobile 6.5 update and I was pleased to be able to try out this latest software implementation on the device.

I posted some thoughts on the Pharos Traveler 137 back in June and at that time it was the first Windows Mobile device that supports the T-Mobile 3G wireless data network. We now have the T-Mobile HTC Touch Pro2 with keyboard available as an option for T-Mobile customers too. The Pharos Traveler 137 is one of those selected Windows Mobile phones that will soon be receiving a Windows Mobile 6.5 update and I was pleased to be able to try out this latest software implementation on the device.

When you first turn on the Windows Mobile 6.5 updated Pharos Traveler 137 you will find a screen pop up that states the following will be installed on your device:

  1. Pharos Smart Navigator
  2. Pharos QuickGuide
  3. Spb TV
  4. Touch screen keyboard
  5. Pharos Mobile Shell

You are also prompted about where to install the apps (device or storage card) and the available capacity of the storage card. At launch the device storage is shown as 316.7 MB, which is awesome for a Windows Mobile device. After choosing to put the navigation software on the device I saw my first glimpse of Windows Mobile 6.5 with the rotating blue, red, green, and yellow rotating balls rather than the colored circle icon that used to appear during loading times.

Pharos customization

Pharos has a customized version of Spb Mobile Shell (version 3.0 at this time) that has been used since before Windows Mobile 6.5 and this is still included on the updated device. You can get to the new Windows Mobile Today screen, that looks very much like the sliding panels found on Windows Mobile 6.1 non-touchscreen smartphones and the Zune, by selecting Today from various screens or pressing the Home button on the 137 (also the End button).

Pressing the Start menu button now brings up the new "honeycomb" Start screen where all app shortcuts are shown as touchable icons. The current version of Windows Mobile 6.5 only lets you select an icon and move it to the top, but I understand a future update will allow you to place these wherever you like similar to the iPhone.

I did find the Traveler 137 a bit confusing at times though because once you launch Spb Shell/Home then pressing the Home button takes you into the custom Spb/Pharos Mobile Shell user interface and you can't get back into the default Windows Mobile 6.5 interface until you press the Today button. Spb/Pharos Mobile Shell is highly customizable, more so than the new WM 6.5 Start menu, so I recommend you use it all the time and just avoid tapping on Today.

Windows Mobile 6.5 on the device

I already detailed my take on the Windows Mobile 6.5 update so I won't go into it again here. WM 6.5 runs very well on the Traveler 137, but with Pharos Mobile Shell I don't see much need to use the Start or Today screens in the new OS update. The main reason at this time to perform the update is to get access to the Marketplace for Mobile and My Phone services along with the Lock screen capability. You will see some of the updated touch friendly menus on the upgraded device, but as previously mentioned there are still many areas with small menus that require a fingernail or stylus.

The Pharos Traveler 137 is a solid Windows Phone, but is is still priced quite high at $600 when there are more and more subsidized offerings from carriers. If you don't want to sign a new contract and want a touchscreen Windows Mobile device you may want to consider the Traveler 137.

Topics: Software, Hardware, Mobile OS, Mobility, Operating Systems, Wi-Fi, Windows

About

Matthew Miller started using a mobile devices in 1997 and has been writing news, reviews, and opinion pieces ever since. He is a co-host with GigaOM's Kevin Tofel on the MobileTechRoundup podcast and an author of three Wiley Companion series books. Matthew started using mobile devices with a US Robotics Pilot 1000 and has owned over 200 d... Full Bio

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