Back in early October we saw the release of Windows Mobile 6.5 and as you can see in my post I was rather disappointed with the release for several reasons. I had limited expectations since we all knew it was a minor point release, but I found it to have even less than what I had hoped for. As pointed out in my blog post I found that lack of customization on the Start page and Today screen and the requirement for a stylus in many utilities and menus, including simply creating a new appointment, to be the worst areas that should have been addressed in the update. Microsoft recently released Windows Mobile 6.5.3 to manufacturers and the fine folks at Pharos sent along a Pharos Traveler 137 (see my thoughts on 6.5 on the Traveler 137) loaded up with Windows Mobile 6.5.3. I captured the updated operating system in the video below.
Pharos worked with Spb Software House to create a customized version of Spb Mobile Shell on the Pharos Traveler 137 devices in the past, but with this 6.5.3 version of Windows Mobile you may find you do not even need this software and the review unit I have did not come with it loaded. Windows Mobile 6.5.3 will be provided soon to Traveler 137 owners as a free update so stay tuned for that.
As I showed in the video above, the following are my summary thoughts on Windows Mobile 6.5.3:
- Start page: You can now tap and hold and then move the application icons anywhere on the display. You cannot move them into folders or remove them from the Start page, but at least you can move them more places than just to the top.
- Lock screen: From what I can see, the Lock screen has not changed and I personally find the Lock screen to be quite helpful and functional so I didn't see a need for any changes here.
- Today screen: The Today screen has not changed from the earlier release, but it is still quite useful. I would like the ability to move the different panels up and down or even hide ones I never use and am not sure we will ever see this in a 6.5 release.
- Touch-optimized drop down lists and menus: Windows Mobile 6.5.3 fixes every single drop down list where I needed a stylus in 6.5 and adds some very functional menus and touch tabs across the top of different screens. I am very pleased that I can select times and switch my clock to 24 hour format with a finger.
- Notification bar: Similar to the way Google Android notifications work, you simply drag your finger down from the top to access a bar of notifications and common utilities (profiles, wireless manager, battery status, and more). I find this quite useful and functional.
- Zoom button: I do not remember seeing a zoom button on WM 6.5, but now when you pull down the notification bar you will find a magnifying glass in the top left corner. Tapping on this auto zooms the entire screen to a high level and then you can move the display around to access all parts of the screen. This can be quite helpful to those who are visually impaired and is very fluid.
- Bottom menu buttons: I have read that some find these bottom buttons to be poorly designed with the rather strange offset placement and basic design, but I personally do find them very helpful. You will also find easy to access buttons on the bottom that are context sensitive and change with the application that you have open at the time.
As I clearly showed in my video I also found the Pharos Traveler 137's resistive touch screen to be as responsive as a capacitive display and I was able to use the device fully with my finger tip and no finger nail at all. I did not expect the display to be that sensitive and was very pleased with this functionality.
Windows Mobile 6.5.3 is a very good update for Windows Mobile and I think if this is what we had seen in October there would have been a lot more positive press for the release. With good hardware, this release may satisfy Windows Mobile users, but I still think Microsoft needs to do a much better job with advertising and promoting the Windows Phone platform.