As I mentioned in a post I made in August, I left Qwest Wireless several years ago to move to T-Mobile with their more powerful smartphone devices and more extensive national network. Since that time Qwest has partnered with Sprint to provide nationwide coverage. They have also expanded their device lineup and just recently launched two powerful Windows Mobile devices, the Qwest Fusion and HTC Mogul. Actually, Qwest was the first in the U.S. to launch the Fusion (aka HTC Libra) device. I was sent a Qwest Fusion HTC 5800 device to check out for a couple of weeks and while I am not ready to switch back to Qwest, if I was with them I would be fairly happy with the latest offerings.
There has been some confusion about the HTC Libra device starting with some information that was posted last September that indicated the device was a Phone Edition/Professional device. The product image up on Qwest is still incorrect and showing a Phone Edition as well, so it is completely understandable why consumers and enthusiasts may be a bit confused. I can confirm that the Qwest Fusion is indeed a non-touch screen Windows Mobile 6 Smartphone so let's start off by finally getting the facts straight.
|Image Gallery: Check out product photos of the Qwest Fusion Windows Mobile Smartphone.|
Specs: The Qwest Fusion HTC 5800 is a Windows Mobile 6 Standard (Smartphone) device with specifications that include a Qualcomm MSM 7500 400 MHz processor, EV-DO CDMA wireless radio, 2.4 inch, 65k color non-touch screen display, 128 MB ROM/64 MB RAM, 2 megapixel camera, Bluetooth 1.2 radio with A2DP support, microSD card expansion slot, and slide-out QWERTY keyboard. Note that there is no WiFi radio in the Fusion, but with a good signal and EV-DO support I don't think WiFi will be that much of an issue for a Standard device.
Box contents: The retail box contains the Qwest Fusion, 1050 mAh Lithium battery, AC adapter, USB sync cable, leather carrying case, Quick Start Guide, Getting Started Disc, and two splitter adapters. The case is a decent model with magnetic clasp and slip belt clip with an HTC engraved emblem. The two splitters are interesting accessories I haven't seen included before. One splitter has a female mini-USB connector and one HTC/mini-USB connector so you could both charge/sync your device and listen to music with a wired headset with the other connection. The other splitter has a mini-USB connection and a standard 2.5mm headset jack in case you have a headset you want to use.
Hardware: I opened up the retail packaging and found that the device was less like the HTC Vox than I thought it would be. The Qwest Fusion feels lighter in your hand (actually 4.2 ounces vs 4.94 ounces), has a faster processor (400 MHz vs 201 MHz), does not have WiFi, and has a slightly different keyboard design. Unlike many devices, the microSD slot is not found under the battery. It is located on the left side of the front and is open. This concerns me a bit because I would hate for my 2GB microSD card to accidentally fall out. The back cover has small ridges and is removed by sliding a small switch.
The device syncs and charges via a mini-USB port and I personally give bonus points for manufacturers who standardize with this connection method. Unfortunately, this is also the port that is used for the headset jack so you can't use your standard headphones or wired phone headset. You can use a set of Bluetooth stereo headphones since the Fusion supports the A2DP profile. I listened to my Yahoo! Music with the Cardo S-2 headphones and it worked very well.
The QWERTY keyboard follows along most of the same standard design features of the new HTC line with the Caps and Fn indicator lights, bright keyboard backlight, flat keys, number keys laid out in phone keypad arrangement, and smooth slider mechanism. The keys on the Fusion are not all the same size and some are arranged a bit differently than you may expect. There are directional arrows and a couple of shortcut keys (Messaging and Internet Explorer).
Software: One aspect of the Fusion that I was happy to see from Qwest was the lack of additional, carrier-customized software and utilities. I am not a fan of letting carriers consume all of my memory with applications they think I need and prefer to have all the basics and then load up what I want on the device. The Fusion does come with
Conclusion and pricing: I like the dual keypad/QWERTY keyboard design of these HTC devices and think the US$199.99 price (after activation) is a good deal for this Windows Mobile Smartphone. If you are a Qwest customer or are looking for a Qwest device then I recommend you check it out. The HTC Mogul includes an integrated WiFi radio and is also a touch-screen Professional/Phone Edition device. The HTC Mogul is available for US$299.99 after activation with a service contract.
Qwest uses the Sprint Power Vision network, but it looks like their pricing is more than Sprint and seems a bit high to me, considering I pay US$20/month for unlimited data with T-Mobile. Data ranges from US$19.99/month for 35MB up to US$39.99/month for 100MB.