Treo 700p, still the best smartphone for Mac users

Finally an upgrade to the venerable Treo 650 that runs the Palm OS.


Back in November 2005 I wrote about the Treo 650 from palmOne and how it's the best smartphone for Mac users. Its successor, the Treo 700p, now inherits that crown.

The Palm OS is a much better smartphone solution for Mac users because the sync software is freely available from the manufacturer. The Windows Mobile 5-powered Treo 700w, on the other hand, requires third party sync software.

The Treo 700p from palmOne is a CDMA (Code Division Multiple Access) phone that will work on Verizon and Sprint networks. I have been testing the new EV-DO smartphone for a couple of weeks and wanted to share my observations.

First, the specifications:

  • EV-DO
  • 312MHz Intel XScale processor (same speed as the 650)
  • Palm OS 5.4.9
  • 1.3 megapixel digital camera (1280 x 1024 pixels)
  • 320 x 320 pixel display
  • SD (Secure Digital) slot supports up to 4GB cards
  • Bluetooth 1.2
  • 6.4-ounces, 5.08 x 2.28 x 0.89 inches

Battery life is slightly less than the Treo 650. Talk time is 4.5 hours (700p) vs. 5 hours (650) and standby time is 12 days (700p) vs. 12.5 days (650).


The 700p handset's shell and overall industrial design is slightly more rounded than the 650. The big difference in the 700p is the keyboard. It has been improved with larger square (as opposed to triangular) buttons and a slightly firmer feel.

It's much easier to type on the 700p keyboard if you have large fingers, but the numeric portion of the keyboard is still hard to see while driving. The 700p's larger Send and End buttons are more phone-like but it took me a while to get used to the re-arranged button layout. The menu button is now in the lower right corner.


Palm has stuck with their 5.4.9 OS (Garnet) on this handset and it remains to be seen if or when they'll ever release the mythical 6.0 OS (code-named Cobalt). The problem with Garnet is that it isn't multi-threaded. The Treo can only handle one task at a time, but will resume your data connection after ending a phone call, for example. The OS is not a huge deal for me though, there's a ton of great Palm apps out there (see my Top 11) for the Treo and Palm OS 5 is relatively solid.

The 700p also features personalized ring tones for various categories of callers and the ability to ignore a call with text messaging. Ignore with Text is a new clickable option when your receive a call. It allows you to send the call to voice mail and text the caller back with an SMS message. The Treo's threaded SMS view is as close as you can get to IM without bucking up for a dedicated IM application.

On the applications front, SMS is no longer a dedicated application, it has been rolled into Messages. The 700p now includes an music player application called Pocket Tunes Basic from NormSoft, Inc. Upgrading to Pocket Tunes Deluxe (US$27) allows you to play content from all music stores that use Microsoft's PlaysForSure/Janus technology.

Treo 700p ships with Palm's first built-in streaming application. The Treo 700p streams mobile content, such as live TV, movie clips and audio from radio stations, as well as training videos or company communications. It also ships with a new voice-memo application which can be used to create custom ring tones, add voice annotations to photos or to record a memo.

The Treo 700p's EV-DO (Evolution Data Optimized) data access is blazing fast (400-700 kbps data transfers) but I couldn't use it where I live (yet). Apparently I'm outside Verizon's Broadband Access network footprint. When not in EV-DO the 700p dumbs down to 1xRTT (~100 kbps).

I used the 700p's EV-DO several time in both Philadelphia, PA and Wilmington, DE and the performance is impressive. Pages pop into the browser and email downloads are zippy. The 700p is the first Treo Smartphone with Built-in Dial-up Networking (DUN) so that it can act as a modem for your laptop. I didn't have a chance to test the Bluetooth tethering features but several other people have. Sprint now has EV-DO coverage in 220 cities and Verizon has 180 cities.

To get EV-DO you must subscribe to ZVW's US$45/month data plan. The dial-up working (DUN) package costs an extra US$15 per month so it actually costs US$60 per month to get EV-DO on the handset and to use it as a modem for your laptop.

If you're a Mac user looking for a smartphone that syncs well with Mac OS X then the Treo is an excellent option. If you live inside Verizon's EV-DO footprint and need faster access you should opt for their US$60 per month Broadband Access service.


  • Fast EV-DO Internet access
  • 60MB of end-user storage
  • 1.3 megapixel camera
  • Better keyboard


  • EV-DO access only in large metros
  • High price of data services
  • No GSM version
  • High price (US$399 w/2 year contract)
  • No WiFi

The Treo 700p is available from both Sprint and Verizon.