Smartphones--especially the ones that run Windows Mobile--are often thought of as complex, difficult devices. The T-Mobile Shadow attempts to shed that image, as a full-featured Windows Mobile phone that's easy to use. The result is a device that may please smartphone newbies, but is likely to frustrate more advanced users.
The Shadow is actually an updated version of the original Shadow, which was released in 2007. The new model features a new look and the ability to make calls over Wi-Fi wireless networks in addition to cellular networks. It's available from T-Mobile for $150 after a $50 mail-in rebate.
The Shadow is a slider-style phone; when it’s closed, you see the 2.6-inch display, a few buttons, and the navigation wheel. The screen slides up to reveal a modified QWERTY keyboard. Like the keyboards found on the BlackBerry Pearl, this one features two letters on most keys, and the phone uses a predictive text system to guess what you're typing.
PROS: The smaller keyboard allows for a more compact phone, so the Shadow will easily slip into a pocket. It comes in either white/mint or black/burgundy. I tested the white/mint version, which is a refreshing change from many of the black and gray smartphones on the market today.
I also really liked the navigation wheel, which you can use to scroll through lists or down pages. It makes accessing the phone's features very easy--something that's not always the case with Windows Mobile phones.
CONS:The modified keyboard can be a challenge when you're typing. When the software can guess what you want to type, it works great. But when you're typing a word with an usual spelling--like my name--it often stumbles, making typing much more time consuming than it should be.
PROS: The Shadow's compact size and light weight make it very comfortable to hold during calls. Voice quality was good most of the time, but voices sometimes sounded hollow and not quite loud enough. In addition, the Shadow lets you make voice calls over Wi-Fi networks, in addition to over cellular networks. This allows you to make voice calls in places where you have a wireless network, but the cellular coverage is spotty.
CONS: Making voice calls over wireless networks can save you from using the voice minutes on your monthly plan, but it does require signing up for T-Mobile's Unlimited HotSpot Calling plan, which costs $10 per month.
Browsing the Web
PROS: The Shadow comes with Internet Explorer Mobile, which is easy to use and generally displays sites properly. You can zoom in and out on pages easily.
CONS:While the Shadow supports Wi-Fi networks, the same can't be said of T-Mobile's 3G HSDPA network. That means you'll need to rely on a wireless hotspot for speedy surfing.
PROS:You get support for Microsoft's Direct Push Technology, so you can sync the Shadow with your desktop Outlook account. You can also set the phone to access various POP3 and IMAP accounts, and it comes with a wizard that simplifies set-up for many common e-mail services, like AOL and Gmail. In addition, you get four consumer instant messaging apps (AIM, ICQ, Windows Live Messenger, and Yahoo Messenger) pre-loaded on the phone.
CONS:The e-mail interface is a little bland, but the biggest downside to the Shadow's messaging features is the keyboard--using it to type can be difficult.
PROS: The Shadow uses a nifty interface, which breaks the phone's applications into several categories, and then puts shortcuts to those categories on the Today screen. You can easily scroll through the categories to access its various apps. And you do get plenty of apps. The Shadow runs Windows Mobile 6.1, so you get a mobile version of Microsoft Office, a PDF readers, a voice recorder, a File Explorer, and more--and what you don't find on the phone, you'll likely be able to download, as there are tons of Windows Mobile apps available.
CONS: While the software selection is impressive, using it is less so. The Shadow's modified QWERTY keyboard can make typing very difficult--especially if you're working in a Microsoft Office file.
PROS: You get a decent 2-megapixel camera that's easy to use. It captures video clips, too. You also get a mobile version of Windows Media Player for playing back audio and video clips.
CONS:T-Mobile doesn't offer a music service, so you can't purchase songs and download them directly to the phone--you'll have to supply your own songs and transfer them over from your computer. [/p
In general, the Shadow's multimedia features are only so-so, which is too bad. This is a cute little phone that should have lots of appeal to people looking for a device they can use for both work and play. Unfortunately, neither its work nor play features are exceptional.