Cingular 8525 Upgrade Guide: Should You Switch to the Best Windows Mobile Phone?

This image was lost some time after publication, but you can still view it here.
This image was lost some time after publication, but you can still view it here.

For our money, the Cingular 8525 Windows Mobile Pocket PC phone is the best Windows Mobile phone out right now. It's pretty much universally agreed—by the Frankenreviewer—to be an all around monster of a communications device. If you're using a basic cellphone like the RAZR, we can definitely say it's worthwhile to upgrade.


However, as a Gizmodo reader, you've probably already got a mobile that can browse the internet, send email, chat on IM or act as a PDA. The choice isn't quite so simple. That's why we're here.

Like we said, if you're currently using a regular phone like the RAZR or the Chocolate, and you're at all interested in smartphones, you should definitely upgrade to the 8525. The combination of Windows Mobile, WiFi, 3G (if you're on Cingular), slide-out keyboard, sexy finish (for a smartphone), and various multimedia capabilities make it like a miniature laptop you can pull out at any time.

But if you're the current owner of a...

T-Mobile Sidekick: Upgrade. Although you lose some advanced IM-functionality and the Sidekick-specific functions, you gain much more in terms of apps and features like WiFi and 3G. However, you do gain apps such as Skype, Windows Live Search, Google Maps, pPod (fake iPod), and even an NES game emulator. Plus, as a 31-year-old businessman, you do look a little silly using that Sidekick.

Palm 650/680/700: Upgrade if you're not tied to Palm-only apps. You do lose threaded SMS, Versamail (mail app), and blazer (browsing app), but you get better syncing with Windows and Macs (with Missing Sync). You give up years of Palm OS apps, but you pick up WiFi, a nicer keyboard, and 3G. It's a tradeoff, but we think it's worth it for most people that aren't totally Palm fans.


Motorola Q, or WM Smartphone Edition: Upgrade if you don't mind the size. You definitely get more in terms of functionality when you switch up to a phone that runs the PPC version of Windows Mobile. Not only do you have more processing power, touch-screen, and access to Mobile Office apps, you have a larger, more easy to use keyboard. Add to that a bunch of apps that don't run on Smartphone edition, you're set to be more productive than ever. That is, if you can stand the bulge in your pants.

This image was lost some time after publication, but you can still view it here.
This image was lost some time after publication, but you can still view it here.

T-Mobile MDA, Verizon/Sprint 6700, Cingular 8125: Upgrade if you can afford it. This is where it gets both tricky and interesting. The 8525 runs the same OS as its predecessors—also known as the HTC Wizard—and thus, have all the same apps and can do pretty much the same things. They all have WiFi, a slide-out keyboard, and touch-screen capabilities. So why would you upgrade? Because it's what the old version should have been.

The 8525 looks better than any of its predecessors. Compared to my old MDA, it's thinner, sleeker, sexier, and has a beautiful texture to its finish. There are extra buttons on the front for "OK" and "Windows" button, and the added "OK" buttons on the side definitely helps. But the major exterior improvement is the scroller. This makes it easy for you to scroll through menu options, something that was tedious with the clickpad before. It also serves as a great volume control—much better than the volume buttons before.


On the interior, there's the faster processor which makes everything, including Skype and web browsing, much smoother. The 2-megapixel camera is nice, but it's missing the front camera for video calling. However, the 3G is still intact, and if you spring for Cingular's HSDPA net, you get pretty speedy mobile access. Everything's just better, faster, and cleaner about this phone compared to the one you've been using. If you want to put it off because you want to save up some cash for say, a PlayStation 3, that's perfectly valid. But if you can spare the coin and really enjoy having the best WM device of this form factor, we definitely recommend the 8525.

Product Page [Cingular]



Sean Harrington

I agree.

I love the 2125 I got six months ago, but the 8525 is definitely the high water mark for WM5 functionality. I played with a friend's demonstration 8525 for a few hours, and I now I have serious envy.

If I could swing the cash for it, I would, but the $500-ish price tag on eBay is keeping me away.

Also, if you think the NES emulator rules, try PocketMAME!

Yeah, I know a lot of people harbor perpetual anti-Microsoft sentiment, but WM5 is pretty damned solid, and, as with XP, there's BOODLES of software out there for it, and more coming everyday.

- Sean