First Impressions of the Kyocera 7135 Smartphone

By Barton Gellman

I spent about an hour with a Kyocera 7135 yesterday morning at TechX NY. I found a lot to like and very little not to like. If it holds up to real-world testing, this is easily going to be the strongest offering, for my money, to hit the market this year. I won't repeat the published specs. Here's what I learned that was new, along with my subjective impressions.

To fill the biggest gap in the official marketing pitch, which speaks only of a "high resolution" screen: it is a standard 160 x 160 color screen -- identical in size, 2.5 in. on the diagonal -- to the Kyocera 6035. That said, it is a very bright, well-saturated color transreflective screen. 16-bit, 65,000 colors.

Without doing precise measurement, I'd say it is indistinguishable from the Palm m130 screen in brightness, sharpness and size. In indoor lighting, it is terrific. I took it to the great glass atrium of the Javits Center, which gets a lot of filtered sun, and it was also quite readable. Outside in direct 11 am sunlight, it washed out pretty badly. There, and only there, my Kyocera 6035 had a strong edge.

Another gap: the processor is a Dragonball VZ running 33 Mhz. It has 16 MB of RAM.

The operating system, as published, is Kyocera's heavily tweaked Palm OS 4.1. It will never run OS 5, nor does it need to as it does not run on an ARM chip.

The hardware has a solid, precision feel, very comfortable in the hand. It's injection-molded plastic with a brushed aluminum swoosh on the front with the Kyocera logo. The Kyocera PR guy said the hinges feel like a Mercedes car door. I don't know about that, but it is a very well made piece of iron. The flip has a lock-open position but holds stably at any angle you choose.

Mobile Phone
Kyocera is not in a position to announce carriers, but sources tell me Sprint and Verizon, among other smaller vendors, will sell it. Likely retail: $499.

Kyocera considers the phone to meet 3G standards, with immediate support for Verizon Express at up to 153 kbp/s. It will support Sprint's forthcoming high speed data.

The LCD at the top is indeed for Caller ID. It will display the name of the caller, as the main screen does, if the caller is in your Address book. When no call comes in, the LCD is always on, showing battery and signal strength and the time.

A new feature: you can optionally set the flip cover to answer and hang up the phone.

Speakerphone, voice activated dialing work like the 6035's. The voice memo may -- this was a point of uncertainty in the booth -- be able to write to the SD card. If so it would allow much longer voice memos.

Because it is GPS ready, it will take immediate advantage of Enhanced 911 services when they roll out. Commercial location-based services will also be supported, but no carrier appears to be close to announcing one.

The phone will come with an earbud/mike. The optional stereo earbuds also have a mike -- they're used for MP3 music and phone talk as well.

The battery is user-replaceable on the road, which Kyocera holds out as a major advantage over the competition. The battery life of 3.5 hours talk and 150 hours standby, loses something to the world champion Kyocera 6035's respective ratings of 5 hours and 180 hours.

MP3 Player
I tried the MP3 player with the optional stereo earbuds. It sounded good but not as good as my Nomad II. Even in a noisy conference hall, it was capable of painful loudness at top volume. The Kyocera booth had external speakers plugged into a demo unit, with a polished multimedia presentation running on the 7135, and the sound was remarkable.

Rick Goetter, marketing director for the 7135, said he has used the MP3 for 4.5 hours, with telephone off, and still had half his battery left. I find that remarkable if it holds up.

There is a proprietary Jukebox app, which toggles instantly with a Playlist app. There's a separate Downloader used in the cradle for transferring MP3s from your Desktop. This is controlled from the Palm, not through HotSync.

SD Slot
The 7135 has an memory card slot on its right side. This can use both SD and MMC cards. It supports SDIO, which means that it can use non-memory Input/Output cards, like Palm's Bluetooth SD card.

It comes with File Manager, an app which gives hierarchical folder/file access to the SD card and the 16 MB of native memory. I own a 128 MB SD card, and Goetter said the 7135 will have no trouble addressing that. The File Manager supports copy, move, delete. I can't recall whether it supports rename or beam.

The jog dial of the 6035 is gone. In its place are up and down buttons that control only phone volume. There will be an SDK released with the phone, without delay, but it's not clear whether it is capable of addressing these buttons for Palm OS functions.

What replaces the jog dial is an OK button in the center of the Palm OS up/down rocker (at center between the four standard hardware buttons). So you can scroll down through the address book, for example, then push the OK button for choice of numbers to dial. I liked it.

Kyocera has taken advantage of a design that makes the 7135's phone keypad available during Palm OS operations (with flip open) -- as the 6035's was not.

So: the phone's hardware keypad can be used for text search and text entry. With the Address Book open, pressing phone keys runs "predictive search" algorithms similar to those used in the terrific TakePhone software product. Pressing 4355, for instance, will bring up people named Gellman in my Address Book.

The phone keys can also be employed, perhaps less usefully in my view, for text entry in standard Palm apps such as the Memo Pad. In this case, though, the text is not predictive -- you press 2 for A, 22 for B, 222 for C; then 3 for D, 33 for E and so on. There is a SPACE key, and CLEAR works as backspace.

Oddly it is quite difficult to use the phone keys to enter numbers in the Memo Pad. The # button will put the keypad into numeric mode, so that pressing 2 gives you a 2 instead of an A, but it drops out after a pause of well under a second. I found it impossible to enter a whole phone number that way, which was a pity.

Goetter said they considered a Blackberry style keyboard, and he couldn't comment on whether it might come later. He did note that Kyocera is a phone-centric company.

It ships with Eudora 2.1.1, the current version on the 6035. Each carrier will decide on an HTML browser. It also ships standard with Open Wave's WAP browser. It appears that it will ship with Workstyle's Palm client for MS Exchange or Lotus Notes email. This, the Workstyle folks told me, will cost $70/year for an individual license. It will also ship with no-extra-charge support for Palm web clipping apps, as did the 6035.

The pre-release software supports two-way SMS, which didn't come until later versions in the 6035. Beta units were running on Verizon networks at the show.

Another bundled app is PhotoSuite, which has native support for JPG, TIFF, BMP and TNG. Also plays AVI and MOV video, but I did not get to preview that. The photos looked good enough to bother carrying, which they didn't on the 6035, but certainly no match for Sony's hi-res screens.

The HotSync cradle improves on the 6035's excellent design. It allows the AC charger to be detached for travel. The improvement: the cable terminates in a serial AND a USB connector.

The Stowaway keyboard will be available immediately on release. For those who bought the 6035 version -- good news. You'll need only a new cable. There will be no cradle required for the keyboard with the 7135, so there's less to carry. The compromise this time is that the phone is simply laid on the table, and you adjust the screen angle to suit you. I did not get to try it but it seemed likely to work pretty well. The disadvantage will be in really confined spaces, like an Amtrak tray table.

The Competition
I asked Goetter for his points of comparison with the competition. He named: tri-mode phone (for more coverage), expansion slot, user-replaceable battery, MP3, and 65k color screen. He acknowledged his phone is an ounce heavier and a bit thicker than the Treo.

The phone will be available in Q4. Goetter said "November, maybe earlier." For Q4, it doesn't get earlier than October.

Kyocera is offering direct sales to retail and corporate clients, bundled with carrier service. No announcement of which carrier.

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GSM again...

mtg101 @ 6/26/2002 8:55:29 AM #
Very nice. Now can we have a GSM one so the rest of the world can get one? Or don't Kyocera want our money?

RE: GSM again...
I.M. Anonymous @ 6/26/2002 9:38:46 AM #
Oh come on. You guys (GSM) get almost every cool phone on the market. In the US we're usually stuck with all the castrated versions of the same phones that are just so cool in their GSM incarnation.

I don't quite understand why it's so hard to release for all networks, but really, you have nothing to complain about.

RE: GSM again...
I.M. Anonymous @ 6/26/2002 11:14:56 AM #
I was thinking the same thing, also in Europe so I need GSM, I currently have a Treo but I would drop it in a second for one of these or the samsung shown a couple of days ago.
RE: GSM again...
I.M. Anonymous @ 6/26/2002 3:18:14 PM #
GSM is the best in the World . I cannot anderstend ,
how come GSM is not popular in America .
RE: GSM again...
I.M. Anonymous @ 6/26/2002 4:00:11 PM #
>>GSM is the best in the World . I cannot anderstend ,
how come GSM is not popular in America .<<

Simply, because it's been mismanaged. After being forced into a different part of the spectrum from the Eurasian version, the only nationwide carrier, VoiceStream, never bothered to build out the network to provide the coverage of the CDMA carriers. Now that AT&T and Cingular are converting to GSM (for 3G services), GSM's plight in the US will likely improve.

RE: GSM again...
I.M. Anonymous @ 6/26/2002 4:12:24 PM #
VoiceStream isn't the only nationwide carrier, it was just the only one that went coast to coast first.

Cingular (granted Cingular is not really one company) has GSM coverage on both coasts, just not over all their network. VoiceStream doesn't even service my state at all, so it's not like pervasiveness is a criteria for defining "nationwide"....

RE: GSM again...
I.M. Anonymous @ 6/26/2002 5:27:29 PM #
how can anyone complain about 153 kbp/s downloads and gps support? CDMA rules
RE: GSM again...
I.M. Anonymous @ 6/27/2002 12:43:08 AM #
no way will kyocera make a GSM phone after they bought qualcomms phone business...


RE: GSM again...
I.M. Anonymous @ 6/27/2002 2:16:36 AM #

So basically they are screwed ..... CDMA is like acient history in most places except maybe China and US.

RE: GSM again...
I.M. Anonymous @ 6/27/2002 4:36:38 AM #
ALL the US unlike GSM. And Japan and South Korea (where CDMA is king) and many other countries around the world. It's also a much better technology with faster downloading speeds.
RE: GSM again...
I.M. Anonymous @ 6/27/2002 10:40:55 AM #
"So basically they are screwed ..... CDMA is like acient history in most places except maybe China and US."

Heheheh. Like the US isn't the most important market in the world. Where are you from, like The NETHERLANDS or something?

There's a good reason the USA is arrogant. Silly little Euro-Australia-etc wannabes...

RE: GSM again...
I.M. Anonymous @ 7/3/2002 3:29:42 PM #
Actually, as I understand it, the EU and elsewhere demure to use CDMA because of the cost of paying Qualcomm for it. They've tried to introduce their own spread-spectrum alternative, but Qualcomm's international patents are so broad (with more applications all the time) that they haven't been able to do this without infringing on them, so they ended up with a compromise called W-CDMA, which is kind of a GSM network with a CMDA carrier. I don't know what the deployment of W-CDMA is. However, there can be no more efficient use of spectrum than CDMA or some derivative thereof, so it's bound to win in the end.

Kyocera has not introduced a GSM phone to this point. However, they did have some initial commitment to use only Qualcomm chipsets in the purchase agreement, which I believe has expired, so this may change soon.

RE: GSM again...
I.M. Anonymous @ 7/5/2002 5:12:38 PM #
CDMA2000 is going to be used for the next generation of GSM, so saying that CDMA is ancient history seems rather silly.

GPRS is a transitional piece GSM carriers are tacking onto current TDMA based GSM systems to make data transfer rates of GSM competitive with CDMA's packet based technology.

RE: GSM again...
I.M. Anonymous @ 7/7/2002 9:59:12 AM #
Retards only get to use Treos.
RE: GSM again...
I.M. Anonymous @ 8/17/2002 8:12:29 PM #
I have just travled through several port cities (NYC, St. John,NB, Candada, and, Halifax,NS, Canada) and since I use CDMA (mind you, I don't have wireless web) and I will say this. GSM may be a world phone, but CDMA is still the best. This said, because I get a full Five bars signal in Halifax, versus onlly 1 to 3 bars where I livve. I am saying that CDMA will eventally be better than GSM and be the true world phone.
-Joey from New Jersey
RE: GSM again...
TapPadGuy @ 9/23/2002 1:54:13 PM #
Signal strength is dependent on network/tower coverage, not the quality of GSM vs. CDMA. GSM is sure to win out in the end IMHO because it is a world standard, and virtually all US carriers are now converting to it. I'm sure CDMA will be around for quite a while, but GSM/GPRS networks are expanding rapidly. Hopefully GPRS data usage will be integrated into minutes used rather then amount of data transferred as CDMA does. How does this work overseas? Is data usage billed separately from voice as it is in the US?

RE: GSM again...
AZPalm @ 10/15/2002 4:30:32 PM #
Anyone who thinks that GSM is a better technology than CDMA obviously doesn't know what they are talking about.

It is widely understood that CDMA gives better signal quality and more calls/spectrum than GSM. This is cheaper for the carrier and therefore cheaper for the customer.

The only reason GSM is so widely used around the world is because the socialist governments of Europe forced an early standardization on this inferior technology.

Now, carriers in Europe are paying the price because the migration path from GSM to 3G is very expensive and will require large capital expenditures to completely replace all transmitters. W-CDMA (aka UMTS) is the 3G version of GSM. GPRS is the 2.5G step between GSM and W-CDMA.

CDMA carriers have a much less expensive migration path to 2.5G and 3G. CDMA2000 (and CDMA2000 1X, -1X EV-DO, etc.) will not require the massive changes to the infrastructure and are also backwards compatible with 2G (GSM/GPRS/W-CDMA is not).

ALs, since most handsets now are made in Korea and Japan, and Korea and Japan are going to CDMA2000, there are more CDMA2000 handsets available than W-CDMA handsets.

Therefore, CDMA carriers will have to spend less money to implement the 3G systems, will be able to roll it out much sooner, have more handsets available for their customers, and will start having 3G revenue come in much quicker. The safe bet is that CDMA2000 will win out in the end.

But the Socialist European governments may bail out the bankrupt GSM carriers rather than let the market decide, so there are no sure bets.

See if you have any questions.

RE: GSM again...
moko @ 11/4/2002 10:47:05 AM #
Soon GSM users will be able to utilise CDMA/TDMA networks. I believe this will work for all you CDMA users too.

So you see, our 'Socialist Governments???' may have hit the mark after all.

RE: GSM again...
Guy @ 11/12/2002 4:27:16 AM #

I'm from Slovenia (Europe) and we have the GSM standard. I'm not interested in which standard is better. I'd only want to know if you think that Kyocera will make a 7135 compatible with our standard or not.
Thanks for the answer.

''high rez'' let down!

I.M. Anonymous @ 6/26/2002 9:41:09 AM #
Too bad it's not 320x320... that would have been really amazing. That and a thumboard... Maybe SonyEricsson will think something up for GSM/GPRS/EDGE
RE: ''high rez'' let down!
Scott R @ 6/26/2002 10:04:28 AM #
Yes, disappointing, but it doesn't surprise me. I had suspected that "hi-res" to them meant "higher res than a normal cell phone". Still, it sounds very nice. I'd have to reserve final judgement till I've seen it, but I like the sounds of it better than my Samsung i300.


RE: ''high rez'' let down!
I.M. Anonymous @ 6/26/2002 3:03:59 PM #
I'll put up with 160x160 for some extra battery life any day!
RE: ''high rez'' let down!
I.M. Anonymous @ 6/26/2002 5:28:44 PM #
the other option would be "yet another hi-res API" that will become obsolete when PalmOS 5 devices arrive. Remember, there are now 4 hi-res implementations: Handera, Sony hi-res, Sony hi-res + (on the NR series) and the hi-res on the samsung phone
RE: ''high rez'' let down!
I.M. Anonymous @ 6/26/2002 7:27:31 PM #
It's called the P800 =D
RE: ''high rez'' let down!
I.M. Anonymous @ 6/26/2002 7:48:42 PM #
does the P800 have 16 bit color, GPS, SD slot and compatibility with thousands of PalmOS apps?
RE: ''high rez'' let down!
drw @ 6/26/2002 9:11:28 PM #
I'm not impressed with 320x320. Every time I play with a sony in a computer store I get this annoying screen blanking flicker as it switches from home view to app view. That would drive me nuts.

I have a 6035. The screen is small such that even if it did have hirez, utilizing it with spreadsheets would require me to have a magnifying glass.

David in Pflugerville, TX

RE: ''high rez'' let down!
Pentagonal @ 6/26/2002 9:30:36 PM #
Maybe they meant HiRes in terms of more pixels per square inch than, say, a Palm V/m5xx, but of course the same could be said of the m130, and Palm has, more scrupulously, chosen not to make grandiose claims about the resolution of that device.

Perhaps we could call this resolution standard "HiRes-".

RE: ''high rez'' let down!
I.M. Anonymous @ 6/26/2002 11:43:24 PM #
"Hi-res" is compared to an average cell phone's dotted LCD screen.
RE: ''high rez'' let down!
I.M. Anonymous @ 6/27/2002 2:00:08 AM #
"does the P800 have 16 bit color, GPS, SD slot and compatibility with thousands of PalmOS apps?"

I think they do have a 16Bit screen if not better
And this phone is GPS Ready not GPS BUILT-IN . That means you are limited to use a certain phone carrier who offers the 911 thingy
No SD Slot, but SonyEricsson does have an industrial standard MemoryStick Slot.
And P800 is not compatible with thousands of PalmOS Apps, but ironicly so is PalmOS 5.

Does Kyocera 7135 have a real High Res big screen !? no
Does Kyocera 7135 have built-in Bluetooth !? no
Does Kyocera 7135 run on GSM 1900/1800/900 (so called World phone) !? no
So will you be able to use Kyocera 7135 in anywhere except US !? I doubt it

RE: ''high rez'' let down!
I.M. Anonymous @ 6/27/2002 4:18:18 AM #
I wasn't trying to bash the p800, just to point out that we have 2 phones with their own unique features. The p800 only has 4096 colors but it has hi-res. The kyocera has 65000 colors but no hi-res. Memory stick duo isn't quite as standard as SD which is used by Palm, Handera, Hanspring, various pocketpc's and many other devices. It also has a smaller capacity. PalmOS 5 should be compatible with thousands of PalmOS 4 apps but it's irrelevant since the kyocera doesn't use OS 5. And CDMA is a good network that is available all over the US. That's more important to most US business travelers than the occasional trip to Europe. In the end it doesn't matter to me because I'd rather get a treo with a real keyboard that can fit in the palm of my hand. That's more important to me than a built in camera or 65 thousand colors.
RE: ''high rez'' let down!
I.M. Anonymous @ 6/29/2002 10:07:43 AM #
Posted by: I.M. Anonymous @ 6/27/2002 2:00:08 AM

-->And this phone is GPS Ready not GPS BUILT-IN<---

GPS is built in putz, read the facts. IT's an APGS solution that uses the network for completing the POS LOC. ALL carriers must support the E911 Phase two mandate, it's requried by the FCC.

-->That means you are limited to use a certain phone carrier who offers the 911 thingy<--

See above...

-->Does Kyocera 7135 have a real High Res big screen !? no<--

It's a phone, I don't want 320x320 against my head to would look like an idiot.

-->Does Kyocera 7135 have built-in Bluetooth !? no<--

Doesn't need to. IT has SD so you can get the SD Bluetooth card if you insist on being able to communicate with the handfull of other devices in the world that have that crappy technology.

-->Does Kyocera 7135 run on GSM 1900/1800/900 (so called World phone) !? no<--

You europeans really are strugling with that GSM thing aren't you....

-->So will you be able to use Kyocera 7135 in anywhere except US !? I doubt it <--

Seeing how many world travelers there are.....

RE: ''high rez'' let down!
Dan Harkless @ 7/2/2002 8:08:30 PM #
I have yet to get a cell phone or PDA because wireless web (and to a lesser extent, email and SSH remote host access) is the killer app for me.

However, 160x160 is simply not sufficient for general-purpose web browsing (or viewing 80-column text, etc.).

I badly want a 2.5G or 3G phone (preferably on a network that has a provider in Southern California offering flat-rate data access -- I guess Sprint CDMA 1xRTT this summer is the last hope for this) with a full-featured PDA and a resolution of 240x320 or greater.

Sadly, it looks like the only phones to come out in the forseeable future with these specs run Microsoft OSes. I really don't want to support Microsoft, but the alternative looks to be to wait until sometime in 2003 (or beyond) to get a phone...

RE: ''high rez'' let down!
I.M. Anonymous @ 7/7/2002 10:07:34 AM #
This rez is pleanty good for a clamshell smartphone. Only europussies want movies on their little-teenie-tiny-chic-freak-fuk-phones. A "high rez" let-down" is when your wife runs the bong through the dishwasher.
RE: ''high rez'' let down!
I.M. Anonymous @ 8/21/2002 3:19:06 PM #
I think you are kinda missing the boat.
The 7135 will be marketed toward people like myself.

I do not use a Palm every day, but I REQUIRE a cell phone. I like this device because it is PRIMARILY a cellphone, and SECONDARILY a PDA. This is perfect. I do not plan to play games, only keep an address book, date book, and tasks/lists. Include the MP3 player and an SD slot, and I am happier than a pig in slop. I could care less that it can't upgrade to Palm OS5.

In talking with Kyocera's sales team, this is how they will market it - Cell phone with PDA abilities.

RE: ''high rez'' let down!
I.M. Anonymous @ 9/27/2002 3:34:42 AM #
RE: ''high rez'' let down!
king_of_the_huns @ 3/31/2003 3:23:52 PM #
Whom ever used a 320x320 high-resolution to read emails/notes/etc. can not go back to 160x160.

BTW, the 320x320 and 160x160 has the same PHYSICAL screen size, so you would not look "stupid" holding a "big something" to your head... Check you the SONY Clie's to see what I mean... The fonts are just easy to read...

Great review

Scott R @ 6/26/2002 10:06:18 AM #
Thanks for the excellent pre-review, Barton!


RE: Great review
Scott R @ 6/26/2002 10:07:02 AM #
BTW, did you point out the problem you had with entering numbers in the memo pad to the PR guy? It sounds like it would be fairly easy for them to fix before release (or perhaps via a patch).


RE: Great review
gellmanb @ 6/26/2002 10:23:14 AM #
Thanks. Goetter and I played together with the number-entry problem, so he saw it. I hope they fix it, as I'd rather enter numbers than text. I've used TapPad for the constant problem of taking down a phone number as someone says it, but this would be better.

RE: Great review
Sholey @ 6/26/2002 11:12:51 AM #
Great job man! Thanks for all the info! Sounds like a winner.
The only problem I see is for a cell phone not to have a good screen outside where most of my calls are made!

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