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  1.    #1  
    Preamble:

    I've been with Sprint for about 3 years now, ever since the Handspring Visor came out. Generally, I'm satisfied with Sprint. Of course, their technical support is just awful as is the service in the Sprint stores. But I'd been able to get a signal and data on my Handspring, Treo 600 and Treo 650 just about everywhere in the country that I've used them. That is everywhere except my house.

    I just started a new job in downtown Oakland, California and guess what? My Sprint Treo 650 doesn't work there either. So I've got a telephone that I can't use at home or at the office. Interestingly, every other carrier’s phone works perfectly in both places. So I decided to get a Treo 650 on a 30 day trial from Cingular. Now I have one of each sitting in front of me on my desk. (What a nerd)


    Physical differences:

    There are very few physical differences between the two phones -- save color. Of course, the Treo 650 from Cingular has a slot at the top for the GSM SIM card.

    There is a difference in the battery between the two phones. The battery in the Treo from Cingular has a rounded edge opposite the flat edge with the electric contacts. This actually has a consequence. The battery is actually pretty loose in the socket. When you have the battery cover off to hard reset the phone and hold the phone right-side-up to press the red phone button on the front the battery invariably falls out. This does not happen on the Sprint phone.

    The batteries also have a different part number. The Sprint phones part number is 157-10014-00. The Cingular phone's battery is the same number except it ends in 01. Being a hopeless experimentalist -- and willing to live dangerously -- I interchanged the batteries. I could see no difference whatsoever and they appear to be fully interchangeable. So apparent differences may be nothing more than a new vendor.

    Battery life

    Here's something that surprised me. I can tell no difference at all in the battery life between the GSM phone and the Sprint phone. This is contrary to popular wisdom. My only explanation is that the power used during phone conversations represents only a small percentage of the total power drain during the day. The screen brightness, functioning of the CPU, and speakerphone use up most of the power. I suppose that if you used the phone principally for talking and rarely as a PDA you might experience a slight improvement on the GSM phone battery life. But that's a guess and it is not my experience.

    Functional differences:

    The most important functional difference for me is that my GSM Cingular phone works at my house and at my office. Of course YMMV.

    *Sound quality:
    The GSM phone has a somewhat better audio quality. Voices do sound slightly more digital but at the same time they are clearer with more definition in the high range. There is a background hiss on all GSM calls which does not exist on Sprint, but that hiss is not at all objectionable. On balance, I find the GSM sound quality to be more "listenable." I think it is also slightly more intelligible in noisy situations. People whom I call also seem to think that the GSM sound quality is slightly better. But I don't have a big enough sample to be definitive.

    *Volume differences
    This could certainly be an artifact of individual variation between phones or manufacturing runs, but the GSM phone has a noticeably louder speakerphone/MP3 Speaker/alarm. The alarm is so loud that it actually distorts the speaker when the volume is up at seven. This is not true of the Sprint phone.

    *Screen brightness
    Again, this could easily be a manufacturing or parts supplier variation but the GSM phone has a very slightly brighter screen than the Sprint phone. Otherwise they are indistinguishable.

    *Data
    Connection speed is definitely faster on the GSM phone. The icon of the hands shaking appears almost immediately on the GSM phone while it often take a second or more to appear on the Sprint PCS phone. However, the over all speed of data downloads is extremely close if not identical between the two phones. Downloading e-mail or synchronizing AvantGo are so close in speed that I am unwilling to give the nod to either phone. That said, I have never found a so-called "Edge" area for the GSM phone. If they actually exist, the GSM phone may be faster. But in the San Francisco Bay Area GSM and PCS are for all intents and purposes identical in speed.


    Carriers and plans


    There are small and meaningless variations in the cost of minutes from Sprint and Cingular. One may be slightly better or cheaper than the other depending upon what you need. But there is a big difference in the cost of data. Sprint charges $15 per month for unlimited data. Cingular charges $39 per month for the same service. That's a pretty big difference per year. There is another astonishing difference.

    Cingular offers no extended warranty and no insurance policy for your phone. If you have a defective phone you need to deal with PalmOne and you can't get your phone replaced by going into the local Cingular store. If you drop your phone, you're just out of luck unless you carry a third-party insurance policy which you need to pay upfront. Sprint, on the other hand, offers a six dollar per month insurance policy for your phone which will offer you a replacement phone for $50 if you lose it or drop it in the toilet of an airline (no kidding I have a friend who did this). More important than this, Sprint will directly replace the phone if it becomes defective during your service period -- sometimes right at the Sprint store if you have the patience to wait in line for an hour behind 25 people arguing over their phone bills. On the whole, Sprint wins hands down on better, cheaper, and more compassionate service.

    Just one quick word -- Sprint saves lots of money by being severely understaffed. I think they just hope you will go away because it take so long to get service. That's true in their stores and it's true for their phone technical support. Expect to wait at least an hour to get decent technical support after talking to two completely useless levels of people in the United States and finally getting connected to India and then being transferred back to the United States to talk to a level 3+ representative who actually knows something. Please note, I have not yet had to talk to a Cingular representative on the phone. However, the service in the Cingular store was, by comparison with Sprint, terrific.


    Conclusion:
    If you plan to travel to Europe and want to use a data phone while you're there you have no choice but to buy a GSM phone from Cingular or T-Mobile. However, the principal issue driving your decision for use in the United States should be which carrier provides best signal quality in the areas where you spend the most time. For me, Cingular looks like a better solution. I'll check back in again on this thread in a week or two after I've taken my next trip outside California. All other things being equal, however, I would probably stick with Sprint if it provided me with decent signal strength at my home and in my office. Sprint is cheaper, their policies are better, and their coverage seems to be ubiquitous except at my home and office.

    Good luck and enjoy your 650. Once I figured out how to get around all the bugs, I have really enjoyed using the 650.
    Last edited by globalnat; 02/15/2005 at 12:01 AM.
  2. Silver5's Avatar
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    #2  
    Thank you for this review! This is a really nice comparison that I haven't seen anyone else do. I am surprised that you didn't find any significant difference in the battery life of the units, but it is great news. I have been very hesitant to move to Cingular due to the higher costs of service and the lack of insurance, but I thought that the battery life of the GSM phone would make me stick with it instead of CDMA. I guess that if I were to switch I'd try Sprint...I get 2 weeks to make sure anyways...

    T-Mobile just made it harder for me to switch though...even though I don't have any Edge coverage, my plan is reall4y awesome. My plan now is $39.99 and I get 1000 minutes, $19.99 unlimited data, 9.99 unlimited sms, and $3.99 phone insurance. Nobody really has anything that good, but they made it tougher for me by adding that I get every 6th month free! I hope that data costs don't increase for me suddenly when/if T-Mobile ever gets Edge service, but for now I don't know if I can justify getting anyone else since I am quite happy with my service and the cost is really low in comparison to others...
  3. #3  
    Good review. Give yourself a hand, Treoander.

    Quote Originally Posted by globalnat
    Preamble:

    Now I have one of each sitting in front of me on my desk. (What a nerd)
    LOL. Indeed you are a nerd


    That said, I have never found a so-called "Edge" area for the GSM phone. If they actually exist, the GSM phone may be faster. But in the San Francisco Bay Area GSM and PCS are for all intents and purposes identical in speed.
    Well, the red map you see at the Cingular store showing EDGE coverage includes SF, but you know that coverage will be spotty anywhere. I measured the speed With EDGE in my area and it was close to the CDMA 1XRTT, anywhere between 102~140kbps. Speeds will vary based on location, signal strength, and congestion of the bandwidth.

    Carriers and plans
    Sprint's $15 unlimited vision cannot be beaten by anyone. Cingular was more expensive to begin with, but they screwed it up more by limiting the $19.99 plan to 3MB, adding an unlimited for $24.99, and claiming you can't use it with PDA phones, when you actually can.

    Voice plans are similar, but you get rollover with Cingular. That's nice. Btw, does anyone know if rollover minutes expire at some point??????

    Cingular offers no extended warranty and no insurance policy for your phone. If you have a defective phone you need to deal with PalmOne and you can't get your phone replaced by going into the local Cingular store. If you drop your phone, you're just out of luck unless you carry a third-party insurance policy which you need to pay upfront. Sprint, on the other hand, offers a six dollar per month insurance policy for your phone which will offer you a replacement phone for $50 if you lose it or drop it in the toilet of an airline (no kidding I have a friend who did this).
    This is a bummer. Cingular has no excuse for not offering insurance on their expensive phone. These are the phones for which you need the insurance, not the free or near free phones you normally get. Anyway, I enrolled in the Lockline insurance online, and the validation came through when they called me back (automated call). However, there was no question about what type of phone it was; only the phone number. As I understand it from other users here, if they cover your PDA phone by mistake they have to honor their coverage. I paid over $700 for my unlocked PPC phone. So, we'll see.
  4. #4  
    That's nice. Btw, does anyone know if rollover minutes expire at some point??????
    Yes, they expire after 12 month, so the minute you do not use this month will expire 2-05.
  5. #5  
    I also tried them both - and for a short while, I still have them in my hot little hands. (I guess I'm a nerd too. But I perfer the geek label. )

    I started with the Sprint (previously had been on T-Mobile) but was disappointed in the call quality. It wasn't just the sound on the 650 though. I also got my wife a Samsung phone with Sprint and she was disappointed with the quality as well. Inside of Houston proper, it sounded fine, but in the rural surrounding area where we live, the audio sounds very digitized.

    So, just under the 14 day window, we ported our numbers to Cingular - mine with a Cingular 650. While we were more pleased with the audio quality in both phones (hers a Moto V551 - GREAT phone BTW), unfortunately my wife had just about zero signal in her office building. So after just a couple of days, we switched back to Sprint.


    Quote Originally Posted by globalnat
    *Sound quality:
    The GSM phone has a somewhat better audio quality. Voices do sound slightly more digital but at the same time they are clearer with more definition in the high range. There is a background hiss on all GSM calls which does not exist on Sprint, but that hiss is not at all objectionable. On balance, I find the GSM sound quality to be more "listenable." I think it is also slightly more intelligible in noisy situations. People whom I call also seem to think that the GSM sound quality is slightly better. But I don't have a big enough sample to be definitive.
    My experience is definitely in line with this. However, as I mentioned, we were disappointed with the audio quality even on my wife's regular cell phone. (CDMA technology allows carriers to squeeze more callers on a tower by reducing the call quality. I wonder if that is what Sprint is doing out where we live.)

    Quote Originally Posted by globalnat
    *Volume differences
    This could certainly be an artifact of individual variation between phones or manufacturing runs, but the GSM phone has a noticeably louder speakerphone/MP3 Speaker/alarm. The alarm is so loud that it actually distorts the speaker when the volume is up at seven. This is not true of the Sprint phone.
    I absolutely noticed this. In fact, I was afraid at first that I might have busted the speaker in the Cingular model. At full volume with some rings, the speaker literally sounded like it was torn. I am glad you noticed this also.

    Quote Originally Posted by globalnat
    *Screen brightness
    Again, this could easily be a manufacturing or parts supplier variation but the GSM phone has a very slightly brighter screen than the Sprint phone. Otherwise they are indistinguishable.
    With the two that I have, this is reversed. The Sprint is slightly brighter and whiter while the Cingular has just a hint of a bluish tone.

    Quote Originally Posted by globalnat
    *Data
    Connection speed is definitely faster on the GSM phone. The icon of the hands shaking appears almost immediately on the GSM phone while it often take a second or more to appear on the Sprint PCS phone. However, the over all speed of data downloads is extremely close if not identical between the two phones. Downloading e-mail or synchronizing AvantGo are so close in speed that I am unwilling to give the nod to either phone. That said, I have never found a so-called "Edge" area for the GSM phone. If they actually exist, the GSM phone may be faster. But in the San Francisco Bay Area GSM and PCS are for all intents and purposes identical in speed.
    Yes, the 'making a connection transaction' speed is noticbly faster with Cingular (and about the same as my old Treo 270 with T-Mobile). The Sprint does take longer to setup the connection.

    I did several tests with both at dslreports and this is what I found for the Houston area (and obviously for just the few days I was testing). The Sprint version seems to consistently get right around 100 kbps (~ 90-110). The Cingular version was usually at least as fast as that and recorded as high as 120-130. But on several occasions, scored 30-60.



    My usage varied far too much (as I was playing with bluetooth and chatter email to varying degrees during this time) to make any solid observations on battery life.

    ----

    So, that was my experience.

    t
    Last edited by terryg; 02/14/2005 at 06:30 PM.
  6. #6  
    Thank you for the very objective view, maybe now we can just point people to this post since it seems to come up almost every day.
  7. #7  
    Quote Originally Posted by globalnat
    Preamble:
    There is a difference in the battery between the two phones. The battery in the Treo from Cingular has a rounded edge opposite the flat edge with the electric contacts. This actually has a consequence. The battery is actually pretty loose in the socket. When you have the battery cover off to hard reset the phone and hold the phone right-side-up to press the red phone button on the front the battery invariably falls out. This does not happen on the Sprint phone.

    The batteries also have a different part number. The Sprint phones part number is 157-10014-00. The Cingular phone's battery is the same number except it ends in 01. Being a hopeless experimentalist -- and willing to live dangerously -- I interchanged the batteries. I could see no difference whatsoever and they appear to be fully interchangeable. So apparent differences may be nothing more than a new vendor.
    I almost forgot. Both my phones came with the same type battery. The model number is the same as the one in your Sprint: 157-10014-00.

    t
  8. #8  
    And another thing...

    Sorry, I just want to be complete. The brightness varies on the keypad lighting as well. My Sprint model is slightly brighter than my Cingular model. And while my Cingular model's screen has just a hint of a blue tone, the keys on my Cingular have more than a hit of a red tint to them.

    But let me stress that I don't think you would notice either of them if it wasn't side by side with another model. And as globalnat's experience shows, this probably has more to do with production variances than with carrier differences.


    Finally, after several days of use, the stylus in my Sprint phone began getting lose. It would slide partially out with certain movements, but would stop short of falling out. As I am returning the Cingular phone, I tried switching them (they are the same color) and the stylus is tight again . (Funny thing is the Sprint stylus in the Cingluar phone is also tight. )

    t
  9. #9  
    What a fantastic post - thanks a million for discussing your results! As a long time Cingular customer, I walked when they wouldn't give me a plan to compete with Sprint. I've been using my CDMA 650 for 8 days, but haven't yet shaken that nagging feeling that I am missing out by not sticking with GSM. I was actually thinking of getting a Cing 650 to test it against this one, but your post has convinced me that I made the right decision with Sprint. So far, I have no complaints about my Treo or my service. Calls are clear, and I have asked everyone I know to rate the call quality. I have yet to hear any complaints, and everyone says I sound just fine. I personally think the calls sound clearer and have better tone. FYI, I'm in Atlanta. Again, thanks for helping me solidify my decision!
  10. #10  
    Quote Originally Posted by lawdawg
    Yes, they expire after 12 month, so the minute you do not use this month will expire 2-05.
    Actually 2-06
  11. #11  
    Wow, if the GSM speakers are any louder than my Sprint, I would be scared. I have noticed that the speaker in my Sprint 650 distorts at a lower volume than my Sprint 600.
  12. #12  
    Quote Originally Posted by terryg
    And another thing...

    As I am returning the Cingular phone, I tried switching them (they are the same color) and the stylus is tight again . (Funny thing is the Sprint stylus in the Cingluar phone is also tight. )

    t
    LMAO. hahahaha I think everyone should buy two Treo's; one from Sprint and one from Cingular to ensure getting a tightly fitted stylus.
  13.    #13  
    New update on data reception:

    I've now had the opportunity to use the Cingular version of the 650 throughout the San Francisco Bay Area and in both a Hillsboro and Portland, Oregon. The cell phone reception (voice) is essentially perfect with nice high resolution sound and almost no dropouts.

    However, data reception is inferior to Sprint. While Sprint's voice connection is a bit spottier then Cingular's, when you're getting reception Sprint's data works better. Specifically, even if you're only getting one or two bars of reception Sprint reliably downloads e-mails and other data. Cingular's reception "Hiccups" frequently even when there are four bars of reception.

    As mentioned in my first review above, Cingular appears to connect to its data source far faster than Sprint. But when connected, Sprint pretty reliably downloads everything you want with very few or no halts or pauses in the download. In contrast, Cingular appears to be connecting quickly but then will go into indefinite halts for the balance of the download. Some web sites, such as Avantgo and my exchange server actually time out before the Cingular connection ever comes back from one of its lengthy pauses.

    I understand these data dropouts could be an artifact of connections in the Bay Area and in the Portland area. But I suspect not. When this happens, usually the voice connection is good and the GSM phone is showing three or four bars of reception. A possible cause may be too many users on the Cingular/AT&T system to support the demand for data connections - you get "bumped."
    Last edited by globalnat; 02/19/2005 at 12:47 AM.
  14. #14  
    Great review! I work downtown Oakland too. I understood everything you were saying about Sprint in Oakland. I discussed in somewhat of a different fashion a few months back.

    http://discussion.treocentral.com/sh...lle#post492789

    I am having a wonderful experience with my GSM 650 and that is not to take anything away from the CDMA version. I came to understand that data and voice quality is really a regional issue. Standard GPRS was much faster here than in most parts of the country. That's unbelieveable to many, but it was my experience.

    I have gone to that Sprint store (if you work downtown Oakland you know where I'm talking about) at the entrance of City Centre @ 13th/Broadway and played with the 600 and now 650. Data speeds were always mediocre. Off course there is a 18 story building on top of the store, but I'm not sure that is the issue in downtown Oakland. I think Oakland is an anomaly in the Sprint network. People say downtown SF has better voice and data quality and there many more and taller buildings in SF to interfere with signal strength.

    On the GSM side of things, I really like the experience I have had with taking a call while browsing a website and then being able to go right back to where I left off. That has happened to me twice today.

    Your posted report was great. I hope a lot of people get to read it. By the way, I got the $19.99 MediaWorks unlimited data plan.
    Last edited by specimen38; 02/19/2005 at 03:03 AM.
  15.    #15  
    Quote Originally Posted by specimen38
    By the way, I got the $19.99 MediaWorks unlimited data plan.
    The salesman in the store were I bought my Cingular 650 insisted that I needed the $39.95 unlimited data/PDA plan.

    Do you get the full Web connectivity?

    Can you fully browse the net?

    Is there a limit on the number of SMS messages that you can get?

    PS

    I work right next-door to the Sprint store in 505 14th St.
  16. #16  
    Have you looked into the $5/month America's Choice upgrade on Sprint? (I think that's what it's called), but it allows you to roam onto Verizon's network (they don't say it's Verizon, but there's no other CDMA network other than Sprint) so long as you use more that 50% of your minutes on the Sprint network. The only down side is that you don't get data, but that might not be an issue if it's only at work and home, since you surely have internet access there.

    I have the roam option, and the only time I ever need it is in some parts of Tahoe, where the only thing that works on the slopes is Verizon. I have not been without signal since I enabled digital roaming.

    BTW, I was on a business trip and had a stop over in Puerto Rico... I could call home from there for free, it's part of the nationwide system.
  17. #17  
    Quote Originally Posted by globalnat
    *Sound quality:
    The GSM phone has a somewhat better audio quality. Voices do sound slightly more digital but at the same time they are clearer with more definition in the high range. There is a background hiss on all GSM calls which does not exist on Sprint, but that hiss is not at all objectionable. On balance, I find the GSM sound quality to be more "listenable." I think it is also slightly more intelligible in noisy situations. People whom I call also seem to think that the GSM sound quality is slightly better. But I don't have a big enough sample to be definitive.
    Great comparison. Did you run into any voice quality issues on the other end with either phone? It appears that the audio quality was very good in your experience.
  18. #18  
    Quote Originally Posted by GatorFan
    ...your post has convinced me that I made the right decision with Sprint. So far, I have no complaints about my Treo or my service. Calls are clear, and I have asked everyone I know to rate the call quality. I have yet to hear any complaints, and everyone says I sound just fine. I personally think the calls sound clearer and have better tone. FYI, I'm in Atlanta.
    I love my Sprint phone's clarity and reception too. I am in Atlanta and have a signal 99% of the time, wherever I am -- including in town and traveling to major cities on work or for pleasure, and even while snowboarding all over Park City Mountain Resort in Utah.

    People usually think I'm on a landline when I use my Sprint phone...it sounds terrific.

    -Sabrina
  19. #19  
    Sprint has good footprint in Atlanta. When I lived there, my friends would connect in the underground parking, or lower level of malls, but I had to go out in occasional lousy weather to use my Verizon phone. sniff, sniff.
  20. kevroc's Avatar
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    #20  
    Battery life:

    The battery life in my Cingular 650 is shorter than my sprint by several hours. It may be a bad battery though. I've interchanged them between phones without issue.

    Functional differences:

    *Sound quality:
    Same experience. GSM is better but a little nosier.

    *Volume differences
    I didn't notice a difference.

    *Screen brightness
    My GSM appears Brighter. The keyboard however is dimmer as you mention in a later post. Also, the camera appears do use a slightly different white balance setting as the colors appeared a little warmer on the GSM.

    *Data
    Both the connect/disconnect on my GSM is way faster. The data speeds on my sprint are about 10k faster on average...however the gsm appears to suffer from less latency. I streamed 128k shoutcast stations on each side by side and while the buffered and stuttered at different places, overall they wound up about the same. The GSM has a cleaner inactive setting that allows calls through though.



    My GSM is buggy though and I'm returning it to palm one. Maybe I'll try another one down the road as I do like the call quality a little better and they way it handles the data connection.
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