The new Audiovox 5600 SmartPhone Rocks

I was at a team lunch yesterday sitting next to Jeff Cooperstein (our security guru for the .NET Framework), who was showing off his new AudioVox 5600 smart phone.  After playing with it for only 5 minutes I was hooked, and I went out to the mall and bought one myself earlier today.


After using it for a few hours today, I feel comfortable recommending it to anyone.  It really is a stunning piece of engineering (both hardware and software).


What really sets it apart is the fact that:


1) It is pretty small

2) It has good battery life

3) It is running Windows mobile software

4) AT&T is offering some really connectivity pricing with it


I have friends who have worked on Windows mobile, and I’ve been giving them grief about it for years.  Usually this was around the fact that the battery life of smart phones used to not last a full day, that bandwidth charges cost so much that doing any network connectivity on them didn’t make any sense, and that syncing email/calendaring required docking the unit with a PC – which made these scenarios significantly less useful.


This new model comes with a built-in version of Outlook that supports network based syncing with a remote Exchange server (over the GSM connection) – meaning the email, calendar, and contacts list is always up-to-date and cached locally for quick interaction (no network pauses when reading items).  You can configure the interval over which syncs happen (and can even tweak things so that the interval is longer during off-peak hours) – right now my phone updates every 15 minutes.  The synching is a true sync (unlike some systems I’ve used in the past where they simply copy data down and never push it back), meaning if I delete an email on the smart-phone, it will be gone the next time I check Outlook on my desktop.  This is going to dramatically change my information workflow model – since I can now easily monitor and respond to changes to my calendar during the day, as well as keep an eye on my inbox, without ever having to power-up my laptop or plug the phone in.


The phone has some nice consumer features – including Windows Media Player (allowing you to use it as a music player), and a built-in camera.  What is more intriguing to me, though, is the fact that it provides built-in support for the .NET Compact Framework – allowing anyone to build an application that extends the system.  Yesterday Jeff was showing me a cool application that someone in Microsoft Research had built to track Seattle traffic status and pattern flows – allowing them to see real-time traffic status while in their car.  I’ve never built an application with the .NET Compact Framework before, but am now looking forward to playing with it more with the new phone.


All this extensibility and network connectivity is great, but in the past the problem was that it cost you big-time in terms of charges and fees.  What put me over the top with this phone was the fact that AT&T is offering an unlimited network data access plan for only $25 a month.  This means I can automatically sync thousands of messages of email, outlook contacts, and calendar meetings without worrying about what it is costing me. 


I can also then optionally use the built-in pocket IE to read news headlines and sports.   The phone comes with a few page feeds pre-populated for this.  I was able to add an IE favorite to point to as well.  It worked ok when hit by the phone, and I was able to read various peoples’ blog entries without having to-do anything custom.  The multi-column default style for .Text is non-ideal for the small phone, though, and one thing I’ll probably end up doing in the next few days is to investigate publishing a page on my site that uses the ASP.NET Mobile Controls features to optimize an RSS layout for a smaller form factor such as a phone. 


All in all, I can’t say enough good things about this new phone.  It really has blown me away.  I’m not usually in the habit of recommending products to others – but I’d definitely recommend people head to an AT&T wireless store to check it out.  PC Magazine also has a review that provides more details here:


Great job Audiovox, Windows Mobile, and AT&T.


Nov. 19th Update: Here is a link to some cool Windows Mobile Content:


  • You guys are spoiled. Over here in Holland it costs me nearly 7.50 euro's (around 10 dollars) for 5 megabytes of data traffic. Do a few syncs, browse some weblogs and gone is your 5 MB. I wish we had a flat-rate plan here.

  • Scott, as a fresh SmartPhone user, what is your take on needing a Terminal Services client for it?

  • Hi Dimitri,

    I think a terminal services client would be interesting for some form factors -- although I'm not so sure with this particular phone. The main reason being that typing characters on a numeric keypad is pretty darn painful. I'm not sure I'll do much of this on the phone (I'll mainly read and delete email, and not respond much).

    But on a smartphone or PDA that did have a better keyboard option (like a blackberry), I think it would be a great idea.



  • Don't they sell Bluetooth keyboards now? I wonder if it will work with the SMT 5600?

  • The phone does support blue-tooth -- so in theory that might just work (although it might just be easier in those situations to power on a laptop).

    An interesting idea though...

  • I'm jealous - I wanted the Audiovox but for many reasons I won't mention here I stuck with Sprint and got the Samsung SP-600 which is Samsungs version of Windows Mobile. Overall I like the phone but it is missing a few of the bells and whistles you got!

    I did write my hello world Smartphone app and it's great that we can now build apps for the phone using .NET!

    Only if the phone came with more time to play with it!

  • I use the motorola MPX200, and am looking to upgrade. The main problem I have with the mpx in synching is that sometimes the synching software treats all entries on the phone as new, so that I every contact on the server is duplicated. My 5000 contacts become 10000 contacts, very difficult to fix. I have disabled contact syunching. I would rather have "download only" but I think ActiveSync does not have this option.

    Does this happen with the Audiovox? Have they fixed it in W-mobile-2003?

    Any other ideas?

  • I went to to find that deal and it looks great...ohh but one thing, they don't offer the $24.99 a month for unlimited data service. They offer the required $29.99 a month for only 10 MB of data. Will 10 MB of data be good enough for occasional web surfing and stuff? Can I get on this $29.99 plan now and then change it to a different plan later? Someone please help as I am planning on either getting an mpx220 or Audiovox 5600 phone ASAP as my current Sprint phone is no longer working correctly. I have also read a couple of minutes ago that the mpx220 phones with the "stickers" have just came out TODAY straight back from the recall and people say that the volume is now a lot better. Does anyone want to comment on this also? TIA (Thanks In Advance)!

  • Can I use the phone as a modem for a laptop with bluetooth. Does the ATT unlimited plan cover that?

  • Can I surf the net on my laptop using the unlimited data with the syncing function.

Comments have been disabled for this content.