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Blast from the Past: Cingular 2125 Review

Wow, look how long ago this was! February 15th, 2006 was my first device review ever and was my first Windows Mobile Smartphone! I thought it would be fun to post this and see how many of you owned this device and what your first smartphone was:

By Doug Smith (DSmithZ28)
February 15th, 2006

Developer/Vender: Cingular/HTC (Faraday)
Price: $299.99 ($199.99 with current $100.00 rebate)
Rating (out of 100): 81

91-100: Excellent; this product is highly recommended
80-90: Good; this product is recommended
70-79: Average; entry level product or some design/functionality issues
60-69: Below Average; serious design/functionality issues, recommend upgrading
00-59: Junk; major design/functionality issues, recommend using it as a paper weight

Cingular 2125 WM5 Smartphone Rating Breakdown
16/20 Ease of Installation/setup
16/20 Ease of Use
18/20 Does it do what it advertises
15/20 Cost/Value assessment
16/20 Quality/Construction


The 2125 WM5 Smartphone by Cingular is their first private label device that definitely hits the target. Picking up where the Audiovox SMT5600 left off, Cingular has upgraded the OS to Window Mobile 5.0 and to a snappy 1.3 mega-pixel camera. Even though my initial reaction was not that good about the 2125, spending a week with it has definitely changed my mind. With the 2125’s EDGE High Speed Data capabilities and Cingular’s unlimited data plan ($19.99 a month), I found that internet browsing was surprisingly fast, including video streaming. I especially enjoyed getting my emails no matter where I was at. Even though I cannot wait to get my hands on the 8125, I still think I will miss the 2125’s great screen quality and form factor. I definitely would recommend this phone to the person wanting to stay connected and better organized, but that does not need to input a lot of data frequently. Cingular’s 2125 WM5 Smartphone features:

  • Microsoft® Windows Mobile (TM) 5.0 Smartphone Edition
  • Windows Media®Player 10 for playing music and video
  • Bluetooth® connectivity for connecting wireless accessories
  • 1.3 mega pixel camera and video recorder
  • GPRS/EDGE High-Speed Data Access
  • 850/900/1800/1900 MHz – Quad-band for international compatibility
  • Large 2.2″ TFT color display
  • 64 MB SDRAM/64 MB Flash ROM
  • Mobile versions of Microsoft Office programs
  • TI OMAP 850 200MHz processor
  • Pocket MSN® (Hotmail®/MSN Messenger)
  • Multimedia messaging – send text, pictures and sound
  • Downloadable polyphonic/full-audio ringtones, graphics and games
  • Stereo audio jack for listening to music

Device Features Breakdown
One of the two initial issues I had with the 2125 phone was the power button. For some reason, it is the only button that is recessed and is located at the bottom of the hump. It made powering on and off the device very difficult as well as accessing the Quick List screen to set the Key Lock. The second issue I had with the Factor Was the Navigation Control Joystick. It is very tricky, and takes some getting used to. With those two issues removed, everything else gets good in a hurry! The screen on the 2125 is crisp and clear. The LCD is a 2.2 inch diagonal display, 240×320 TFT and has 65536 Color for an enjoyable viewing experience. Video was also very nice viewing on Media Player. I found that the keypad was very nice and easy to use with it’s raised buttons and very functional for inputting text when necessary. (Which is pain on any Smartphone’s Alphanumeric Keypad!)

The Camera on the Cingular 2125 Smartphone is a 1.3 mega-pixel upgrade from the Audiovox SMT5600. I found the camera to be very good and worked well in Night Mode. The camera comes with four quality settings: Basic, Normal, Fine, & Super Fine along with four resolution settings: 160×120, 320×240, 640×480, & 1280×1024. The Camera also sports a 2x zoom and a variety of picture options such as: Auto, Daylight, Incandescent, Fluorescent, Night, Grayscale, Sepia, and Cool. These really made the camera fun to play with. The camera does not come with a flash, but that was overlooked by the camera’s Night setting that performed well. Other features include a counter and Video mode that I did not test. The video mode does come with two resolution settings, 176×144 or 128×96.

The battery, at 1150 mAh did surprisingly well during my time with the phone. I left the Bluetooth on at all times, and like leaving the screen active for longer periods after non-use. This along with constant internet browsing and email checking never wore the 2125 down past 50% in a days use. I religiously charge all my devices nightly, but I know that if missed, the 2125 will perform the next day.

As always, the Cingular SIM card is located underneath the battery. Unfortunately, the 2125 located the Micro SD slot behind the battery also making removal a pain. I find that I seldom need to do this by using ActiveSync so it didn’t bother me as much as it may other users.

I really liked the Cingular 2125’s side buttons. The volume controls were very easy to use during a phone call and the “Comm. Manager” button was very valuable from switching on or off Bluetooth or switching between Ring and Vibrate options for incoming calls. The camera key on the opposite side was just as easy to locate for initiating the camera quickly where as to no loose a great photo opportunity.

As mentioned in my Introduction, the power button is not the most user friendly. It is very difficult to depress for anyone with large fingers. The power button also brings up the quick list screen that I use frequently to lock the Keypad. This was one of the two issues that prevented the 2125 from getting an excellent form factor rating.

The speaker located on the top of the 2125 is very underpowered during phone calls. You can forget about hearing the other party if you are driving in the car. I seldom use this function as I like my HS-850 Motorola Bluetooth Earphone, but it is still a drawback for many users who hate looking like a Dork by wearing an earphone! (I of course wear it with a great deal of style and masculinity!)

Located on the bottom of the Cingular 2125 is the 2.5mm earphone jack. Don’t worry, Cingular supplies a nice earphone set along with your purchase of the phone because your std. jack earphone set will not work obviously. Also located on the bottom is the Mini-USB Sync-Connector.

As you can see from the picture to the right, the Cingular 2125 measures 4.57″ tall by 1.81″ inches in width, by a thickness of 0.69″. I would have given it form factor a perfect rating because of it’s size and keypad buttons if it weren’t for small and hard to press power button and the very tricky navigational control joystick.

Package Contents

  • Battery
  • Home charger
  • USB Cable
  • CD with Microsoft ActiveSync (TM) desktop application
  • Leather Carrying Case
  • Stereo Headset


  • Weight: 3.74 ounces
  • Dimensions: 4.57 x 1.81 x 0.69 inches
  • Warranty: 1 yr on the phone and accessories
  • 850/900/1800/1900 MHz – Quad-band for international compatibility
  • Memory: 64 MB SDRAM, 64 MB Flash ROM
  • Processor: TI OMAP 850 200MHz
  • Talk Time: Up to 4 Hrs
  • Standby Time: Up to 6 Days
  • All talk; data and standby times are approximate and depend on network configuration

Ease of Installation/setup (16/20)
The Cingular 2125 WM5 Smartphone was actually very easy to get started. I had no real complaints other than the inconvenient location of the Mini SD slot behind the battery and the difficulty of entering in data through the keypad. Installing ActiveSync was very easy and all of my contacts, calendar, favorites, and tasks transferred easily. My only problem that I did not get resolves was the missing contacts stored on my SIM card. They do not copy into Outlook Contacts and I never did find a route to the SIM card information through the settings options. This probably would have been explained in the instruction manual that I didn’t receive with the phone. I called Cingular and they were to have shipped out a new one, but it never made it to me prior to my deadline of this review.

Ease of Use (16/20)
Not to keep beating a dead horse, but the issues stated above with the power button and navigational control joystick really hurt the easy of use on this phone. It is a given when you buy a Smartphone that information input is challenging at best through the alphanumeric keypad. Otherwise, I found everything else very good and overall this phone is a very “easy to use” Smartphone.

Does it do what it advertises (18/20)
I gave the 2125 a high mark here because I do feel it accomplishes what it advertises. It is a “Smartphone”, not a converged device like it’s big brother the 8125. I really ended up liking this phone and would highly recommend it to anyone who simply wants to view information on a small, great form factor phone.

Cost/Value assessment (15/20)
This is where I was a little more critical of the 2125 than anywhere else. Currently (as of 02-15-06) they are running the 2125 with two year contract for $199.99. Directly beneath the 2125 is the new 8125 for $299.99 with two year contract. Loaded with options, the 8125 is a much better value for an extra $100.00 in my opinion.
Note: You can find an excellent review of the 8125 here for more information. (shameless plug, I know!)

Quality/Construction (16/20)
The quality of the 2125 is exceptional. I felt that it was a very “solid” phone and well built. To me however, Construction means more than they “tightened all the screws”. It also means that the phone is laid out correctly. Because of the location of the Mini SD, the power button, and the navigational control joystick, I did lower it’s score in this category some.

Closing Words
On paper the Cingular 2125 might appear to be a slightly better than average Smartphone. There are several issues that detracted from the score that in my opinion, could not be overlooked and still have been objective about this review. Even though these issues are tangible, they may not affect everyone in the same way. My point is that you should always make a device/gadget decision that best suits your own unique needs. The 2125 turned out to be a great little phone with some quirks that some might find “non-issues”. I truly liked this phone and would recommend it to any would be Smartphone users.


  • Excellent Screen Resolution
  • 1.3 Mega-Pixel Camera
  • Powerful and compact design
  • Windows Mobile 05 operating system for Smartphones


  • No Wi-Fi No QWERTY Keyboard Difficult Power Button Small Navigational Joystick