|My Impressions of the Ericsson T28w|
|The Ericsson T28w is
the newest world phone from the Fido.
Last Updated: 13-Nov-2000
Word of Warning: Many newer reviews make reference to older reviews, and this sometimes creates apparent inconsistencies in the overall assessments of various models. Reviews are relative by nature, and so what seemed like a great phone a year, may seem only mediocre now because other phones have "raised the bar" so to speak. If you find that I'm being negative about a phone, while saying it's about the same as a phone I once gave positive reviews to, this a perfect example.
Like the Nokia 8890, the T28w is truly a
tiny phone. Although it is a little bit wider than the 8890, the T28w is
definitely much thinner. Both phones are feather light, and perhaps even too small
for some people.
The two phones that beg comparison are
the Nokia 8890 (because it is a world phone, and because it is very small and
light), and Ericsson’s own T18z (due to number of family similarities).
Throughout this review therefore, I will draw comparisons between those two Fido
phones. I will also make occasional comparisons to the Mitsubishi G310,
primarily because it has incredibly good audio quality, and great RF
Like the 8890, the T28w is a “world”
phone. This refers to the fact that it is able to operate on both 1900 MHz
(which we use here in North America), or 900 MHz (which is used virtually
everywhere else in the world). Although you can buy this phone without any
intention of traveling outside of North America, it is certainly handy for world
travelers. Unlike the 8890 however, the T28w is locked, and so it sells for a
much more reasonable $250.
Like the T18z, the T28w is a flip phone. Unlike its sibling however, the T28w includes a spring-loaded flip. Instead of pulling the flip open with your fingers, you press a small button on the right side of the phone, and the flip flies open for you. Although I was a little leery of the idea at first, I quickly grew to love it. It allowed me to answer the phone with just one hand. Although that can be done with the T18z, it is a much harder task.
The earpiece on this phone is not contoured in any way, and so I found it a little uncomfortable after holding it against my ear for prolonged periods. However, you should note that everyone's ears are different, and so you might not have the same discomfort as I did.
The T28w's screen is almost identical in size to the one on the T18z, but it is vastly superior. For
starters, it uses an Indeglo backlight, instead of LEDs as in case on the T18z.
Ericsson makes much better use of the pixel matrix display, and so it manages to
display more information. However, the Nokia 8890 has more screen real estate,
and it is able to display more information still. However, the 8890 as a
horrible backlight compared to the wonderful Indeglo lighting used on the T28w.
The lithium polymer battery provided
with the T28w is probably the smallest phone battery that I have ever seen.
However, it only provides 500 mAh compared to somewhat more capacious batteries
on other phones, including the 8890. However, Ericsson claims their battery will
give you 74 hours of standby, or approximately 160 minutes of talk time.
The display includes the usual battery
indicator, but you can also find out the battery’s current state of charge
expressed in hours of standby, and minutes
of talk time. Although the figures given are only estimates, they do seem to
be a much more logical way to tell users how much power they have left. I have
read messages from people saying that the estimates on their phones are very
poor, but I found that my phone produced very accurate estimates most of the
Compared with the horrible keypad on the
T18z, the keypad on the T28w is simply marvelous. Keys had a very positive feel,
and they were all very easy to press. I wouldn't say that the T28w was quite as
good is the Nokia 6190, but it was certainly much closer to that ideal than any
Ericsson I have ever tried before.
The available ring tones were very
similar to those available on the T18z, and like that phone, you can compose as
many as 4 custom tones. There are many websites on the Internet that include
compositions for Ericsson phones. Unlike Nokia phones however, you must key them
in using the keypad. There is no provision for uploading them as text messages,
or sending them to the phone with a data cable. The volume of the ringer is
reasonably high, and I had no trouble hearing the T28w whenever anyone phoned
The menu structure isn't that much
different than in the T18z, but Ericsson has wisely added numeric shortcuts.
This allows any menu item to be reached by pressing a series of numbers. They
also provide a number of custom menu assignments, which allow you to get at your
most commonly used features more easily. Although the T28w doesn't really
challenge the 8890 in this regard, I still rate the T28w as having a fairly nice
However, Ericsson thought it would be
really cool to have smooth scrolling.
While this might seem interesting in a demonstration, I found it very annoying
in practice. That isn't that I don't like smooth scrolling; it’s that the
smooth scrolling slowed down my access to many of the functions. This was
especially true when I was attempting to read text messages. If there's a way to
turn off the smooth scrolling, I certainly couldn't find it. Ericsson should
think twice about this feature, or at least make it optional.
The single worst feature of the T28w is its volume control. Although it is mounted on the side, where God intended, it is placed at the very top of the phone rather than in easy reach further down. To make matters worse, the volume control is a slider switch rather than two small pushbuttons. Not only is the slider difficult to actuate while you're in a call, but it does not work intuitively. One has to wonder what sort of drugs the Ericsson engineers were using when they thought this one up.
The T28w does lack a number of features that many users have come to expect in modern phones. It does not support the wonderful "T9" Predictive Text Input, it doesn't have a build-in IR port (though an expensive add-on is available), it doesn't support a voice recorder, and it doesn't support calendar (though an alarm clock feature is included).
Anyone who has read my review of the
T18z knows that I was full of praise for the sound
quality. However, even though
I still believe the T18z does sound very good, my opinion of it has dropped
since the time I originally tested it. This isn't because the T18z changed in
any way, but because I have had a chance to hear many other phones. The T18z’s
sound is a little shallow, and it provides very little low-end to male voices.
I was therefore concerned that the T28w
would be similar, or even worse given its small size. However, I was delighted
to find that the T28w has a much fuller sound than does the T18z. It isn't quite
as stellar as the Mitsubishi G310, or (to a lesser degree) the Nokia 8890.
However, the overall sound quality of the T28w is very pleasant. The earpiece
volume is also quite acceptable, but it could do with being a little bit louder.
Like most GSM phones, the T28w suffers
from a certain degree of buzz caused by the transmitter. That buzz is remarkably
similar to what you hear on the T18z. It isn't quite as objectionable as it is
on Nokia phones, but it is nowhere near as tame as you will find on the
Mitsubishi G310 or the Motorola L-7089. Keep in mind that interference from the
transmitter is always greater when you're further from a site. Whenever you're
close to a site, the transmit power of the phone is usually too low to produce
any noticeable interference.
The transmit sound quality is only about
average, sounding approximately the same as the G310 and the T18z. However, the
T28w has one feature that I have not yet seen on a GSM phone offered by Fido.
The T28w has active
noise suppression, which is achieved by taking a sample of the
background noise from the opposite side of the flip from your mouth. Many people
have noticed that there appears to be microphone openings on both sides of the
flip. I assure you that the openings on the outside are not there so you can use
the phone with the flip closed (as some people have suggested).
I made test recordings while traveling
in my wife's excessively noisy pickup truck along Highway 403. With any other
Fido phone, the background highway noise was very noticeable in the resulting
recordings. However, the recordings made with the T28w had very faint background
noise. It wasn't quite as good as the noise suppression provided by the Timeport
on Clearnet, but it was markedly better than anything else I had experience on
Quite a few people have expressed
concern about the lack of a pullout antenna on the T28w. I therefore paid
special attention to the RF performance of the phone under weak signals
conditions. I tested the T28w against a Nokia 6190, and a Mitsubishi G310. The
6190 also has fixed antenna, but the G310 includes a pullout antenna.
In actual conversations, I could find
very little difference between the T28w and either of those other phones. In
fact, the T28w managed to hang onto calls slightly better than either the 6190
or the G310 under severe conditions. That isn't to say that there was very much
difference, but it was enough to at least notice.
The other area of concern was how much
signal the phone lost when placed in a shirt pocket. I have found that virtually
all GSM phones suffer a little when put into shirt pockets, but some seem to be
worse than others. The 6190 and the 5190 are still the reigning kings when it
comes to signal loss inside pockets. The T28w fell somewhere between the 6190,
and the markedly better G310. However, I never felt that I was losing all that
much signal, and I don't believe that there is any valid concern here.
Note on RF performance: Keep in mind that I can only test the T28w at 1900 MHz. This is a world phone, supporting 900 MHz as well. It is quite possible that the T28w could perform much better (or much worse) at that frequency. It is therefore strongly recommended that you consult reviews written outside of North America for performance data at 900 MHz.
Overall however, despite some negatives, the T28w is an excellent phone. It is small, light, good sounding, and it provides active noise suppression. It is certainly a much better deal the 8890, due to its much lower price. If you're looking for a small phone, then the T28w is certainly the way to go.