HTC T-Mobile MDA Vario III review -


Review by Sunetra Chakravati, 2/2/2012 2:57:48 PM

10out of 10
8 out of 5
Look and feel
8 out of 5
Ease of use
10 out of 5
8 out of 5
Battery life

Unique to the MDA Vario III, the tilting screen gives the device that added feel of truly being a pocket PC.


It's not light and those who prefer a more subtle smartphone might shy away from a handset of this size.

The T-Mobile MDA Vario III is the latest device to emerge from the stable of prolific smartphone manufacturer HTC and it looks like a thoroughbred.

HTC has now made three MDA Vario smartphones for T-Mobile. We rated number II as one of the best in its class of bulky, powerful smartphones, with a decent slide-out keypad, Windows Mobile 5.0 operating system, a two-megapixel camera and HSDPA speeds of up to 1.8Mbps. Well, the new MDA Vario III is just as hefty, but offers even more functionality.

Tilting screen

The Vario III is powered by the latest Windows Mobile 6 operating system and boasts Wi-Fi, a GPS receiver and a three-megapixel camera with auto-focus. It's also one of the first devices to promise HSDPA speeds of up to 3.6Mbps. Yet the Vario III's main selling point is the unique tilting screen that can be positioned anywhere from face down to a 45° angle, which means you don't have to look down on the screen.

Sliding open the large 2.8-inch screen reveals the large QWERTY keypad that is spacious when compared with the standard offerings from the likes of BlackBerry, Nokia and Palm. The large keys are positioned in such a way that writing a long document shouldn't result in endless typos or time-wasting corrections.

The touch-sensitive screen is not overly sensitive and the handset comes with a longer, slimmer stylus than the Vario II, which enhances its usability. The front of the phone is silver and dominated by the screen, which takes up over two thirds of the fascia. The keys on display are made up of the following buttons: talk; end; navigation pad; OK; messaging; menu and left and right soft keys. The only other button found on the front of the handset is a key that will take you straight into T-Mobile's Web'n'Walk internet service.

Internet speeds

With both built-in Wi-Fi and HSDPA speeds of 3.6Mbps, surfing the internet on the Vario III is an absolute dream. Pages upload quickly and downloads are just as fast. Pages can be viewed in portrait or landscape mode (by simply sliding out the keyboard), which means that a vast amount of content can be displayed at any one time.

The Vario III's GPS capability benefits from the CoPilot Live 7 sat nav maps and software pre-loaded onto the device. Locking onto position proved effortless and the GPS signal remained strong throughout our testing.

The camera quality is adequate without being mind-blowing, with different contrasts in light sometimes proving problematic. It does pack some nice functions though, including a burst mode that takes a staggering 30 shots in quick succession. What's more, thanks to the fast HSDPA connection, video calling works better than it ever did on the Vario II.

All of these superb features make the Vario III somewhat weighty. Yet a slight bulge in your pocket seems like a minor sacrifice for a device that does pretty much everything. T-Mobile's MDA Vario III has all the makings of being a classic.