It doesn't take an industry insider to notice that T-Mobile's been putting together plans for a UMA service to bridge their GSM network with public and home hotspots here in the States. We've also guessed that Samsung's T709 would be involved, and though we still don't have anything approaching an official confirmation, these pictures have filled in some blanks for us. Sent in by a handful of intrepid beta testers risking life and limb for the public good, we see here that the T709 looks to be T-Mobile's launch handset as expected, sporting a 1.3-megapixel camera, GSM 850 / 1800 / 1900 with EDGE, roughly 69MB usable flash, and media player. They have at least two routers in the works -- a Linksys and a D-Link -- though the only difference from your average 802.11b/g router appears to be the addition of a button to facilitate painless, secure hookup to your phone without entering a WEP / WPA key. Our respective tipsters report differeing experiences however: one said it works well, improves reception, and has no complaints; another said UMA performance leaves a lot to be desired, and besides draining battery juice at a breakneck pace (8-9 hours standby), voice quality is poor without perfect WiFi reception, and GSM / WiFi handoffs are currently a bit flaky with frequent dropouts. Of course, this is all still in beta and we'll reserve judgement until T-Mobile gives the signal -- which shouldn't be too terribly long, considering the beta materials have retail packaging -- but the T709 sadly lacks Bluetooth and any sort of memory expansion, meaning we're already in a holding pattern for second-generation devices.

















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