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.