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Qualcomm 860/1960 Review
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Qualcomm 860 The new Qualcomm 860/1960 handsets came out in early June 1999. I had a chance to try out one: tested was a Telus Mobility/Clearnet PCS QCP-1960, version EQ1.0.02.

Availability and Price

There are two related models of this handset: the 860 provides digital CDMA and AMPS analog service using the 800 MHz frequency (used by Telus Mobility) and the 1960 provides digital only CDMA service using the 1900 MHz frequency (Telus, Bell, Sprint PCS).
Telus Mobility/Clearnet PCS is selling this phone for $99, which includes a $50 credit for long distance, additional airtime, or directory assistance.


The 1960 is a digital only phone (no analog roaming). For Telus Mobility/Clearnet customers your coverage areas are currently limited to: Victoria, Vancouver, Edmonton to Calgary, London, Windsor, Greater Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal, Quebec City, and Halifax. Telus Mobility customers using the 860 may use the phone in Telus digital mode for most of the major urban centres in BC and analog mode for smaller centres. Note that BC Telus customers will not be able to use the digital portion of this handset to roam in Alberta, Ontario, or Quebec (they can still roam in analog mode). US roaming: Telus customers will be able to roam anywhere where Telus has roaming agreements with 800 MHz CDMA or AMPS providers.

Physical Dimensions and Battery Life

This is one THIN phone, not more than 1.9cm (0.7") thick and approximately 14cm (5.5") high (plus antenna) and 5.2cm (2.0") wide. The shape is almost box-like and moderately sturdy. The phone weights in at 120g (4.2oz). Using just the included internal battery under optimal conditions will give up about 2 hours talk or about 48 hours standby time. You may add either a slim external battery (up to 6h talk, 7d standby) or an extended external battery (up to 10h talk, 10-17d standby).


If you've owned a Sony/Qualcomm PCS phone before, the first impression from this handset that you will get is 'hey, this is a close copy'. In many regards the top display line is very similar with the inverse 'D' icon, signal strength indicators, battery strength, and roam icon, but just moved around. A divergence in similarities occurs from this point onwards. Like the Sony phones, you have a banner of 12 characters that is changeable, and the two lines below that give you the date and time just like all other CDMA phones, however, just in case you have forgotten what day of the week it is, the phone will also tell you that it is Monday. Unlike the patent Jog-dial of the Sony's, Qualcomm has used a menu scheme similar to the current Nokia's and the iDEN i1000 models: the bottom line of the display panel gives options that are userchangeable using two menu keys immediately below the display. Basically what they have done is moved the original SEND and END keys up to make them a little more useful.
The display panel has a similar transparent plastic as the Sony phone and is prone to scratches from keys or anything else you might scrape across the panel. The command keys have a somewhat tactile feel to them, but a positive press was required to input any command. Overall the number keys are moderately small, and in the case of the CLR key, it is very small, which I found annoying since I tend to use it a lot to correct phone numbers and backtrack through menu commands. The PWR button has also migrated to the bottom of the phone. There is also a new Information key at the bottom of the phone. In terms of phone number memory locations, you are still limited to 99 entries.
In terms of menu choices and features: 10 standard ringer sounds, keyguard, all calls and recent call timers, auto-off, voice and text messages -- all similar to the Sony models. Qualcomm has added a few neat twists to the menus: multiple NAM selection, an ability to turn roaming off, timers for local and roaming calls, and data/fax features. The data/fax features include: receive data or fax next call OR receive data or fax until power off. One other neat feature is the 'Unwired planet browser', a little web browser utility hidden in the mailbox menu.
Sound quality was good on the limited calls I could make. The volume selection controls are on the side of the handset making them difficult to adjust while using the phone. You either need a very flexible thumb or your other hand.


A nice little phone. It is not too small that you constantly check to see if you still have it. The menus have been moderately improved over the original Sony/Qualcomm dual mode phones available through Mobility. I think the idea of having a phone with menus for data and fax show that we are getting closer to having your entire office in a handset. The 1960 single mode may be a concern if you plan to travel with this phone; if you plan to mainly use it in the city, then you will have little problem in terms of service areas.
Quick Comparison Chart
Technology860: CDMA/AMPS
1960: CDMA
Frequencies860: 800 MHz
1960: 1900 MHz
Dimensions14cm x 5.2cm x 1.9cm
5.5" x 2.0" x 0.7"
Weight120 g or 4.2 oz
Talk time2h; 6h; 10h
Standby time2d; 7d; 10d
Display4 lines
Menu lang.Eng ?
Ring tones10
Mem loc.99
Signal str. ind.Yes
Battery ind.Yes
Date/TimeTime only
Text msg len.120 chars
Any key ans.Yes
Message ind.Yes
Alarm clockNo
Data capableYes

Field Test

From the main screen enter in the following order: Menu, 5, 0 (zero), then enter the field debug test code. For Telus Mobility this code is 000000, for Sprint PCS this code is 040793, for older Telus Mobility/Clearnet PCS handsets this code is 183729.