November 24, 2004

Treo 650? Don't Buy It

I purchased the Treo 600 last year. I love the integration in a single device. Camera, Palm Pilot for calendar and contacts, MP3 Player, web access, all with the phone. One device. The camera isn't great, but in a pinch.. you've got it, and the web access is slow.. and the palm OS is funky a lot of the time.

But the phone itself, the four phones I've had since I bought it one year ago today, have never been right.

* All four broke in the same way: the up/down volume on the phone is right in the spot where you hold the phone as you talk. During a call, after a while, it's easy to push the volume up, not realize it, and at the top level, the next time the person speaks, the outgoing speaker blows out. After that, you can only talk using a headset. The fifth one is on the verge of breaking... I can tell the speaker is on it's way out... it's getting funny even as I try to keep the volume on low.

* The Infrared worked on the first phone... which I had from last December through Jan 15 when the speaker blew. The following three have never had working inferred.

* Calls have to be dialed at least three times before they actually "take" and are put through to Cingular, starting with the firmware that came with phones 5 and 5, which is 03.05.

So here is what happened to the phones:
Phone 1: Dec, 03 - Jan 04.. replacement came in mid Feb 04. For one month, I could only talk using a headset. Incredibly frustrating and annoying. Treo 600 Serial no: HAAAD3463A00V

Phone 2: Feb 04 - May 04.. replacement came in June, 04. Serial No: HAAAD3463A0BL. Inferred never worked. Speaker blew in May, 04. Could only talk on headset.

Phone 3: June, 04 - July 04.. Serial No: HAAAD3453A0GB. Infrared never worked so I couldn't trade biz cards. Speaker blew -- so could only talk on headset. Replacement in September.. was busy and just couldn't deal with the whole nightmare again.

Phone 4: October 04 - Nov 04. Serial No: HAAAD4366A1VR. Speaker is going out on it now, infrared has never worked. Most called have to be dialed three times before the phone will attempt to connect to the network. Web access is hard to get going. Also, the phone jams constantly, and I am continuously resetting the phone by putting a little pin Palm provideds into the back of the machine. This is really annoying too, especially if the phone jams on a call or in the middle of something important. The whole thing just freezes. Resetting means redialing whatever call you were on, and if it's somewhere where you already waited on hold, you have to start all over.

Interestingly, when I called on the most recent phone, and they looked up the old serial no.s, they were registered to other people. Which means that Palm fixed the problem and sent the phone on to others, probably as a refurbished model. But they were mine first, and even though they were defective. In fact, these phones are so prone to breaking in the speaker on high volume, that when I call, they don't even ask me to check the phone. They just offer to send another.

However, since I'm at the end of the warranty, with a partially broken phone that will be fully broken shortly, I'm returning the last one and demanding a refund.. based on this information California Bureau of Electronic and Appliance Repair MANUFACTURERS, DISTRIBUTORS, RETAILERS AND WARRANTY SERVICE DEALERS Advisory - Warranty Disclosures - May 2004 which is more fully stated in the CA civil code:

Though I should note that the original phone, and all the replacements, never came with this disclosure.

So, why not buy the Treo 650? Well, the 650 does apprently fix the speaker problem, but does not have compatible connectors.. in other words, everything you bought for the Treo 600, like a car adaptor, or keyboard, or USB power/sync for your laptop, won't work on the Treo 650. How cynical is Palm anyway? That's ridiculous. This phone is a year old, and if I wanted to upgrade, I would be out of luck on all that stuff. And frankly their answer for all my problems is to just keep replacing the phone, instead of actually fixing the defect and giving me a good phone.

They don't care about customers. I now regret the 20 or so people I got to buy the phone, including my doctor, who bought one for her daughter, during a checkup I had. They are incredibly unreliable, and throwing more money at Palm for the 650 would be a real mistake.

Posted by Mary Hodder at November 24, 2004 08:46 AM | TrackBack

Um, as you know, I just bought a Sidekick II for -$25 from Amazon. I think the deal now nets to $0, with a one-year contract. It isn't an open platform and I still have to lug around my Tungsten-c, but it has super-sweet 24x7 IM (AIM and Yahoo Messenger now), a much better phone, a camera better than the Treo and a few other goodies. And the flippy keyboard is made for thumb typing; it's great. Come to the Dark Side!

Posted by: Jerry Michalski at November 24, 2004 12:57 PM

If you can live without the camera, the Blackberry is hands down the best phone/pda.

Posted by: Brian Sugar at November 24, 2004 01:56 PM

My experience with the Palm 270 has been identical! Palm will, seemingly, replace phones for ever but can't quite bring themselves to design one that truly works. Most frustrating (especially if you need the Palm OS.)

Posted by: Brian at December 2, 2004 08:25 AM

I, too am on my fourth 600 in six months. Love the integration, but the phone(s) has an odd habit of dying (as in fried power source) at the most inconvenient times.
A BB just does not do the trick--I'm wedded to the apps available on PALM OS.

Posted by: Melissa at December 3, 2004 07:03 AM

from customer point of view, i've never understood the way in which these companies make it hard to upgrade... nokia have been doing it for years. every new model requires new accessories, car kit, etc. it's nuts, and certainly doesn't do much to lock you into the brand if you have to upgrade everything everytime you upgrade phones.

Posted by: ob1 at December 3, 2004 07:29 PM

Mary and Melissa: It's surprising to me that both of you have had so many problems with your Treo 600(s). I'd chalk it up to bad early adopter luck except that I purchased mine around the same time Mary bought hers. The only problem I ever had was that the slimy bastards at AT&T sold me a locked phone.

I'm curious, are your Treos the CDMA (i.e. Sprint) or GSM (Cingular, T-Mobile, AT&T) version? I have the GSM version. Is it possible that the problems you two had are specific to the CDMA version?

ob1: There's actually a reason why the handset makers' behavior seems at odds with the interests of consumers. It's because, here in the US, the handset makers aren't actually selling their phones to end-users. They sell them to the cell phone carriers. As far as Nokia is concerned, you are not the customer, Cingular (or T-Mobile or Verizon) is.

Things are different in Europe where everyone `agreed' on (read: the European governments mandated) a single standard for the cellular network, GSM, early on. Europe's standardized cellular network is not hampered by the artificial barriers to competition that are inherent in the States' balkanized cellular network, and this led to the development of a consumer-centric market for handsets.

I know that the difference in the economics of the European market vs. the US market leads to different feature sets in US and European phones. I wonder if it also results in better backwards compatibility for accessories in Europe.

Posted by: Daniel C. Silverstein at December 4, 2004 03:28 AM

You told a shorter version of my story. I met Palm with the Palm III, then the V, followed by the 515 and now the Tungsten W. I have replaced at least three of each model and am now on my 6th Tungsten W. I am a captive customer since they always send a replacement overnight mail FREE. I have been patiently waiting to buy the much touted Treo WHEN they incorporate Bluetooth that is necesary to use a new vehicle manufacturer's phone system...UNTIL you nixed my plan. Let us know if Palm provides a $ refund ...the legal class action is the last alternative.

Posted by: Sam at December 4, 2004 10:50 AM

have u tried any of the Microsoft Phones? They rock! i'm sure u'll luv em, they come in two varities - Pocket PC Phone Editions (these are those Treo types - PDA first, phone next - lets you do spread sheets, documnet editing apart from internet access ofcourse, check out XDA 2) and then there is the SmartPhone's - these are Phones first PDA's next - allows internet access, media player but not document editing (viewing only).

Posted by: TheOne_v7 at December 7, 2004 03:16 AM

I'm surprised! My Treo 600 has been awesome, no problems at all (except the "weak" quality of the colors in it's digital camera).
Maybe it's because I got one of the very early batches when it was 1st introduced. Maybe the quality was better early on..?

Posted by: lunatic at September 20, 2005 05:51 PM

Oh, it's my story all over again. I bought my Treo 600 as soon as it came out in Bham, AL which was July 2004 and it began having problems almost immediately. My first Treo had the usual horrible buzzing sounds along with so many additional problems that there are just too many to list. Basically I called Cingular for months before Palm reluctantly agreed to exchange it with a rebuilt version. They tried to say my problems were caused by third party software ...which came loaded on it as a trial which I later purchased as a full package from ...PalmOne. However to get the new Treo I had to give them my credit card number "just in case". In Case of what-in case the problem was deemed to be caused by me. And who decides that? You guessed it-they do. In the end I decided not to send it back but paid for it again. I didn't want to be out the money and the Treo so now i have paid $499 for the first one and $449 for ....well the first one.
The 2nd Treo, Well same as everyone else. Didn't work from the get-go. Have had to use a head-set from the start. And I did hard-reset and reload this thing many times just on the off-chance that this "third-party software" may have caused problems. Funny thing is I have purchased it all from PalmOne. I was actually thinking of upgrading to the Treo 650 but now well won't be going there. A friend of mine in the UK went through 6 Treo 600's before ditching it for good. I had a pocket pc before the Treo came out. Think I will switch back. The new Motorola Razor coming out in 2006 is looking nice. They call it the Treo Killer. Think PalmOne actually could claim that one.
Check it out on

Posted by: Rhonda_in_Bham at September 20, 2005 07:08 PM

Microsoft phone? You trust the people that brought you Internet Explorer with your mobile device security and data?

Posted by: Jim at September 20, 2005 07:15 PM

I have had a Treo 650 for about four months and it has been great. I wonder it the problems are due to people improperly handling and using the phones. Did you have it in a case to protect the screen and other features?

Posted by: John at September 20, 2005 08:25 PM

Um. I've owned a 600 for almost 2 years now and never experienced the problems you did.

I do agree its crappy to make the 650 accessories incompatible, but that is common practice. Its not accurate to single out palm for this.

Posted by: dan_in_florida at September 20, 2005 11:00 PM

What a Joke..If you use the device as intented it works perfect. If you starting intalling poorly written programs. Then throw a few hacks on top of that..What else would anyone expect.

Posted by: Jim at September 21, 2005 03:47 AM

I purchased my Treo 600 January 24,2005 and just after two months. I experienced screen pixels seems to be falling out and not displaying anything. It was weird for awhile because it slowly but surely moved ( like a snail, but no tracks! ) Then when it finally settled on number six on the dial screen, the edge of the "blot" has gotten darker. I have to scroll up and down to see what behind that blot. It was horrible. I send it back for exchange and was also asked to have my credit card in case I was at fault. I did asked who inspect these phones and make the decision. I was told that it is a third party. Somehow I got lucky because I did not pay for the second one.
I also experienced the phone locking up. One call hanged up for a long time and I could do anything. not even to turn the wireless connections off. Of course during the entire waiting, it was eating up my minutes!
Maybe the word "treo" meant just to "try" and find out how much headache you can get or how much it will actually cost you in the long run.
I promise to buy only the simplest phone possible the next time.

Posted by: Apollo at September 21, 2005 06:18 AM

Hi Jim,
If you read my post, you'll see that the reason that the now *six* copies of the Treo 600 I've owned have all failed the same way:

becuase of a hardware defect in the volume control. I had a version that came out in the first two weeks, and subsequent versions that have come out over the following year and a half.

I stopped installing any additional software after about the third phone, stopped even setting up email, because each new setup was a pain, and really, there is no reason to do it. Each phone breaks after a short period because the volume control is messed up and it blows the speaker.

I also have a number of firends who's screens have gotten the ever-growing dark 'sun' in the middle of their screen, as Apollo noted.


Posted by: mary hodder at September 21, 2005 06:37 AM

Yup. I'm on my 4th Treo 600. Each one has failed the same way - just one day stopped being able to connect calls that were dialed, then a few days later unable to receive calls.

I don't expect much more from this one.

Posted by: Jason at September 21, 2005 09:44 AM

I had the same experience with my treo 600. The first one the had poor reception and the speaker blew out, the second one they sent didn't work out of the box, the third one's screen broke, and I can't even remember the problems I had with the fourth or fifth one. Eventually I couldn't get the phone replaced without paying a large fee because the warranty expired. I decided to upgrade to the 650 and have minimal problems- my only complaints are that the volume is too low (fixed with volumecare from and the small amount of internal memory (which is crucial, even if you have an expansion card, because the prc files need to reside on the internal memory. Still waiting for problems on the 650...

Posted by: nydave at September 24, 2005 01:48 PM

I have had 7 Treos in 21 months. I also made many recommendations to friends who rushed out and bought them. I am slightly cagey in conversations when the problem litany starts in.

I have had various problems including: speaker/sound volume problems; pixel dropout/death resulting in the growing sun; buzzing and chirping to the point noone can hear me; no incoming sound (everyone could hear me, I could hear noone, perhaps ideal? ;-)); call disconnects; system resets during calls;....the list is a little overwhelming. I admit to being a "power user" - on my phone a lot. And, the irritation has been great.

Why have I stuck with the Treo? Because it is what I would want to have if it worked, and more importantly because the warranty covers replacement not refund.

The software is flakey; the hardware sucks. Would a class action suit do anything to improve the design?

Posted by: Elizabeth at September 24, 2005 06:09 PM

Addendum following a re-read of posts: I started with Sprint, went to AT&T and had problems both times. The last three phones (one Sprint, last two AT&T), I didn't set up email either because it was too much of a pain. No additional software, just the basic software that came with the phone. I just talk a lot, take photos to the SD card, and put entries into my calendar.

Posted by: Elizabeth at September 24, 2005 06:15 PM

I wonder can we see a trend Treo 600 vs 650 in terms of reliability

Posted by: Dan at September 26, 2005 12:25 PM

For those out there with Treo 600s and 650s that work perfectly: GOOD FOR YOU! Please go on enjoying your device. I've got a 650 on Verizon, and have had unacceptable voice quality and reception problems that never occurred with my previous phone on Verizon.

Clearly, if all Treos were crap, they couldn't sell them. It seems instead as though Palm has serious quality-control problems, leading a high proportion of troubled units. If you're talking about a 10% problem rate with the Treos, most people are still satisfied. But given the strong sales of Treos, that unhappy 10% (just for illustration folks) is still a lot of people. It's all the more galling because they are expensive devices.

From the pile of posts and articles I've now read, I'd guess there's a combination of quality-control problems and design flaws that mean that some people end up with a really bad experience -- and some relive the same fault over multiple units.

It's really too bad -- other than the phone problems, I really like the 650. But after two warranty repairs on my previous Tungsten T, a class action suit* on the m125 that preceded it (and I did lose data due to the failure), I've lost quite a bit of confidence in Palm. It seems that they're not willing to acknowledge and correct faulty handhelds unless hauled into court. My experience with customer service has also been poor.

* See:

Posted by: Jeremy at September 26, 2005 04:00 PM

Had a Treo 300. The Hinge broke. Had insurance. Rockline replaced it for a Treo 650 for $50 deductible. Only problems I've had was when I installed squirrelly software.

Posted by: Russell at September 26, 2005 06:13 PM

I've had a Treo 600 for 13 months. It functioned relatively well (although not entirely smoothly) over the year; but enough to keep me using it and relatively happy. The problems - namely rebooting itself spontaneously, system hang-ups for several minutes mid-activity, and occasional choppiness of voice messages so bad I couldn't make out the words - escalated steadily over the last several months. Last week, my Treo hit a brick wall (well, not literally) while I was on a business trip overseas: it refused to turn on to Wireless mode, leaving me with a unit that was useful only as a PDA with no wireless/phone capabilities. The Treo has now been handed to my tech support department for follow-up with Palm. In the mean time, I'm using a regular cellphone and missing the mobile email... or not ;)

An irritating software issue of note: the Contacts address book duplicated entries every time it synced with my regular work-station Outlook, with the result that I had an address book in my Treo that was about quadruple the actual size due to each contact appearing multiple times. We tried seeking support from Palm but they cited a 3rd party sw developer issue. Fair enough. Still, this bloating of information made using the Treo more cumbersome. I lived with it because there's only so much time you want to invest in resolving an issue like that, and waited for a sw patch.

In summary, the Treo would be a wonderful tool if a few of the key problems could be resolved. I have one friend whose Treo seems to work smoothly and another whose doesn't, so the product's problems are not universal. Based on what I've read however, the spontaneous rebooting and freezing/hang-up issues are not uncommon so I'm following the lawsuit with interest to see if there are any reasonable recourse options for those of us who wound up with buggy units.

Posted by: Heli at September 27, 2005 10:41 AM

I just made my second business trip with my new Treo 650 and each time a different function stopped working and left me without data. I bought this thing so I could leave my laptop in the car an have all my contacts, calendar, e-mail access, etc in my pocket. I quickly learned not to depend on the Treo, took it back to Cingular within the 30 days and got a refund. For those of you who stuck it out...sorry. I bailed. I, too, thought the integration of so many tools would be wonderful, but I've found out that too many gadgets in the same small box means that nothing works completely well. I'm back to the old Zire and free Nokia cellphone. They always work, anywhere. Hope you technofreaks enjoy spending more time solving problems with your smart?phones than you do getting work done.

Posted by: Mickey Dorsey at September 27, 2005 03:54 PM

I received a Treo 650 as a result of an insurance replacement for my Kyocera smartphone. So far my Treo has worked wonderfully.

The only real complaint I have with it is the fact that this phone has trouble with coverage. I am on Verizon and never had problems with my Kyocera. It appears there is nothing that can be done for this issue - or so I have been told.

Posted by: Edward Fultz at September 28, 2005 06:24 AM

I'm on my 5th Treo 650 from Cingular. They send "refurbished" phones as a replacement. My issues still persist. Support acknowledged these problems and tell me to just wait for an update.

I have spent hundreds of dollars more to buy software to replace the Palm trash !!!!!!!!!!! If the 3rd party programs can fix issues why the hell can't palm issue fixes or patches.

You should seriously consider NOT buying a Treo 650.

Posted by: Barry Meskin at October 3, 2005 01:59 PM

The 650 is total garbage. To voice dial you have to buy extra software. Never had to do that before on a phone. Worse, it does not work well most of the time and continues to lock down saying that the trial period is over though I paid for the software! Now it will not accept the registration key.

I will never buy another product by Palm again.

Product is crap and there is no support.

Posted by: Mike Swett at October 4, 2005 12:00 PM

i'm asking myself: how can it be that i've never ran through your site before? it's a great one! amazing 3d effect: , 1 small clove garlic

Posted by: charles baker at October 6, 2005 05:45 PM

I've been using Palm since the beginning, when the big clunky Casio was the product of the day (1991). I've had every unit designed by Mr. Hawkins since then. I have a museum of pieces to prove it.

I’ve had a 600 from inception. It had a few bugs, but nothing I couldn't live with… and the unit was the compelling combination that kept my belt from looking like a NASA class satellite.

After waiting for some time, I jumped ship from TMobile, because they would not pass the 650 for quality, and I wanted one :) Unfortunately, TMobile was right… the unit has problems. Now here is the thing that gets me… With TMobile and my Treo 600, I could get 5 bars anywhere in my house. In fact while on client sites, my TMobile/600 got calls much to the amazement of the people around me who swore they couldn’t get reception at all with their wireless devices. With Cingular and my Treo 650, however, I get 2 bars in my house at best, and most of the time I’m in SOS mode, which is totally unacceptable as I am a consultant and my cell is my mainline to my clients.

I got my second unit today, (I must say that Cingular does customer service incredibly well!)

So my observations are that the unit tends to do weird stuff when Cingular’s signal gets wonky. Sometimes it turns itself on, sometimes it turns itself off, and other times it reboots. I’m not sure if the thing we are seeing isn’t a ‘too-close’ relationship with the radio receiver and the power sequence software. I’m fairly certain that the both unit’s issue with ‘scratchy audio’ is a feedback loop from internal amp, transmitter and receiver. That problem was easily worked around for me because I don’t use the amp as I don’t like to put my face on the screen and thus use a headset all the time.

Anyway, I’m contemplating now the cost of going back to the 600. The screen resolution is a lot better in the 650… but truthfully, I don’t think it’s worth the cost. I’m pretty sure I’m headed back to TMobile, and the tried and relatively less-buggy 600.

Like many, I'm keeping my eye on it, we all want it badly, and have proven that we will buy it, not matter the cost.

Posted by: Dee Roche at October 14, 2005 11:40 AM

yea Treo 650 some are good & some are bad the 1st one I had, I can call pple, can hear them but they can't hear me. and the speaker are broken. then I trade in get another Treo 650, till now still working pretty fine and I had like few month. hope the phone work fine till my contract is over hehe

Posted by: Tam Nguyen at November 15, 2005 11:48 PM

Firstly, I love the Treo 600. However, I went through three Treo 600's in about two years.

The first one had a problem with Rogers software and started hanging up regularly (GSM locked). The second one had a blemish on the screen on arrival. The third one worked well until the screen spontaneously went. I do take care of my Treos with a very solid case.

Palm has replaced my Treo 600 with a 650. I don't care for most of the changes even though I like the better camera and the bluetooth connectivity. I dislike the new buttons and controls and I especially dislike that my styluses and extra power cords from the 600 don't work with the 650. What a ripoff!

Posted by: Treo lover at May 5, 2006 11:21 AM

I have a Treo 650 through Bell Mobility here in Canada. I think the unit is limitless in talents. One has to remember to revolve around the Palm platform and not to expect the Palm format to encircle you with impossible expectations.

Posted by: Phillips Gove Merritt at May 27, 2006 10:49 PM