Precious Phones

By Team Digit | Published on 01 Oct 2005
Precious Phones
O2 Xphone II

O2's Xphone II runs on Microsoft's Windows Mobile 2003 unlike others which run the Symbian OS, and this second iteration has been tweaked more than just a bit!

With executive styling, this candy bar style phone sure looks polished. Clever use of black and grey gives it a pleasant aesthetic appeal. The solid construction and feel that O2 products are known for is evident.

The front facia is occupied by the large 2.2-inch TFT display. The screen, though, is no match for Samsung's or Nokia's high-end phones. This 65K colour screen is capable of displaying 176 x 220 pixels, which is sufficient.

The stub-like joystick is slick and complements the rest of the keys. However, we did find the soft menu buttons too small. The stepped key pad-though cramped-does not hamper operation. 

On the back panel is the small VGA-class camera, which seems a little lost in the race, when competitors have megapixel offerings and the quality of photos is reasonably good.

Powering the Xphone II is Texas Instrument's OMAP 200 MHz processor that makes Windows zoom on this device. The phone comes with 32 MB ROM and 64 MB Flash memory. To further boost memory capability, a mini-SD slot is provided-not hot swappable, though. Despite such speedy hardware the phone does take nearly a minute to boot up.

On the software front, Windows Mobile 2003 for smart phones is rich with applications. The best part of having Windows is the ease of synchronisation with desktop applications such as Outlook.

SMS, MMS and e-mail, along with Internet Explorer keeps you connected. Messaging is a bit tardy and should have been just a click away, instead of three.

For short range communication Bluetooth and Infrared is available along with a USB sync port. The three-day battery life is reasonably good considering the big screen.

Priced around Rs 16,500, the O2 Xphone II is the phone for professionals-if they can break away from Nokia and Sony Ericsson (SE), that is!

Samsung SGH-E730

Mastering the art of designing great clamshell phones, and taking another step forward is the SGH-E730 cell phone.

Measuring 87 x 44 x 23 and weighing just 88 gm, the E730 sets new benchmark for compactness in the clamshell design- it's Compact.

Aesthetically, the E730 looks much better than the E700. The new piano-black finish comes straight off its expensive sibling, the SGH-D500. A dark grey variant is also available.

The E730 incorporates an OLED external display.  This 65K colour OLED is  sharp and can be set to display a good picture or just tell the time with a classy analogue watch.

Just below the small display are three hot keys for the MP3 player and FM radio. While above the screen is the 1.3 MP camera and a tiny flash.
Flip open the phone and a razor sharp 262K colour screen hits you in the eye. Like all Samsung screens, the display on the E730 is vibrant. The silver keypad has decent size buttons and are easy on the fingers. With nice tactile feedback, they are a boon for SMS junkies. The flap does seem a little fragile, though...

The E730 also has the same camera as the one on the SGH-D500, and borrows both, the good and bad from it. Video recording is ok, but can't replace your handycam!

The SGH-E730 also has a good Media player capable of playing MP3s and AAC files at decent volumes. A FM receiver with 30 station memory is also bundled in the E730 and requires the headset to be connected.
Connectivity options include Bluetooth and USB. Other features include video and voice recording, 64 polyphonic ring tones, SMS, EMS, MMS, e-mail, and Java 2.0.

The SGH-E730 has a memory capacity of 96 MB, shared dynamically between applications and again, memory expansion is not possible.

Priced at Rs 17,000 the SGH-E730 from Samsung is quite a device if you are looking for a smart, flip-open, compact and feature-rich cell phone. We think it would grace a Lady's hand much better...
Nokia 8800

If lifestyle is all about getting noticed, then nothing beats the Nokia 8800 for the sheer attention it can get you. While using exotic materials such as Titanium and Carbon fibre is a rising trend, Nokia has resorted to good-old steel to armour the 8800. As a result, it tips the scales at 137 grams and feels heavy but still exudes an unmatched burly feel. Yes, it's a mans phone!

The 8800 has one of the best slider mechanisms we have seen on a cell phone. Sliding down the cover reveals a black-and-silver keypad, lit by a soothing white back-light.

Design apart, the 8800 is also strewn with good features! Most prominent of them is the brilliant 262K, 208 x 208 pixels, 1.7-inch colour display screen. The screen is protected by tempered sapphire glass, otherwise seen on expensive watches to avoid accidental scratches.

On the multimedia front, the 8800 is equipped with a 0.5 mp camera (hardly impressive), an FM tuner and a media player capable of playing AAC and MP3 files. The quality of photos is strictly average, as is the audio quality.

Bluetooth, GPRS, EDGE and Tri-band support completes the connectivity options offered on the 8800.

The UI is a revamped series 40 affair-simple to use, but feels primitive for such a high-class device.

The phone comes with just 64 MB of inbuilt memory and no memory expansion options are available-beyond comprehension, when you have media player and Java 2.0 support.

The overall package is good with a steel desktop charger, an extra battery, a wired headset and a suede pouch.

Though audio quality and signal reception are as good as ever, the batteries do tend to run out quickly! With normal use, the battery barely lasts two days-so that spare battery that Nokia provides is handy!

Priced at Rs 44,000, the Nokia 8800 isn't something just anybody will buy, but no one's complaining. Considering Nokia's target audience for this phone, and its design philosophy, the 8800 achieves the desired impact with aplomb.

Motorola V3 Razr

Trendsetting designs have been the hallmark of many a Motorola cell phone, but somehow, they always fell short of critical acclaim due to shoddy implementation of great ideas. With the V3 Razr, Motorola changes that.  

The V3 sports a complete metallic body. Motorola resorted to space-grade alloys for the body panels making the V3 light yet strong. Measuring 96 x 50 x 12.7 mm and weighing just 95 gm, the V3 is by far the slimmest clamshell phone we have seen. This slim design gives the V3 its 'wow' factor, and is the reason for the Razr moniker.

 On the external flap, the V3 Razr has a small 4K colour screen that shows caller ID and also doubles as viewfinder for the camera when taking self-portraits. There are a few buttons on the sides for voice recording and to change profiles on the fly without opening the flap, too.

Opening the flap leads to a big 2.5-inch 256K colour screen capable of delivering crisp and vibrant pictures that are visible even in daylight. Unlike keypads on other phones with raised buttons, the keypad on V3 is flush with the body. Getting used to the flat keys with the short travel and blue back-light takes time.

The integrated VGA camera hardly compares with the competition; but considering the slim design, no standard camera modules would fit into it! It's a good thing that they didn't completely do away with it!

Feature-wise you get Quad band support, Bluetooth, a VGA camera with 4X digital zoom, GPRS, PIM functionality, MPEG 4 video playback and Java support. A Bluetooth headset is also included with the package for hands free operation.

The Razr V3 has only 5 MB of internal memory and no option for upgrading it. Though enough for most purposes, the skimpy memory support would keep power users away from this phone.

Priced at Rs 20,000, the V3 Razr is a head turner for sure and garners attention wherever it goes. Targeted towards fashion conscious buyers, this phone will make a statement anywhere!
Sony Ericsson W800i

In the wake of Apple iPod's phenomenal success it was but natural for Sony to revive it's once-iconic 'Walkman' brand in some form or other. The W800i from Sony-Ericsson (SE) is the first cell phone to sport the 'Walkman' logo and holds a lot of promise.

Weighing just 99 grams and measuring 100 x 47 x 21 mm, the W800i is light and compact; but don't be fooled by its diminutive size, for it packs some mean features.

The 1.8-inch, 262K colour screen is bright and crystal clear. The 176 x 220 pixel screen renders colours vividly and is a good aide for playing games or browsing through photos.

The joystick and the keypad on the W800i are good-SMS gurus will love it! The UI is pretty much unchanged and retains the same old charm.

The W800i comes with a classy 2 mp digicam-the same as on the K750i. On the phone side, the W800i is graced with GPRS, High Speed Circuit Switched Data, and offers tri-band support but no EDGE.

For short range communication Bluetooth, Infrared and USB 1.1 port is offered. The phone comes with 38 MB of internal memory and a Memory Stick Duo slot which can be used with the bundled 512 MB card. Java 2.0 support means you can make good use of that memory.  

W800i can be used as a phone or media player only-the media player mode increases battery life. SE has significantly improved the audio quality on the W800i and when coupled with the bundled Sony Fontopia ear buds, this cell can match any standalone MP3 player.

The player supports MP3 and AAC playback, but no support for DRM protected files such as those downloaded from iTunes or Napster.

One good thing SE has done is to include a standard 3.5 mm jack via the headset, which allows you to connect any earphone set to the phone or connect the phone to a Hi-Fi for heart thumping sound.  The W800i in Media Player mode can playback audio for about 18 hours before the battery runs out-more than enough.

Priced at Rs 25,000 the W800i is sensibly priced. Our verdict: have money, buy!

Sony-Ericsson K750i

The K750i is stylish, but not overtly so, making it a good phone for executives. The buttons have decent tactile feedback, but the five-way joystick is too sensitive and results in navigation errors-until you get used to it! 

The 2 mp camera is perhaps its best feature and also has a decent flash. There are various digital camera options such as 4X zoom, Macro mode, Night mode, a cool Panorama mode for shooting wide scenes, and even a Burst mode for capturing four shots in quick succession.

In movie mode, you have the option of either shooting for MMS or high-quality video. The autofocus feature with the 2 MP camera is something every other manufacturer should try and emulate. Overall, the camera is excellent. 

Special controls include a media button on the left, which launches either FM or your media player. On the right are volume controls that double up as zoom controls when in camera mode and the shutter button to click!

Above the joystick is an application button that gives you quick access to various functions.

The speaker is quite low and can hardly be heard on our noisy streets and coupled with a mild vibrator, you are sure to miss a few calls if it's in your pocket. You cannot listen to FM without plugging in the bundled handsfree, and you cannot set the phone to ring both via the external speaker as well as in the handsfree earphones-only when set to silent mode does it ring in-ear!

Bluetooth, GPRS, Infrared, and the bundled USB cable are the various modes of short range communication. The K750i is equipped with 32 MB of internal memory and a 64 MB Memory Stick Duo (MSD) is bundled with the package-you can get as much as 2 GB of space using the MSD slot!

Overall, the phone is great to use, has tons of functions, a great camera and excellent battery life of about three days at normal usage.
At Rs 19,995, the K750i is appropriately priced and makes for a great phone for all occasions.
Nokia 6680 / 6681

These cosmetically identical twins from Nokia push up its venerable smartphone line a notch above the rest. The Nokia 6680, the elder sibling, offers more features and is priced accordingly. Apart from some niche features, these two phones are identical in looks as well as performance.

Aesthetically, both phones have a bland and unappealing look. We did rather like the looks of the older 6630, 3G-enabled smartphone better. The 6680 comes in a pale blue colour with dabs of chrome and plastic thrown in on the front face that make this phone look cheap. The 6681, on the other hand, looks slightly better in its silver outfit despite the chrome treatment it has received.

Though the keys on the keypad are of reasonable size, they aren't inspiring due to the lack of proper tactile feedback. Moreover, due to the use of transparent plastic keys, the backlight doesn't help much.

The 262K colour display screens present on both these phones are a delight to work with. They are crisp, render colour perfectly and have a good resolution of 176 x 208 pixels. Nokia has also added a light sensor that automatically reduces or boosts the brightness according to ambient light conditions-which should improve the battery life. The screens were perfectly legible, both, indoors and outdoors.

The Nokia 6680, being 3G-capable, is provided with two camera sensors-one in the front and the other, at the back. The standard 1.3 mp camera, placed on the back panel, is protected by a slider mechanism, which when opened, automatically powers the camera mode. The other 0.3 mp camera on the front is placed at the upper right hand corner and can be used for video conferencing. Since the 6681 isn't 3G capable, it doesn't need two cameras. It has the same 1.3 mp camera at the back with slider protection design as in the 6680.
The quality of photos taken by both phones is amazingly good-minimum noise and perfect colour rendition. Videos are good, but don't expect too much. The small LED flash isn't powerful enough and hence, effective at shorter distances only. Both phones are bundled with Photoshop Lite edition software. Due to unavailability of 3G support from providers, we couldn't test the video conferencing feature.

The UI is driven by the familiar Series-60 platform and comes with the usual software bundle. This time around, Nokia has fitted both phones with better processors, and it shows! The bundled PIM and e-mail application has improved a lot and is now much simpler to use.

The 6680 has 10 MB internal memory, while the 6681 has just 8 MB. Both phones come bundled with 64 MB RS-MMC card for those additional games one might be interested in. A memory slot on the side of the phone makes them hot swappable-a much better approach. 

Both phones are also tri-band capable and support GPRS and EDGE for high data connection. Both have Bluetooth and USB 2.0 via a Nokia proprietary pop port for short range communication. Battery life remains the same-two to three days with nominal usage.

The Nokia 6681 is priced at Rs 18,500, whereas the 6680 retails for Rs 24,000. Under the present conditions in India, with no 3G support from cellular providers it will be wise to opt for the 6681 over the 3G-ready 6680.

Nokia 3230  

Following the success of its hugely popular 6600, Nokia introduces another great smart phone for the masses-the 3230. Features abound and the 3230 is sensibly priced to appeal to the average buyer.

Designed in the traditional candy bar form factor, the 3230 is reasonably compact;   though the styling does mess up ergonomically.

The keypad is set far away from the top of the screen and feels a little cramped. The navigational buttons are just too hard and have deep travel making them uncomfortable to work with-till you get used to them. Moreover, the silver buttons with a white backlight make reading them hard-an oversight. But the 3230 is equipped with a nimble joystick that offers slick movements.

Moving on, the 65K colour screen as usual is brilliant. The screen does fade out in outdoor settings, but legibility is not affected.

On the back panel, right at the top is the 1.3 mp camera that takes amazing photographs.  The Nokia 3230 also allows shooting an hour-long video with the ability to edit the video on the device itself.

The 3230 supports loads of features: it is tri-band ready and supports GPRS and EDGE, enough for some fast data transfer.

Short range communication is via Bluetooth and USB via pop port. Multimedia capabilities include an MP3 player, FM receiver and Real Player. The games provided with 3230 are good and offer unlimited fun!

Nokia 3230 comes with a 32MB RS MMC card. But it is placed under the battery cover and isn't truly hot-swappable.

The UI on this phone isn't sluggish and feels great to use. Nokia has offered the usual set of applications, and they work great. PIM, messaging and e-mail works without any hiccups, but we will be glad to see some better synchronising capabilities in the future.

The Nokia 3230 retails for Rs 15,000 in India. It is a good entry-level smart phone for the 1.3 mp camera, great display and feature-rich application bundle. But remember the keypad issues before you buy it.
Sagem MyX-8

The MyX-8 from Sagem, is their top-of-the-line model combining good aesthetics with loads of features.

Designed by Ora-ito for Sagem, the combination of brushed aluminium and milky white plastic gives it an Apple-ish feel. The candy bar form factor measuring 115 x 47 x 20 mm and weighing 125 gm does not feel light or compact.

The front of the phone is dominated by the overly large TFT display. This 256K colour display offers the best in class resolution of 240 x 320. High resolution means  cleaner graphics and that's evident!

The white backlit keypad has small, elongated keys that are well spaced out but are hard to press. The small joystick is too recessed and defeats the very purpose of having it all together.

The 1.3 mp camera with 8X digital zoom is located on the back and has a shoddy user interface. Video recording is also available, but is accessible from a different menu.

Audio is probably the strongest point of this phone. The inbuilt speaker is so loud that people in the Digit office mistook it for multimedia speakers!

MP3 and AAC files can be played on it, and to store these songs, the MyX-8 is provided with a RS-MMC slot, which is awkwardly positioned at the base of the cell phone. Though hot swappable, you still need to remove the battery cover to access it, which is pointless.

The nice graphical user interface is decorated with smart looking colourful icons. However the grouping of menus,  can do with loads of improvement. Standard applications such as contact manager, calendar, etc., comes bundled with the phone. 

The MyX-8 is a tri-band phone and supports GPRS but not EDGE.

For short range communication it has Bluetooth, IR and USB connectivity. Other features include 40 MB shared memory, Java 2.0 support, 64 channel polyphonic ring tones and a media player.

MyX-8 retails for around Rs 18,000, but we would advice you to wait till the MyX-9 if it is ever released.

Samsung SGH-D500  

The D500 is the latest head-turner from Samsung. Measuring 93.5 x 45.7 x 23.6 mm and weighing just 99 gm, it is pocketable! Encased in its beautiful piano-black outfit, this phone looks great. Clever user of chrome plays up well with its sublime beauty.        

The brilliant 262K colour display screen is mesmerising and razor sharp. Just below the screen, on a bevelled edge, is the navigational four-way pad, flanked by two soft menu buttons. The call receive and hang-up buttons are below these. 

A simple nudge to the slider opens up the well-lit keypad sporting reasonably sized keys. On the back panel, opening the slider reveals the 1.3 MP camera and flash. The quality of photos taken, though good enough, are not nearly as good as other phones in this article. Video recording is also supported with a 4X zoom feature. The integrated flash, as expected, is only effective at short ranges. 

Samsung has devised an external speaker for this phone. MP3 playback via the inbuilt speaker is decent and adding the external speaker makes it even better. The well-designed conical module plugs into the sides of the phone to provide richer audio.

Connectivity options include Bluetooth, USB and IR. Other features include video and voice recording, 64 polyphonic ringtones, SMS, EMS, MMS, e-mail, and Java 2.0.

Standard applications include World Time, multiple alarms, calculator, converter, timer, stopwatch and organiser. Three Java games-Forgotten Warrior, Freekick and Arch Angel are pre-loaded. Memory capacity of the device is 96 MB, shared dynamically between applications. But, there is no provision for memory expansion.

In terms of usability, the phone provides a standard icon-based menu, accessible using the soft-key and the navigation button-simple to use and a low adaptation curve. The slider can be operated easily, making one-handed operation a breeze. A 'Voice Clarity' feature cancels ambient noise to enhance your conversation. Battery life is average at best, with the battery lasting between two and three days.

Priced at Rs 22,000, the D500 is a great phone for those who want a sleek camera phone with a high flaunt value.

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