iMate SP3i : Review

Earlier this month I purchased an i-mate SP3i Mobile phone from Telstra. I have been meaning to do a review, but did not get round to it – so here it is:-


  • Windows CE for Smartphones 2003 – Second Edition
  • 32MB RAM
  • 32 MB ROM
  • TI OMAP (Arm) Processor
  • miniSD slot (soon to be filled with a 1GB card)

The phone itself is actually quite good, excellent reception and clarity even in “dodgy” areas where signal strength is a bit lacking.

The Tesltra branding of the firmware is ghastly – there is no other word for it and I highly recommend that you upgrade/reinstall the firmware from the site (homepage for imate) if you have one – it fixed an issue I had with optus SIM cards where they would fall off the network after 12-24 hours (actually I only flashed it about 14 hours ago, so more testing is required to see if this is actually fixed).

iMate support is umm, i cant think of a word that describes how bad it is – its beyond horrific, and for this reason I recommend that if you are looking at the i-mate SP3i that you go for the O2 SmartphoneII instead I hear better things about their support.

Why a Smartphone? – To be explained in a little bit. ; It runs windows have I gone insane? Probably.

Why a Smartphone – I wanted a phone that could support PDA functionality, talk to my PC nicely and have a nice accessible format for development. I looked at several PDA/Phone crosses (O2 XDAmini, Palm Treo650) but they all were bigger than I wanted. I looked at Nokia’s but I am not a fan of Symbian for some reason that I cannot define and the developer community does not appear to be as large as for Palm and PocketPC.

I had been doing some development work for PocketPC at work, and Smartphone is just a subset of that, which should place me in good stead for writing/developing my own apps when I get off my backside.

There is an application which allows it to be used with the Macintosh platform (which I hope to migrate my home desktop too shortly) and there is active development working on getting PocketPC syncing with Linux systems.

I decided to risk it on this phone and after some initial dissapointment am fairly happy with it thus far.

Missed calls do not show the date nor time of the call – I definatly need to find a replacement for this app.
Photo’s of people are NOT sync’ed into the outlook feature that supports this – I hear that Windows Mobile 2005 (aka Windows CE for Smartphone 2005) will support this feature (fat lot of good it does me, grrr).

Honest advice: Wait for 2nd Gen Windows Mobile 2005 based devices to hit the street, probably around March 2006 or even a bit later WM2005 has some nice features and will soon be getting lots of developers but 1st gen Microsoft stuff has a habit of sucking badly.


2 Responses to “iMate SP3i : Review”

  1. jim Says:

    Have you tried syncing this with your mac? Now that I’m off my phone contract I’m shopping for a new phone and looking for a smartphone of some description.

    I liked your phone, good size, seemed fairly well thought out, and the MS platform is something I can code on pretty easily if I wanted to. Cons: Linux and Mac compatibility potentially an issue.

    Also thinking about the Palm based phones. Pros: Better Linux and Mac compatibility. Cons: Seen some pretty bad reports about their usability and reliability. Also not as easy to develop for should I want to. Never seen or used a palm device.

  2. malliemcg Says:

    To be honest the phone has been getting on my nerves recently.

    I believe part of the issue is related to the manufacturer (iMate) does not have the same build quailty as O2 (even though the core/base design is pretty much the same).

    Other issues: Memory – the phone will actually slow down over a period of time and a reboot is the better way to resolve that issue.

    As far as mac compatibility goes, on one of the channel9 ( ) videos the MBU (mac business unit) people speak of an iSync plugin or similar to enable people to use smutphones with OS X. I think I’d be happier if it played nicely with OS X, but there are other issues that even a decent mac sync client just wont help.

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