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:-

Features:

  • 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 imateclub.com 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.

Irritations:
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.

M

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 ( http://channel9.msdn.com/ ) 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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