A first look at the world's thinnest Pocket PC Phone

A first look at the world's thinnest Pocket PC Phone

Summary: Most of the latest and greatest QWERTY devices are non-touch screen Windows Mobile Smartphones. i-mate is starting to roll out their new device that actually uses a touch screen like the Treo 750, but this model has integrated 802.11g WiFi, scroll wheel, higher resolution display and more. The i-mate JAQ3 is the world's thinnest Pocket PC Phone Edition device and after some initial testing it may be a promising device for those looking for a solid, powerful device that is still pocketable.

TOPICS: Mobility

One of the guests we had at Mobius Boston 2006 was Jim Morrison, CEO of i-mate, and he offered to send us an i-mate JAQ3 to test out when they were available. Well after driving in the snow for a bit, I picked up the JAQ3 today and wanted to post some photos and initial thoughts for you to consider as the device starts to become available in the U.S. The JAQ3 is a Pocket PC Phone Edition although as you can see in my image gallery it looks a lot like a Windows Mobile Smartphone. Actually, it is the thinnest Pocket PC in the world!

i-mate JAQ3

UPDATE: A reader pointed out I did not put the size of the device in my first thoughts and since I was focusing on the form factor I made a mistake and should have put some dimensions into my entry. The JAQ3 is 126 x 67.5 x 14.5 mm and 160 grams compared to the T-Mobile Dash at 111.5 x 62.5 x 12.8 mm and 119 grams.

My Mobius buddy Paul put up a review of the UBiQUiO 501 that is a "sister" TechFaithWireless manufactured device like the JAQ3. However, after reading Paul's review again there are some key specs that are much improved on the JAQ3. The following specifications are different:

  • The JAQ3 includes AKU 3.2 which is the latest Windows Mobile 5 operating system update
  • The JAQ3 uses a TI OMAP850 200 MHz processor versus the TI OMAP750 on the UBiQUiO model
  • The JAQ3 is a quad band phone so Cingular customers can use it too
  • The JAQ3 also supports EDGE data connections
  • The JAQ3 has a scroll wheel on the upper left side
  • The JAQ3 number keys are on the right side of the keyboard so you can enter number by pressing them with your right thumb in single handed mode
  • Java client is included on the JAQ3 that runs Google email application well

I have only had a chance to use the JAQ3 for just over 3 hours, but so far I am pretty impressed with the device. My Windows Mobile device of choice right now is the T-Mobile Dash and I posted some comparison photos of it with the JAQ3 in my image gallery. As a power user I generally prefer the Phone Edition variant of Windows Mobile over the Smartphone implementation because it allows me to use all my favorite Pocket PC applications like Office Mobile, Laridian PocketBible, Agenda Fusion, and more. Many people also prefer the touch screen interface on Phone Edition models. Other hot competitors in the Phone Edition market are the Treo 700/750, HTC TyTn, and HTC Wizard models.

i-mate has the same excellent feeling rubberized casing that is on the T-Mobile Dash so it gives you a bit better grip on the device. The JAQ3 is not too much thicker than the Dash, but is longer. It feels quite light and after looking under the back cover it seems like they could have slimmed it down even more. There is a camera button, for the 2 megapixel camera, an OK button, and a 360 degree rotatable scroll wheel on the left hand side. The scroll wheel is used to select items, scroll web pages, and adjust phone call volume. Ebook reading is also made much nicer with the scroll wheel and the 240x320 display has a higher resolution than the Treo 700 and 750 devices. A power button, miniUSB connector, and 2.5mm headset jack are located on the right side. The stylus silo can be found on the bottom and the metal/plastic telescoping stylus is quite securely held in place. The stylus has a decent heft and good length too. The infrared port and miniSD (TransFlash) slot are located on top. The 2 megapixel camera, no flash or mirror, is found on the back just above the speaker that is used for external sound and the speakerphone. Most of the back is taken up with the battery cover that hides the 1250 mAh battery and SIM card slot.

When you look at the front you will see an indicator light up on the upper right that changes colors, depending on the status of the device. The speaker for phone calls is centered above the display. The display is 2.4 inches and has a 240x320 resolution that looks great, especially with ClearType activated. There are 8 hardware buttons around the directional pad with the keyboard located below these. A couple of these can be reassigned to your favorite applications too. The JAQ3 has a well designed QWERTY keyboard with the number keys on the right hand side that have a slightly rougher texture so you can easily recognize them by feel. Directional keys are also found on the lower right of the keyboard. I typed one document and a couple of emails using the keyboard and the keys are easy to press, have good tactile feedback, are well backlit, and well spaced.

The i-mate JAQ3 will soon be available from U.S. importers in the United States for about US$590 as an unlocked device. This is actually a lower price than most Pocket PC Phone Edition unlocked devices that I have purchased in the past from US$700 to US$950. However, this is about US$200 more than locked devices like the Treo 750 and Cingular 8525, but there are no contract obligations with this device.

I plan to do a lot more testing with the i-mate JAQ3, particularly in regards to testing out the 200 MHz processor. I want to see how well video plays, if Skype is usable via WiFi, if I can run lots of applications simultaneously, how well music plays through the A2DP profile, and how stable and reliable the device is during daily use. I did make and take a few calls on it and those sounded loud and clear.

UPDATE 2: Also, the RF reception has been outstanding with 3 and 4, out of 4, bars appearing on the device at my house using T-Mobile. This is just about the best RF reception I have seen on any device. It seems the RF reception I had during my initial testing was a bit of an anomaly as there appears to be a serious issue with the wireless radio easily losing signal, even in areas with full coverage. I have had to actually turn off the phone part of the device and turn it back on in the connection manager to reaquire my signal in areas that I know have excellent coverage. Others I have been talking with have also seen these reception issues and at this time I would recommend you save your money until an update is issued by i-mate to fix this problem. A phone, even if it is a high powered smartphone, is worthless without solid phone performance. I will be testing the JAQ3 more, but for my own use I have gone back to the T-Mobile Dash and Nokia N93 for daily usage.

Topic: Mobility

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  • Windows Mobile Smartphone, not Pocket PC Phone!

    I know it might seem like a matter of semantics, but it's misleading to have a headline that states "thinnest Pocket PC Phone" when the i-mate JAQ3 is literally a Windows Mobile Smartphone! I guarantee you will have visitors to your article who think they are about to see a Pocket PC Phone Edition device which is really small, and they will be disappointed to discover that it's only the JAQ3...!
    I don't mean to belittle the JAQ3, it's just a different animal than a Pocket PC Phone, just like the Motorola Q and the Samsung Blackjack. They are killer devices, but they don't have a touchscreen, which is a significant difference for a PDA-first user!

    Just my two cents! Headlines should be accurate! :)

    Matt Coddington
    Pocket PC Louisville
    • It IS a Pocket PC Phone Edition

      I do not write misleading titles abd have been writing about mobile tech for over 5 years. The whole point of my article is to point out that the JAQ3 IS a touch screen Pocket PC. Check out my image gallery to see the stylus and screenshots showing the software. Cool device, huh?
      palmsolo (aka Matthew Miller)
      • But how long do you think it will take

        Apple to try to sue them for calling it the "i-mate"?

        Seriously, it looks nice, and the ability to continue using the unit with the keyboard if the screen goes out is a good idea. I feel that may be a problem with the iphone, giving up the security of the tried and tested "button" over "this screen does it all"

        I look forward to reading your reviews on it later as you test it some more
        John Zern
      • Apologies!

        My apologies, Matt! That's what I get for reading the article so early in the morning!
        I'll go get a fork so I can eat my words... <blush>

      • A little bit bulky

        Looks nice but a little bit bulky...
        Solid Water
  • Must be nice....

    To have that type of money to spend on a device like that. I'll wait until they drop down to >100 range before I will even bother to think about purchasing anything like it. Right now they all strike me as a social experiment more than an actual device worth having. I want it waterproof as well.

    Yeah, I know, some people have the money or need to have such a device. Myself, not at all. I still prefer having only a land line. The only cell phone I have is the on-call phone when it is my turn. Otherwise don't bother me.
    • So who's computer...

      ...did you borrow to write that post (reminiscent of the grumbles of a curmudgeon, whose worst day started with a technological advancement beyond the horse and buggy)?!?

      The very point of the article was that the device allows the reporter to run his preferred Pocket-PC applications, such as Laridian's PocketBible (version 3 of which outstrips the capabilities of my faithful and flawless Toshiba e-330, so I'm presently looking to consolidate what I carry...and this device may be it). Perhaps you don't need that. If not, go back to your pencil and paper, and the rest of us will move on to perfection.

      I can't help but wonder if I've not become the curmudgeon, even as I write.

      Not entirely tongue-in-cheek...
  • But I think this is sexier...


    Especially what you get in the device for the small size increase (and a lower weight than the JAQ3).
    John Freemont
  • i-Mate? Will Apple sue?

    And will Apple be told in turn to JAQ-off?

  • Airplane Use

    One question I have about these "pocket pc" phones is what the regulations are aboard airplanes. Can the cell tranceiver be disabled while leaving the pc applications intact? Or will the airline attendant (didn't they used to be called stewardesses? ;) insist that it be turned off completely.
    • I use my devices on flights...

      and sometimes I have had to show the flight attendant that the phone part is turned off. This is easy to do on these latest Windows Mobile devices that have connection manager that show the status of all your wireless radios on a single display.
      palmsolo (aka Matthew Miller)
    • In Plane Use

      Just turn off ALL the wireless modules [Bluetooth and WiFi included] then you're in 'Flight mode' you can still use your PDA [usually you can turn on the PDA when you are at cruising altitude] but you have to turn it off during take off and landing.
  • They need to get a better designer

    That phone lookgs boring. They should hire the IPhone design team. It didn't make jump or go WOW! I gave it an eh?
  • PPC Man went to Dash For Size

    I actually gave up PocketPCs so that I could get a smaller form factor from the "Dash". Lo... these long months with no touch screen for comfort. This new PPC, I would like. The smaller, thinner form factor and the touch sceen with Full-Mobile OS will help me get back what I gave up. The downside with the Smartphone is that it reads files, but can't write them.
    • Dash

      I went to the Dash for the same reason. Gave up the touch screen, which has not
      been easy.
      Datavitz has an office beta out, and I'll buy it as soon as it's ready. Have been using
      HanDbase, which works very well.
      Think the i-mate PPC would be better out of the box, but I don't have $600 to blow
      on a phone.
      Still, I'd really like to give up the laptop.
      • I may be sticking with my Dash too

        I LOVE my Dash and just installed the beta of DataViz's product. It works very well and is exactly what I needed to make the Dash even more useful.

        I have had a chance to play with the JAQ3 more and will be posting an update next week, but I find the JAQ3 to be a bit slower than the Dash and I am so used to the non-touch screen that I am rarely tapping on the JAQ3 display. The Dash form factor is also very tough to beat and I may be giving my JAQ3 away here on my ZDNet blog.
        palmsolo (aka Matthew Miller)
  • Thinnest in the world?

    Not to be picky, but I love an article devoted to the size of the phone, yet does not even mention the dimensions of the device...lol

    Now that's good writing.

    Thats like writing an article on the most unsafe car in the world, but never mention what car it is!
    • Oops, I updated my post

      Sorry about that:) I added some dimensions for you to compare with the T-Mobile Dash that is pictured in my image gallery.
      palmsolo (aka Matthew Miller)
  • Nice, but LOVE my Verizon Pocket PC

    Thin is nice, but I noticed it only runs at 200mhz. The Verizon runs at a decent 416mhz. I researched what "pocket pc" would suite me best, and I use my "phone" for everything; Pics,videos,music,small documents (word&excel),wi-fi(with pocket skype),and bluetooth aps. My newest purchase was the delorme Earthmate Bluelogger GPS ($149) and it works flawlessly with my laptop and the mobile Street Atlas 2007 for my Pocket PC. Friends I show what my "phone" can do, are utterly amazed. And now I stuck in a 2GIG mini-SD card ($30) at Fry's Electronics, I have ALL my videos (over 100) and 5+ full albums of my favorite music, with space to spare. (GREAT sound with the stereo earbuds). Well, that was a plug, hope it helped someone decide.

    When you factory test these devices start in the trillions of cycles per second range.Digital doesn't start to shine until then!