i-mate Ultimate 9502

i-mate Ultimate 9502

Summary: The i-mate Ultimate 9502 is the larger sibling of the i-mate 8502, and shares the honour of being Australia's first HSUPA phone. While we believe this phone is in the same league as a BlackBerry or the iPhone, be wary of Telstra's promised internet speeds.

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TOPICS: Telcos, Mobility, Telstra
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The i-mate Ultimate 9502 is the larger sibling of the i-mate Ultimate 8502, and shares the honour of being Australia's first HSUPA phone. While this phone is in the same league as a BlackBerry or the iPhone, be wary of Telstra's promised internet speeds.

Design
What is immediately striking about the i-mate 9502 is the bright 2.8-inch touchscreen that occupies most of the front panel. The generous 640x480 resolution means you can really enjoy multimedia content on this phone.

Unlike its smaller sibling, the i-mate Ultimate 8502, the QWERTY keyboard on the 9502 is hidden underneath a sliding screen. While it's quite small, raised keys means typing is acceptable. In a similar manner to the iPhone, the 9502 automatically detects which way the phone is oriented and tips the screen accordingly.

We had no problem using the small raised QWERTY keys on the 9502, but in truth we liked the touchscreen so much that we tended to use it more often. The inclusion of a stylus stops the screen getting covered in fingerprints, and in case you lose the stylus, the 9502 even comes with a spare. A handy button is placed at the bottom of the screen that provides a shortcut to the "soft" touchscreen keypad.

At 116x60x17.8mm the 9502 is just fractionally larger than its smaller sibling, the 8502. While this isn't a small phone, it's a compact for the range of features it offers — and much smaller than a monster like Nokia's E90 Communicator.

The 9502 offers a range of additional buttons, and we like the scroll wheel placed on the top left-hand corner along with the email and IE key shortcuts. One annoying feature is that the button placed on the left-hand side of the phone sits right next to the sliding screen, which opens in a spring-loaded fashion. This left us occasionally pushing the screen rather than the "OK" or "wireless" shortcut.

Given that we preferred the stylus and touchscreen to the QWERTY keyboard placed underneath the screen, it is our view that the 8502 is the better design of the two i-mate releases. However, bear in mind for an extra AU$100, you get twice the display resolution (640x480 rather than a 320x240), more battery life and a higher resolution camera in the larger 9502. This more than justifies the extra price in our view.

Features
The i-mate 9502 Ultimate packs pretty much every feature we have ever seen in a smartphone — and a whole bunch more — including full HSDPA access. A word of caution here: with full HSDPA, Telstra will advertise this phone's network speed at a maximum of 7.2Mbps download and 1.9Mbps upload, but don't expect to get anywhere near these speeds.

ZDNet.com.au spoke to IDC telecommunications analyst Mark Novosel, who reported a maximum download speed of 2.2Mbps, and 0.35Mbps upload speed using HSDPA in the North Shore and Eastern suburbs of Sydney. He was using an identical i-mate 9502 to that received by ZDNet.com.au for review. In our experience with the phone, the speeds reported by Novosel are realistic or even optimistic.

However, given that the 9502 includes support for 802.11g/b Wi-Fi networks, you may be able to find a hotspot and avoid the whole 3.5G speed issue altogether. No doubt the built in Bluetooth will also come in handy.

Both the i-mates are also exclusive to Telstra, which is a major drawback in our view. We are not suggesting that Telstra is a bad carrier, but a lack of choice for consumers is never a good thing. Furthermore, customers on existing contracts will need to change carriers to get their hands on an i-mate 8502 or 9502.

Battery life on the 9502 is excellent — with moderate use including video calls — the i-mate 9502 battery lasted about three days. The battery life is also aided by the fact that the screen on the i-mate powers down after a short delay if it's not in use.

It's no surprise that the 9502 has excellent battery life, it includes the biggest battery pack we have ever seen — at 1,660mAh. Compare that to a 1,350mAh battery in the HTC Touch Dual, or 900mAh on the BlackBerry Pearl 8120, and you will see why it comes out on top. If you open up the back of the 9502, you will see the battery is huge.

The 9502 also packs a 3-megapixel shooter, which takes nice photos on the big screen. It also comes with a flash, and range of photo editing and camera features which have become a standard on smartphones.

The 9502 also comes with GPS, which is increasingly becoming the norm in smartphones — probably because it's a great feature.

As a phone maker, i-mate is an exclusive supplier of Windows Mobile phones — so if you don't like the OS, don't buy an i-mate. However as Joseph Hanlon from ZDNet.com.au's sister site CNET.com.au notes, you can skin your i-mate with an interface to make it more user friendly using a program like Sbp Mobile Shell 2.0.

We liked Windows Mobile 6 as a mobile OS on the 9502 — but there is no doubting that it's a slow platform. The i-mate 9502 packs a lot of processing power, with a 400MHz Qualcomm processor and 128MB of RAM, it's a lot faster than the desktops we remember using in the early 1990s. But once you start running several programs, the Windows Mobile interface starts chewing through your memory. The 9502 is also slow to boot up.

The i-mate 9502 is the first phone that we have ever seen with an RCA three-pin video output — meaning you use it as an alternative to a laptop when making presentations. While this is an exciting step in smartphones as it gets closer to being true UMPCs, we see this feature as too rudimentary to be useful.

The i-mate's limited processing and storage power could be a problem for presentations that contain large images or complicated features, such as video. Also bear in mind that the features offered on the Windows Mobile 6 addition of PowerPoint are much more limited than the desktop version.

One feature of the 9502 that i-mate spent considerable time promoting is security — the 9502 will ask you for a pin code every time you turn it on — a useful but hardly unique feature.

A unique security feature to the i-mate is the inclusion of "Secure i-Q", which allows users to remotely lock their phones, or even set off an alarm using a Web interface. Phones locked using the secure Web interface have no way to be unlocked via the handset, and you can even remotely wipe all the data on the phone.

We have mixed opinions about Secure i-Q. While it provides a very powerful security feature — the Web interface also adds additional security vulnerabilities — if someone were to break into Sercure i-Q's website, they could remotely wipe every i-mate phone! Not to mention set off loud, permanent alarms. This vulnerability is compounded by the fact that the quick start option for setting up a Secure i-Q account only requires very weak security details. For example it might be possible to access the account of a new user with only their favourite movie and phone number.

i-mate offers the "Secure i-Q" Web interface for additional security. Just make sure you set up a more secure password than offered in the quick start interface.

The alarm, wipe and lock features also work internationally, so we wouldn't be surprised if someone eventually finds out how to hack i-mate's website and cause international i-mate phone chaos. In the meantime, we recommend you set up a strong password if using Secure i-Q.

Verdict
There is no doubt the 9502 is an impressive phone, with a raft of features including full HSDPA, a big high resolution touchscreen, and Windows Mobile 6. This Ultimate 9502 is designed for business users — and we think i-mate has really hit the nail on the head for this target market.

However, be aware that Telstra's advertised data rates can be taken with a grain of salt, and it's important to set up a strong password when using Secure i-Q.

Prices

There are currently no prices available for this product.

Topics: Telcos, Mobility, Telstra

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20 comments
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  • Hey, you need to be a little more realistic - the data speeds are more than enough for the kinds of applications you would use.
    THEY ARE HIGHER THAN ANY WIFI HOTSPOT WHICH YOU SUGGEST AS AN ALTERNATIVE!
    The natural bias against Telstra needs to be kept in check!
    anonymous
  • I have had i-mate Ultimate 9502 smartphone for about three weeks and it is great but getting it to work with Bluetooth has proven impossible.

    I have two computers that are just over a year old (one only two months) and neither can use Windows Mobile Center for syncing even though bluetooth is set up.

    I have an exisiting case with Microsoft who is trying to help and most supportive (calling me back - to see how I am going with the problem) but i-mate support is absolutely appalling even if you can understand their strong Malaysian accents.

    Also i-mate technical support do no follow-up (phone back when they say they are going to) or even create an ongoing case. I even tried the online "live support" and there was either no one available or or the connection would drop out, on the one time I got through.

    Hell, niether Microsoft or i-mate can identify what the problem is and if it is a Windows issue or i-mate.

    Bottome line: when you spend over $1000AU (as much as a laptop!) on a device there should be better help from the manufacturer.

    Advice: if you want to buy one of these i-mate smartphones - make sure you are prepared for bad after sales support!!

    Maybe you should go for the HTC TyTN II. Even though the daily battery life isn't as good. The only problem is that it is not available on a Telstra plan. I am beginning to think I should have waited!
    anonymous
  • I've had the luck to have two in my possession for a week, a 8502 and a 9502.

    So close they are in features. The 9502 has the 3mp camera but snap and shoot Ive had better pics out of the 8502, odd. The screen on the 9502 is BRILLIANT. The 8502 the usual mobile phone washout. The keyboard on the 9502 tacky in feel and could use space between the keys. The raised keys on the 8502 are nicer but the whole keyboard is too small. I'd suggest both could do without them and use the real estate more usefully (bigger screen on 8502 or less weight on 9502).

    One thing that kills me.....they are both SLOW in real world conditions. And battery life is still ordinary in 9502 with wireless on. But the slowness is a killer....with email running i cant stream audio effectively, and thats just the with two things running, nothing else. Just not enough grunt for this O/S platform. Perfect phone? 8502 with 9502 screen, ditch the keypad. Light, 'phone' style and not a brick. Awesome...but it doesnt exist
    anonymous
  • I've had a 9502 for about 4 weeks now. I can honestly say that I love the phone. If they could address the shortcomings it would make a good phone great.

    My main complaint is battery life. My old Treo 500 had a battery life of over a week, the 9502 about 3 days. Of course it could be argued that the Treo doesn't have bluetooth, GPS or WiFi however even with all of that switched off 3 days is all I get out of the battery. Which, I should mention is about the same as my previous 'normal' cell phone which is now 8 years old.
    anonymous
  • Yeh, Thanks for the latest 8/10 "USER COMMENT" Telstra. How about getting some stock into your stores and get your segmented organisations to work together and talk the same language.
    anonymous
  • In reply to anonymous, when dealing or buying product from Telstra, never use their Telstra Shops, they are all franchised and run by kids. I got my new i-mate mailed out in two days by dealing with Telstra on the phone, excellent service.
    anonymous
  • Checked carefully all of the alternative phones(Eten Glofiish,HTC Flame etc etc) with VGA screens,GPS etc and ended up getting the Imate 9502. Not sure what some of you folks are on about with the comments on it being sluggish and slow,I used to own a HP HX4700 PDA with VGA and 624Mhz processor and have not noticed any "sluggishness"in comparison. What are you trying to use it for, for goodness sakes? The 9502 downloads google maps on the fly while driving(free software and map download free apart apart from normal data costs) and GPS running or an mp3 in about 15 seconds. Programs sometimes take a second or two to load , probably more a function of SD card data throughput more than anything . (No high speed microSD cards are available as yet that I have come across.... ie. Ultra III or IV Sandisk? ) As for purchase cost,if you haggle you should be able to drive the price down. Got mine at FoneZone WITH stereo bluetooth headphones thrown in for free as well as an included 2Gb microSD card for total of $1049. As for Telstra plans,speed etc ,the other companies still don't cut it coverage or speed wise as yet so there probably isn't any alternative. Yes,size wise it's a brick,but I happen to like bricks,it's a bloke's phone for sure,but is sturdily built and still fits in a pocket in it's case, so no problems there either. Do wish it would take larger than 2Gb microSD cards but NONE of these phones will have everything you want or be perfect in every respect. The 9502 is as close as I expect I will get in the next couple of years,at least till the Sony Ericsson Experia actually goes on sale...whenever that might be .
    anonymous
  • Great phone. Innovative. Bought one. Someone is listening to what consumers want. However, how do you get the voice recorder thing to work like the old days with just one button? I can get notes to pop up or then some kind of voice control thing.
    anonymous
  • There is a 2 second lag between sound and (followed by) video. I checked in Telstra shops and a range of handsets had ggod synch but not the i-mate. On my own 9502 the Voice dialler starts itself up at any time - extremely annoying - and background noise CAN and does dial numbers.
    anonymous
  • THE WORST TECHNOLOGY I HAVE EVER DEALT WITH

    I have have been inflicted with te 9502 since the day it has been released
    Most of the comment the people had it a couple of days,

    I am talking fromm experiance!!
    anonymous
  • I have this phone last 3 weeks and the major downturn is BATTERY LIFE !!! I`ve got cut off in the middle of Germany ("Main battery low" sign) when I was looking for frineds phone. This was just after a DAY and HALF of being fully charged ?!
    anonymous
  • this is an appalling product. I hate it.
    I note others have said its a man's phone - sure is. Sad 50% of the market are women.
    anonymous
  • Unstable
    Freezes
    Slow
    SLOW
    S L O W
    Badly finshed.. they are all stratched
    anonymous
  • Imate Ultimate 9502 .... One of the best phones I had came across

    I have the Ultimate 9502 from past 5 months & its too cool to use with the SPB MOBILE SHELL which is a good widget very fast and also the traveller and weather data can be downloaded with an ease, its been a wonderful experience with the phone itself just what I wanted. The only thing which is not appreciable is its weight 200 gms which pains my hand while surfing the net for long time and also the slow startup and soft reset sucks lot of time.....battery life is good if U know how to minimize the power off settings..... and the great feature I like is that it can be charged from both the power outlets and PC and can be synchronized with the PC and share the Internet
    anonymous
  • bluetooth help

    hi, do you know how to send a file by blue-tooth? i can only receive a file from others. I'll be grateful for any help.
    anonymous
  • outer metal pannel

    hi someone plz suggest me how can i get mine mobile outer panel of iate 9503... plz help me
    anonymous
  • I like it very much indeed. google
    sustysica
  • this is not bad at all my friend. yahoo
    escannaenvepe
  • today date is 20-03-2012.iam using imate 9502 for for six months. it is a very good mobile but it's size is too big and heavy weight of 200gm.
    atiqullah
  • it is a good mobile. more function are in it. love my imate 9502.
    atiqullah