- Supports quad-band GSM, EDGE, 3G and HSDPA
- Integrated Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and infrared
- Attractive design
- Battery life could be better
- Expensive without a network operator subsidy
HTC’s last batch of products includes two Windows Mobile smartphones, the S620 and S310, and two Windows Mobile Pocket PCs, the P3300 and the P3600. The P3600, reviewed here, has a SIM slot and — unusually for a Pocket PC — it supports HSDPA. In due course we may see network operators offer it as a subsidised handset on their 3G networks, but at present it's only available SIM-free from vendors such as Expansys.
The HTC P3600 is a small-format Pocket PC measuring 108mm tall by 58.2mm wide by 18.4mm deep, making it reasonably pocket-friendly. The screen is a 2.8in. colour TFT with the standard resolution of 240 by 320 pixels and 16-bit colour depth.
Our review sample of the HTC P3600 was mostly creamy white in colour, although it's also available in a rather more sedate black. The majority of its casing is made of plastic of this colour: small areas of a pale silver plastic carry buttons on the front and three edges, and the surround for the camera on the back. There's very little metal to be seen — just the Call and End buttons and the centre of the navigation button, all of which sit at the front beneath the screen.
The Call and End buttons are surrounded by two softmenu buttons, a Windows Mobile Start button and an OK button. On the right side there are three buttons: on/off, camera control and a button that on a short press starts the voice speed dial software and on a longer press allows you to make a voice recording. Also on this edge is a covered slot for the MiniSD cards that you can use to expand the built-in memory.
The bottom edge houses the infrared port and mini-USB connector, which has three functions: charging the battery, making a wired connection to a PC, and attaching the provided headphones.
The left-hand side houses a scroll wheel that lodges tidily under the thumb when you hold the HTC P3600 in your left hand; beneath this is an OK button. To make selections from the device screen, you use the scroll wheel and then depress it. The OK button actually performs a ‘back’ function, minimising applications if they are opened or closing menus if they are visible, for example. It also activates the Windows Mobile Start menu if you are on the Today Screen. Between them, the scroll wheel and this button cater well for one-handed use.
The HTC P3600 comes with a protective case plus belt clip, a PC connection cable, a stereo headset and a printed manual.
The headline feature of the HTC P3600 is its HSDPA support, which currently offers data transfer rates up to a theoretical maximum of 1.8Mbps. You will only be able to take advantage of this if your network operator offers HSDPA, though, which currently limits your choices in the UK to T-Mobile and Vodafone. If you're with a different operator, you'll have to be content with 3G data speeds, which top out at 384Kbps. As far as GSM is concerned, the HTC P3600 is quad-band 'world' phone.
There is a small front-facing camera sitting above the screen that's designed for video calling. The main camera, whose lens is at the back, shoots at resolutions up to 2 megapixels. There's no flash and no self-portrait mirror, and while the hardware design suggests the potential for a slide-operated macro lens of the type we've seen on HTC’s handhelds before, that feature is not present here.
Wi-Fi and Bluetooth are both built in, the former supporting both 802.11b and g standards, the latter Bluetooth 2.0. Add to this the infrared noted earlier (its port is on the bottom edge of the device), and you have a comprehensive range of local wireless connectivity options to complement the wide-area functionality described above.
The processor powering the P3600 is Samsung’s R2442 running at 400MHz. There is 64MB of RAM memory and 128MB of ROM installed, and after a hard reset our review device reported 55MB of free memory for storage of applications and data. This can be expanded using MiniSD cards if necessary.
Software to augment the standard Windows Mobile 5.0 bundle includes the Adobe PDF reader, a Zip file manager, voice speed dial software and a plug-in for the Windows Mobile Today Screen that provides one-tap access to four device features: screen rotation from portrait to landscape (with landscape in both ‘left’ and ‘right’ orientations for left- and right-handed use), battery monitoring and power settings, screen brightness settings and access to the Comm Manager program for controlling wireless communications. It would be handy to be able to configure this to add links to frequently used applications or other system settings, but it's still a fairly useful feature.
Performance & battery life
Battery life was slightly disappointing. With the screen forced to stay on we played MP3 music continuously and got 8 hours and 15 minutes of music from a fully charged battery. We’d have liked more: if you're a serious user of 3G (or HSDPA), Bluetooth or Wi-Fi, you may find yourself needing to recharge the battery fairly regularly.
Overall, this is an impressive Pocket PC with an excellent set of features — although the lily would be truly gilded if it boasted a GPS receiver and a slide-out keyboard as well. Even so, with its accessible memory expansion slot and an attractive design, the HTC P3600 is an attractive — if expensive — proposition.