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O2 Xda IQ

  • Editors' rating
    7.7 Very good

Pros

  • Windows Mobile 5.0
  • quad-band GSM with GPRS/EDGE support
  • integrated Wi-Fi
  • document viewers for popular formats provided
  • supports Microsoft Direct Push

Cons

  • Few VoIP clients are available for Windows Mobile Smartphone

Microsoft’s Windows Mobile 5.0 Smartphone operating system has lost a little momentum as SIM-equipped devices running Windows Mobile 5.0 Pocket PC become more varied in form factor, and thus suitable for a wider range of markets. Competition from devices such as Orange's recent SPV M600, which feels like a smartphone in the hand but offers Pocket PC functionality, is a case in point. Nonetheless, the smartphone version of Windows Mobile 5.0 remains popular enough for O2 to launch one with integrated Wi-Fi -- the Xda IQ.

Design

O2’s Xda IQ looks every inch a smartphone, its overall dimensions (46.5mm wide by 109mm deep by 18.5mm high) and weight (110g) being entirely average for its class. The silver and black styling is distinctive, but the way the screen and keyboard are bisected by an array of shortcut buttons and a mini joystick is pretty standard.

There are the usual Call and End buttons, plus buttons that activate the contact manager and the email client; above these and directly beneath the screen are four tiny buttons, two of which are mapped to the Windows Mobile Smartphone softkeys; a third takes you to the Today screen, while the fourth acts as a back button.

The 2.2in. screen has a resolution of 240 by 320 pixels and delivers a high-quality image. A light sensor automatically activates the keypad's backlight when you press a key if surrounding conditions are dark enough.

The Xda IQ has a 1.3 megapixel camera, whose lens is on the back of the device; the camera is activated using a button on the upper right edge. There is a self-portrait mirror, but no flash. The top edge houses the infrared port and the on/off switch, while the bottom edge is home to a 2.5mm headset connector and mini USB port for PC connectivity and mains power.

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The left edge carries a volume rocker whose bottom portion, when held down, activates the built-in voice dialling software. You need to set up voice tags to use this.

The most interesting button sits at the very top of the left edge. This is labelled the Connection Manager by O2, and is used to turn on and off the handset's various wireless features. If held for a long press, this button activates Windows Mobile's voice recorder application.

In the box, O2 provides a stereo headset, a belt-clip-style protective case, a USB cable, a mains power adapter, a CD with Microsoft ActiveSync, a second CD containing the ClearVue Document Suite and a USB Modem driver, a printed Getting Started guide and a more detailed printed user manual. The ClearVue Document Suite comprises four applications that can be used for viewing (but not editing) documents in Microsoft Word and RTF, PDF, PowerPoint and Excel formats.

Features

The Xda IQ is a quad-band handset with support for GPRS and EDGE. O2 does not have an EDGE network in the UK, but some of its international roaming partners do.

Windows Mobile 5.0 Smartphone is the core software, and O2 is shipping the Xda IQ with Microsoft's Direct Push services enabled. For companies running the latest version of Microsoft Exchange Server, this means the Xda IQ can deliver email and PIM data (calendar, contacts and tasks) in real time.

The Xda IQ has both Bluetooth and infrared, neither of which are uncommon features. It also has 802.11b Wi-Fi built in, which is a first for a Windows Mobile Smartphone from a UK operator.

However, Wi-Fi's uses in a smartphone are currently limited. ActiveSync does not allow for device synchronisation over Wi-Fi: this was present in the previous version of ActiveSync, but was removed in version 4.0 and upwards -- which is required for Windows Mobile 5.0 devices -- due to Microsoft's concerns about device and data security.

Wi-Fi could potentially be used for making Voice over IP (VoIP) calls. We do not know of any end-user installable VoIP services that are currently compatible with Windows Mobile Smartphone, but commercial services, such as Cicero Networks’ CiceroPhone could be worth considering. As it stands, btehrefore, the most likely use for Wi-Fi is for mobile Web browsing, which we accomplished without any bother.

After a hard reset, the Xda IQ reported 28MB of free program memory and 13MB free for storage. Users can augment the on-board memory with mini-SD cards -- O2 does not provide a card. The card sits in a slot underneath the battery, so you'll have to power down the device to swap cards in and out.

Performance

The Xda IQ is on a par with other Windows Mobile 5.0 smartphones in terms of general handling. The icon-based application launcher shows nine application links at a time, spread across as many screens as are required, and finding your desired application can take a few key presses. The Today screen helps by offering quick access to the five most recently used applications.

The Xda IQ's 195MHz Texas Instruments OMAP 850 processor coped as well as we have seen it do in the past; the occasional wait for applications to launch was irritating, but not unexpected.

As far as battery life is concerned, O2 quotes 4 hours of talktime and 150 hours on standby. Our test involved turning Wi-Fi and Bluetooth off, leaving GSM communications on, forcing the screen to stay on and looping MP3 music playback. Under these conditions, we got 8 hours 20 minutes of battery life.

The Xda IQ is in almost every respect a standard Windows Mobile 5.0 smartphone. Its integrated Wi-Fi may prove useful, as may the built-in support for Microsoft Direct Push. This latter feature is increasingly available as a ROM upgrade for earlier SIM-equipped Windows Mobile 5.0 devices.

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