Orange SPV M700

  • Editors' rating
    8.0 Excellent

Pros

  • 3G and HSDPA support
  • Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and infrared connectivity
  • GPS receiver
  • Compact, lightweight design

Cons

  • Runs on Windows Mobile 5.0 rather than the newer Windows Mobile 6

In January we reviewed the HTC P3600, a strong contender as a Windows Mobile Pocket PC/phone thanks to its good build and wide range of features. As we predicted in that review, this device has been taken up by a network operator: Orange has rebadged it as the SPV M700, and brought it to market at a considerably lower unit price than HTC can manage. Indeed, the M700 is free on some contract options. Orange has also enabled a very useful feature that HTC had inexplicably disabled: the GPS receiver.

Design

For the full detail on the design of this device, see our review of the HTC P3600, as the design features are identical, apart from the Orange branding on the top-right corner that replaces HTC's own logo. In particular, you should check that review for detail on the location of buttons and their functions.

The SPV M700 is available in a white or black livery. In both versions the casing is made primarily of shiny plastic, and is visually rather appealing. Our review sample was black with silver used just for a few highlights such as the Call and End buttons, centre of the navigation button, surround of the 3G video calling camera and activation button for the main camera. The casing does pick up fingermarks easily, but seems reasonably scratch-resistant — we've been using our review sample for a month and can't see a scratch on it.

One aspect of the design is worth mentioning here: the scroll wheel. There was a time when a scroll wheel was found in many Windows Mobile devices, but then it went out of fashion. It's back here, and sits under the left thumb. With its press-to-select feature and button marked 'OK' beneath it, which functions as a back button, there's often little need to withdraw the stylus to tap at the screen, and it's entirely possible to complete many actions one-handed.

The other noteworthy feature is the fact that the SPV M700 is extremely portable. It's not a great deal larger than many candybar-style mobile phones, and at 108mm tall, 58mm wide and 18mm deep it fits neatly into the pocket. The M700's 150g weight is a little heavier than some phones, but not by a huge margin. In return for a little bit of extra bulk and weight, you get a 2.8in. display in 16-bit colour (65,536 colours) with a native resolution of 240 by 320 pixels.

The SPV M700 comes with a belt clip-style carrying case, a spare stylus, a vehicle power charger, an in-ear stereo headset with mini-USB connector, a USB cable for PC connection, a mains power adapter with mini-USB connector, a printed getting-started guide and a printed user manual.

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Features

The SPV M700 runs Windows Mobile 5.0 rather than the newer Windows Mobile 6. Business users will be able to benefit from push email, calendar and contacts on a network running Microsoft Exchange Server 2003 with Service Pack 2, but not from some of the added enterprise-level features that Windows Mobile 6 offers.

The SPV M700 is a quad-band GSM handset with 3G support, and caters for HSDPA. Orange calls its HSDPA service 3G+, and it offers a maximum data download speed of 1.8Mbps. It's currently live in London and is being rolled out across the 'top metropolitan 3G sites' during 2007 and 2008.

The SPV M700 runs on Samsung's 400MHz R2442 processor, and has 64MB of RAM and 128MB of ROM installed. After a hard reset, our review device reported 44MB of free memory for storing applications and data. You can use miniSD cards to expand on this; the slot is on the right outer edge of the casing, protected by a solid plastic cover.

Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and infrared are built in, along with a GPS receiver. The HTC P3600 also has a GPS receiver built into it, although when we reviewed the device this was not activated. You can now get a software upgrade to activate the P3600's GPS unit.

Orange has activated the GPS receiver from the start, although oddly the operator does not shout about this fact on its web site. This is doubly strange since Orange has recently launched its own off-board sat-nav software, which it is quietly pushing. However, the bottom line is that there is a GPS receiver, it is the near-ubiquitous SiRFStar III, and we have been using it successfully with ALK's CoPilot navigation software.

A 2 megapixel camera lens sits on the back of the device. There is no flash and no self-portrait mirror. The camera produces snaps of a reasonable quality but, as is almost always the case with mobile phones, it's no substitute for a dedicated digital camera in terms of image quality. Still, there are some business applications for which super-high image quality is not an issue. The Adobe PDF reader and a Zip file manager augment the standard Windows Mobile 5.0 applications. There's also a voice speed-dial application and a plug-in for the Windows Mobile Today Screen, whose tappable icons give quick access to portrait/landscape screen rotation, battery monitoring and power settings, screen brightness settings and access to the Windows Mobile Comm Manager. These features were all present in HTC's original P3600.

Performance and battery life

Orange quotes battery life at three hours' talk and seven days' standby. Our usual battery-life test involves playing music continuously from a memory card, with the screen forced to stay on. Using this method we achieved 10.5 hours of battery life — rather more than we got from HTC's P3600. During everyday use we had no difficulty surviving for two or three days of average use away from mains power.

Orange has made a smart decision in taking on this connected handheld, and especially in activating the GPS receiver. It remains to be seen whether the imminent arrival of numbers of devices running Windows Mobile 6 will lead to the rapid demise of Windows Mobile 5.0 devices. We'd like to see Orange offer an upgrade early in the lifecycle of this product so that the advantages of Windows Mobile 6 — many of which do not require Microsoft Exchange Server — can be experienced by users of what is a sleek and well-constructed handheld.

 

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