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i-Mate's smartphone @ Rs 24,000
Priyanka Joshi in New Delhi | September 27, 2006
In a market that is loaded with bulky-looking, wide keypad-based phones, Smartflip is compact and a rather lightweight clamshell (weighs 99 grams).
It sets a new paradigm in smartphone designs (measures 98.5 x 51.4 x 15.8mm) and looks similar to the Motorola RAZOR - complete with thin lines and sleek curves. The keypad too is similar to a RAZOR - right down to the etched spun finish and the front panel.
With an operating system like Windows Mobile 5.0 that requires no stylus, one can breeze through applications rather smoothly.
Very basic things like a full screen mode for Internet Explorer (the smartphone's browser), zoom function for font-size adjustment, progress bar, integrated picture and video programme for viewing photos and video and integrated photo-contacts with MS Outlook 2003 make Smartflip's OS a delight to use.
Menus were concise and simple, with the two selection buttons and navigational pad making life extremely simple and easy.
Push e-mail too, Smartflip comes with Microsoft Direct Push Email (aka Blackberry). Inclusion of a range of ClearVue document viewers including Word, Excel, PDF and Powerpoint is an added benefit for the business users.
Another area where the Smartflip excels is speed. Its OMAP 850 195MHz processor works well and applications load very fast. Switching between programmes is something that i-Mate's Smartflip can afford boast about.
Despite being so thin, i-Mate has squeezed a number of buttons onto the Smartflips exterior including dedicated MP3 player controls on the front panel, a camera button on the right and voice tags and volume control keys on the left.
An extremely cool function of the external screen is its integration with Windows Media Player. While the media player is active the external screen shows track information and the hardware buttons on the cover control the music.
Could be better
There's also a single USB and charging connector on the right hand side, but this is not a standard mini-USB port. In other words, you will have to use the included proprietary cables.
The Smartflip comes with a 1.3 megapixel camera (even though most smart phones are currently shipping with 2.0 megapixel), Bluetooth connectivity and impressive external and internal displays (64K colour transflective LCD panel). Videos and images would have looked better if i-Mate had bundled a flash with the camera.
The Smartflip is fitted with 64MB RAM and 64MB ROM, of which 44MB is available for storing your data (approximately 1,000 phonebook contacts). Perhaps 128MB of RAM would have been a better option for the likes of a smartphone.
Thankfully, the Smartflip's memory can be expanded with a microSD slot (you buy your own memory). Don't be surprised if you are not able to locate the microSD memory card slot as it is hidden under the SIM card slot! It means, you have to turn off the phone everytime you consider changing the memory card.
There is no Wi-Fi too. Disappointing news for some, this is not a 3G phone, supports the 2.5G network. The Smartflip's battery lasts up to 4.5 hours of talk time (150 hours of stand-by time according to i-Mate figures) and this is a little disappointing considering the phone isn't even 3G.
So, why would you pay Rs 24,000 for it? Couple of reasons. Putting it all together in this form factor, i-Mate makes a "total package" for those who do not want to lug around the bulk of a full-size keyboard.
And second, the smartphone's OS has great one-handed hardware button usability for all of its applications. So, if you are jealous of all those superficial people out there with shiny, thin and good looking phones, and wishing you had something with more personality, then i-Mate's Smartflip is for you.