i-mate Ultimate 9502 review

i-mate is a relative unknown but plans to hit the market hard this year with a number of devices. We see if the Ultimate 9502 can actually live up to its name.

Although not a skin, in the same way that Sony Ericsson's Panels interface works, or HTC's TouchFLO interface operates, Winterface is i-mate's alternative menu screen.

Winterface features the most used applications, and is split into pages that you can navigate through simply by swiping the screen. You can edit exactly what is displayed on each screen by pressing and holding each icon and then moving it to a more suitable place. It doesn't sit on top of the Windows interface, but allows you to access more apps in a quicker way. To access Winterface, you simply trace an upside down v' on the screen, whether you're in the menu, and application or standby screen.

The browser operation feels antiquated. There's no Opera preinstalled, so you'll have to make do with Internet Explorer unless you want to download Opera Mobile at cost. There aren't any of the advanced touchscreen pan options as you'd expect on a touchscreen device, and web pages only display in an easy to read format if you slide the screen out and into landscape mode. You have to navigate around pages using either the jog wheel or the four-way navi key below the screen (or to the right if you're in landscape mode).

One big foible with the i-mate Ultimate 9502 is the inability to do anything fast, whether this is screen orientation re-adjustment or opening/closing an application. When you're carrying out any task, be expected to wait at least three seconds before a response. This is a combination of the Windows Mobile phone OS and the fact that there's just 128MB RAM, 256MB ROM and a lot of apps to power. Compare this to the HTC Touch Pro which features 288MB RAM/512MB ROM and you can see why this could be a problem.

The i-mate Ultimate 9502 certainly doesn't scrimp on features though. There's Wi-Fi, GPS/A-GPS, two cameras (a 3-megapixel snapper for taking photos and secondary VGA camera for video calling), HSDPA and HSUPA for browsing, plus direct out socket for hooking the device up to a projector a useful addition for anyone who conducts a lot of presentations and doesn't want to carry a laptop around.

Applications-wise, the i-mate 9502 comes fully loaded for business users. You can synchronise the Ultimate 9502 with an enterprise server using i-mate's Custom i-Q app, plus hook the device up to your computer using the remote desktop tool.

As a Windows Mobile device, there are the usual suspects in the applications folder too. Pocket Word, Excel, Powerpoint and a PDF viewer all make an appearance, with the ability to edit documents thanks to the Professional rather than Standard Edition OS.

The i-mate Ultimate 9502 is a fully-functional business device, but it's a shame the abilities of the device seem hampered by an over-zealous R&D department. The device itself is too chunky and heavy to be a permanent pocket feature although added extras such as the Winterface skin, remote desktop and enterprise connection options make this a more than able smartphone.

Verdict

i-mate may be a relatively unknown smartphone manufacturer, but the Ultimate 9502 has potential, despite its macho size. If this is where the Dubai-based company is headed, we’re excited to see what i-mate will bring in the future.

Connectivity: Bluetooth, USB Display: 2.8in VGA (640 x 480) 65,000 colour touchscreen Storage: 128MB, microSD card slot Camera: 3.0 Megapixel with auto-focus Talk time: 4hrs 20mins Standby: 180 hours Dimensions: (WxDxH): 116mm x 60mm x 17.8mm Weight: 200g

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