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The Smartflip differs from the other i-mate phones in two ways: it's the only clamshell phone that i-mate has in their entire line-up, and it's one of the very few i-mate phones without a combination of 'SP' or 'JAM' or 'JAS' in its name. Sorry, I couldn't resist—these guys have phones named JAM, JAMin, K-JAM, SP JAS and JASJAM!
The Smartflip, originally known as the HTC Star Trek, is a quad-band GSM phone with EDGE support. No 3G/WCDMA/UMTS support in this.
I also couldn't resist to write about the obvious uncanniness the Smartflip shares with the RAZR. Actually, it's not something that needs to be mentioned, because it is—like I said—obvious. The Smartflip is slim, though not as slim as the RAZR, and has the same brushed metal finish on the keypad. But unlike the RAZR keypad, the Smartflip keypad has very faint demarcations, making it very difficult to find keys without looking. The call and end keys are very small and circular, and are the most difficult to touch and find, which is not a good thing because those are the most frequently used keys. The keys have similar tactile feedback, but the software response introduces a little lag. I'm not saying that Windows Mobile 5.0 on the Smartflip is slow—on the contrary its one of the fastest phones I've used since the Sagem myX-8—but it just feels a bit slow to type; something you'll have to try out for yourself.
The Smartflip may be slim enough to be easily carried around in your jeans, but it turns out to be really huge when you open it up. I had a similar problem with the RAZR once upon a time, but this phone is even bigger and wider than that. The only other clamshell that made me feel like a hobbit when talking into it was the N90. The Smartflip isn't as huge as the N90, but it's still big when opened up.
The display on the inside is a 2.2-inch, QVGA 240x320 resolution TFT, but it only does 65k color. There's a slight difference when you see pictures and videos. However, for most application this doesn't pose a problem. The display is somewhat washed out in sunlight, but you can still manage to read it. The external display on the flip is also a 65k color 128x128 display, which is mostly useful as an MP3 player (the phone has play/pause, previous and next keys on the flip as well), but it also shows you the time and the usual notifications.
The MP3 player sound quality is quite crisp, as I've noticed with most Windows Mobile-powered phones. The player handles MP3, WMA, AAC as well as WAV formats. The loud speaker is loud enough to deserve that name. The Smartflip comes with a stereo headset for use with the MP3 player.
The 1.3 megapixel digital camera offers decent quality pictures. There is no flash, though the usual camera settings are available. But still, 1.3 is quite a low megapixel count in this day and in a phone that costs this much, not worth the price.
Storage is handled by 64MB ROM and 64MB of internal (usable) memory, which is fair. Expansion is also available in a microSD/TransFlash card slot. A lot of manufacturers have begun opting for the mSD/TF format for their phones, which is a good thing because all existing users of those cards can upgrade to new phones without having to buy new cards. Unless you go for Sony Ericsson phones, that is.
Connections to the phone are handled by Bluetooth, though there is no stereo headset support. Also there's no WiFi/WLAN, which would have made a nice addition in this business class phone. You can't stick in a WiFi SDIO card either. USB is also available, but at a slow v1.1. The socket on the phone is a proprietory connector, so you can't just stick in any random USB cable lying around.
The phone runs Windows Mobile 5.0 and comes with the standard set of applications such as Internet Explorer Mobile, Windows Media Player 10 Mobile, Pocket MSN, Pocket Outlook, ActiveSync etc. As I mentioned before, the Texas Instruments OMAP850 CPU at 195MHz makes the phone really, really fast and it's a pleasure to work with it. I love the typical Windows Mobile features for enhanced contact search and messaging, however some quirks exist in adding new contacts. A typed number goes into the clipboard and can only be pasted once in the number field, so if you put it in the wrong place and delete it, you can't get it back. The WM concept of all applications staying open even after the Back key is pressed, after which it cycles through all of them, is sort of unintuitive. The final word here is that Windows makes the phone really fast and some tasks are made super easy, but for a new user, Series 60 proves to be a better UI to start a Smartphone with.
The standard 750mAh battery in the Smartflip lasts good upto three and half a day with moderate usage, which is good for a Smartphone and particularly good for a phone this fast. A standard mini-USB socket on the phone would have been a good thing, because then you could just recharge it wherever you go with a standard USB cable. But alas!
The Smartflip costs around Rs. 23,000 which is a considerable premium when kept next to the Nokia N71 clamshell Smartphone. The N71 costs around Rs. 19,000 and offers you dual cameras (2-megapixel and VGA) for 3G/WCDMA video conferencing, a better 256k color display (same resolution, FM radio as well and of course, Nokia's Series 60 UI. Sure, the N71 isn't as thin (2.58cm vs. 1.58cm), is heavier (139gm vs. 99gm) and has only around 10mb internal memory, but if you're getting a 3G phone for Rs. 4,000 less, I would just pick the N71.