In the features department, the Velocity 103 is well poised to compete with other smartphones. To start, the 103 is a quad-band world phone and comes with a speakerphone, speed dial, conference calling, and text and multimedia messaging. The address book is only limited by the available memory (the SIM card holds an additional 250 contacts); each entry can hold multiple numbers, work and home addresses, e-mail, birthday, and more. For caller ID purposes, you can pair a contact with a photo, a caller group, or one of four polyphonic ringtones. Bluetooth 2.1 is onboard with support for mono and stereo headsets, hands-free kits, dial-up networking, and more. No need for a Bluetooth GPS receiver, either, since the 103 has assisted GPS.
The Velocity 103 is also a 3G-capable handset. More specifically, it supports the 850/1900 HSDPA bands, which means you'll be able to get 3.5G speeds, provided that you are using an AT&T SIM. T-Mobile's 3G network operates on the 1700/2100 bands so you won't be able to enjoy the same advantages. Fortunately, the smartphone also has integrated Wi-Fi (802.11b/g), providing an alternative method for surfing the Web.
The smartphone runs Windows Mobile 6.1 Professional Edition and comes with the full Microsoft Office Mobile Suite and support for Microsoft's Direct Push Technology for real-time message delivery and automatic synchronization with your Outlook calendar, tasks, and contacts via Exchange Server. The 103 can also be configured to access your POP3 and IMAP e-mail accounts.
The one advantage the Velocity 103 offers over other Windows Mobile devices is over-the-air software updates. You can configure your device to automatically download the updates (whenever available) every time you fire it up, or you can set it so you receive a notification before you download. Either way, there's no need to connect the Velocity 103 to your PC to get updates, which is a nice convenience.
Other PIM tools include a PDF reader, a remote desktop client, a task list, a unit converter, a notepad, and a calculator. There's a Task Manager to help optimize CPU and memory usage. The Velocity 103 comes with 128MB DDR SDRAM and 256MB NAND Flash storage.
Multimedia features on the Velocity 103 includes Windows Media Player 10 Mobile, which supports a number of music and video formats, such as AAC, MP3, WAV, WMA, MPEG-4, and WMV files, to name a few. Plus, if you have TV shows recorded on your Windows Media Center PC, you can transfer them to your device for on-the-go viewing or stream your home's TV programming right to your device with a Slingbox and SlingPlayer Mobile.
The Velocity 103 features a 2-megapixel camera with video recording capabilities. Options are a bit more limited than other camera phones we've tested, but you do get a self timer and flicker adjustment. Still images can be shot in one of three resolutions and one of three quality settings. Unfortunately, there's no flash and also no way to adjust the white balance. You can, however, add various effects. In video mode, you have the option of two video formats and two resolutions.
Picture quality was quite decent. Objects were clearly defined and sharp. Some colors looked slightly flat, but overall, we were pleased with the results. Video quality was also impressive with minimal pixelation.
We tested the quad-band (GSM 850/900/1800/1900; HSDPA 850/1900) Velocity 103 in San Francisco using AT&T service and call quality was decent. We heard a slight background hiss during calls, but overall, we enjoyed loud and clear audio quality. We had no problems using an airline's automated voice response system. Our friends reported similar results, but there were a couple of mentions of voice distortion. Unfortunately, the speakerphone was pretty abysmal. We could barely hear our callers, even with the volume at its highest level. It was so bad that we didn't even realize the speakerphone was on when we first activated it. This was in a quiet room, too, so we imagine you wouldn't be able to hear anything in a louder environment. We were able to pair the Velocity 103 with the Logitech Mobile Traveller Bluetooth headset and the Motorola S9 Bluetooth Active Headphones.
The Velocity 103 is powered by a 400MHz Qualcomm MSM7201 processor, and general performance was OK. The smartphone didn't feel quite as snappy as the Touch Diamond, as there was some lag when using the touch screen and various applications. Multimedia performance was also affected by the weak speaker. Song playback was very soft and sounded tinny. We watched a couple of short WMV clips, and video and audio were always synchronized and looked better than on other devices, thanks to the smartphone's VGA display.
The Velocity 103 comes with a 1,410mAh lithium ion battery with a rated talk time of 4 hours and up to 8 days of standby time. In our battery drain tests, the Velocity 103 was only able to squeeze out 3 hours of talk time, but this was using 3G. According to FCC radiation tests, the 103 has a digital SAR rating of 0.98 watt per kilogram.