MWg Zinc II review:

MWg Zinc II

Typical Price: £450.00
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3 stars

CNET Editors' Rating

The Good GPS; Wi-Fi; HSDPA.

The Bad Keypad is too flat; camera lacks flash.

The Bottom Line A flat keypad that's fiddly to use takes away from what is otherwise a good phone. Considering MWg is still testing the smart phone waters, it has to be congratulated for getting this far with the Zinc II, but we hope more attention is paid to usability in the future

6.5 Overall

The smaller a company is, the harder it can be for it to make attractive, high-end products. Shrugging off its growing pains, MWg has pulled off a good-looking smart phone with the Zinc II. Similar in size and weight to the HTC TyTN II, the Zinc II is a touchscreen phone with a slide-out keypad, available for around £450 SIM-free.

From the moment you take it out of the box, it feels like you're holding a quality product. There's a rubbery finish to the casing and a glossy front section with a flat slide-out keypad underneath that looks very cool.

The MWg Zinc II's keypad looks cool but isn't very easy to use

The keypad isn't the easiest we've ever used, unfortunately. Each key makes an attempt at uniqueness with a very subtly raised edge, but the overall flatness of the keypad makes it tough to easily distinguish between each one. We got used to it after a while but we prefer the TyTN II's keypad.

Whenever we got too frustrated with the keypad, we fell back on using the Zinc II's touchscreen. MWg has implemented an HTC TouchFLO-style menu for fast finger-friendly access to certain apps but you will need to use the stylus to type comfortably. Also, because the Zinc II runs on Windows Mobile 6.1, don't expect to use your fingers when it comes to texting.

If you're a seasoned Windows Mobile user, you might not find the Zinc II that big, but it's not exactly a small device compared to something like the Sony Ericsson W890i. Steer clear if you're looking for something to slip into a tight pair of jeans.

It may be big but it comes packed with features. The Zinc II boasts HSDPA and Wi-Fi, so you can stay connected almost everywhere. We downloaded Opera Mini on to it and surfed the Web in the park and office with ease.

The lack of a flash on the camera means shots in low light don't come out very well

Built-in GPS means that you can also use the Zinc II as a sat-nav system, but we did find it took some time before picking up the satellites. Signal strength will depend on where you are, of course, so don't expect an instant sat-nav.

The Zinc II's star feature should be the ability to write long emails and create and edit Microsoft documents using its full Qwerty keypad, but the pad lets it down. We'd like to say that writing long emails was great, but because of the pad's design, we actually found it fiddly.

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