I-mate SP3i review:

I-mate SP3i

For a full-featured smart phone, the I-mate SP3i is sleek and small.

As for the other controls, on top of the device is the power button as well as the IR port. On the right side is the dedicated camera button; it launches the VGA-quality camera, which is located on the back and includes a tiny mirror for self-portraits. On the left side of the device is the volume rocker. Unlike on other devices, the rocker doesn't pull double duty scrolling through menus. On the bottom is the USB port and the minijack for the included stereo headphones. Unfortunately, the headphone jack doesn't accept standard headphones. A major gripe that we have with the design of this device is that the Mini SD memory card slot is located beneath the user-removable battery, preventing hot-swapping.

The I-mate SP3i boasts a VGA-quality camera as well as a mirror for taking self-portraits.

We like that the I-mate SP3i's battery can be charged through your computer's USB port or with the included power adapter. The device also comes with a belt holster and stereo earbuds that let you listen to music, watch videos, or talk hands-free.

Running Windows Mobile 2003 Second Edition, the I-mate SP3i offers all the PIM applications you'd expect from a full-fledged PDA (address book, calendar, in-box) and Pocket versions of Word, Excel, and Internet Explorer. A major plus is Windows Media Player 10.0 Mobile, which provides for seamless integration with the desktop version of Media Player 10.0. Additionally, Media Player 10.0 Mobile is capable of playing WMV and WMA files (video and audio, respectively), as well as MP3s. Hard-core music fans will also appreciate the application's support of album art.

The I-mate SP3i has 32MB of RAM (64MB of ROM), which is more than enough for your contacts, calendar, and any other information. Our test unit shipped with a 256MB Mini SD card, which we used to store photos, music, and videos. We consider this smart phone a high-end device, so we were disappointed that it isn't equipped with integrated Wi-Fi. However, you get an infrared port and Bluetooth. And since we didn't get the device from a wireless provider, the Bluetooth functionality wasn't hobbled. This means that you can use Bluetooth for wireless headsets, wireless data transfer, as well as a modem to connect your Bluetooth-enabled laptop to the Internet. The I-mate SP3i also ships with a speakerphone, but using it wasn't as simple as we would have liked. You have to activate the feature prior to making calls, so switching between the speakerphone and the handset in the middle of a conversation isn't possible.

We tested the triband (GSM 900/1800/1900) I-mate SP3i in the San Francisco Bay Area using Cingular Wireless service, and call quality was good on both ends. Additionally, the included stereo headset was great for phone calls but really shined with digital audio files. We also appreciated being able to use a wireless Bluetooth headset. We paired the I-mate SP3i with the Logitech Mobile Freedom Bluetooth headset with no problems. While the I-mate ships with a speakerphone, it's neither the best-sounding implementation, nor is it necessarily simple to use. The I-mate SP3i has a rated talk time of 3.5 hours and a rated standby time of approximately six days.

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