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i-mate JAMA 201 review: i-mate JAMA 201

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The Good Looks like a smartphone.

The Bad It's anything but smart, though. Slow performance. Cheap feeling buttons. Horrible USB cover. No Wi-Fi. No 3G. Tiny space bar. USB 1.1 only.

The Bottom Line The JAMA 201 smartphone looks the part of a smartphone, but it's not good enough to be the real deal.

4.7 Overall

Review Sections

Every once in a while, you may find yourself in a $2 shop, looking at plastic junk. Somewhere in amongst the endless little green army men, glittery ponies with toxic paint and velvet Elvis mirrors, you'll probably find a fake mobile phone or two. Toys, after all, have to move with the times, and the current new generation of kiddies can't be expected to get by with twine and baked bean cans forever.

Why are we bringing up fake mobile phones in a review of a phone that costs quite a bit more? Well, just as those fake mobile phones look somewhat like real mobiles but lack the critical components to make them actually functional, the i-mate JAMA 201 looks all the world like a proper Blackberry-style smartphone — except that it's lacking just about everything that you'd want in a real smartphone. Sure, it's cheap — but it's just not good enough for a real purpose.

Design
So having established what the JAMA 201's trying to do, it is worth pointing out that it certainly looks the part of a Blackberry-style smartphone, right down to the full QWERTY keyboard. Like most Blackberry clones, the keyboard is on the very small side, but then there's only so much key space you can dedicate to 113x63x14mm worth of design space. Sadly, there's still a few flaws here as well. The space bar is, even for a smartphone, pretty small whichisaproblemifyouwantoseparateoutyourwords. The keys also have a distinctly slick feel to them, which makes it all too easy to slide over the key you intended to press and mis-type.

The five-way directional pad and selection keys above the keyboard have the same slick feel problem, and it took us a lot of patient repetition to get used to the fact that only the bottom half of the selection keys work with any kind of reliability when selecting things. The USB connector — for both charging and data transfer — hides behind a very solid rubber cap that is hard to remove. It was exasperating to open when we needed to, and we have this feeling it'll probably tear off most JAMA 201s rather quickly, even if only accidentally.

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