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i-mate Jaq3 review: i-mate Jaq3

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The Good The I-mate Jaq3 sports a sleeker design and adds a 2-megapixel camera and integrated Wi-Fi. The Windows Mobile 5 smart phone also has integrated Bluetooth, push e-mail capabilities, and the I-mate Suite, which provides extra productivity and security utilities to the business user.

The Bad The Jaq3's performance is sluggish and call quality was poor. Video playback was choppy, and there's no 3G support.

The Bottom Line While the I-mate Jaq3 offers a number of improvements over its predecessor, this Windows Mobile smart phone falls way short of the competition with poor performance.

5.7 Overall
  • Design 6
  • Features 7
  • Performance 4

I-mate's last smart phone, the I-mate Jaq, was...well, let's just say we'd put it in the "What were they thinking?" category. It was bulky, slow--pretty much everything you wouldn't want in your smart phone. Fortunately, it looks like the company may have learned a lesson or two as the I-mate Jaq3 is quite an improvement over the Jaq, but it's still no standout. The Jaq3 answers some of the problems we had with the Jaq; it's sleeker and adds a 2-megapixel camera and Wi-Fi. I-mate also includes its own suite of productivity and security apps to help the mobile professional. However, all this wasn't enough to win us over. The device still has poor call quality, and performance is extremely sluggish. Also, it's a little late to get to the market, as Windows Mobile 6 was just announced and I-mate even introduced the Jaq4. We can't really find any reason to justify shelling out $599 for an unlocked version of the I-mate Jaq3 when you can get a better performing smart phone, such as the Cingular 8525 or the T-Mobile Dash for less.

Much to our relief, the I-mate Jaq3 looks nothing like its bulky, plasticky predecessor, but that doesn't mean we're in love with the design either. At 4.9x2.6x0.5 inches and 5.6 ounces, the Jaq3 is definitely sleeker and sexier with its black casing. In fact, it pretty much looks like all the other slim, black QWERTY smart phones in the market today--the Samsung BlackJack, the Motorola Q, or the RIM BlackBerry 8800, take your pick. Like the rest of these devices, the Jaq3 is on the wider side, so holding it up to your ear as a phone will take some getting used to if you're new to this type of handset. To make things a bit easier, the Jaq3 features a soft-touch finish to give the exterior a rubber-like texture and make it easier to grip.

There is a 2.4-inch diagonal, 65,000-color display on front that's just a shy smaller than the BlackBerry 8800's and the Moto Q's. We're a bit disappointed that Invertec (the device's manufacturer) didn't make the screen larger, given that it looks like there was room to do so with the extra space below the display and QWERTY keyboard. That said, the I-mate Jaq3 certainly trumps the aforementioned smart phones since it is a touch screen. It's quite responsive, and text and images looked sharp thanks to 320x240 pixel resolution.

We found the I-mate Jaq3's navigation controls and QWERTY keyboard roomy and easy to use.

Aside from the touch screen, you also can operate the Jaq3 with the controls beneath the display. The navigation array consists of a start button, two soft keys, talk and end buttons, an OK key, shortcuts to your messages and Internet Explorer Mobile, and a four-way toggle with a center select button. The controls are large and easy to press, and they made it possible to navigate most of the device without having to use the touch screen. The full QWERTY keyboard is excellent; fair warning to e-mail and text-messaging fanatics, you could easily get carried away with this thing. The keyboard features bubbly, tactile buttons with adequate spacing between them so mistakes should be kept to a minimum. The backlighting also is bright enough for typing in darker environments.

On the left spine, there is a scroll wheel (which you can depress to select an item), a Today screen key, and a camera activation button, while a 2.5mm headset jack, a mini USB port, and the power button are on the right side. We found the last one to be set a bit too far beneath the phone's surface, so you have to have some nails to access it. We experienced a similar problem with the microSD slot on top of the Jaq3, as inserting and ejecting the card needs some nimble handiwork. Finally, you will find the camera lens on back of the unit as well as the stylus holder on the bottom left.

There's a microSD slot on top of the device, but good luck trying to get the memory card in or out of the phone.

I-mate packages the Jaq3 with an AC adapter, a USB cable, a wired headset, a leather belt holster, and reference material.

The I-mate Jaq3 offers a number of improvements over the Jaq as well as some proprietary apps to differentiate it from other Windows Mobile Pocket PC phones. First, as we noted in the beginning, the Jaq3 runs Windows Mobile 5 (Pocket PC Phone Edition) and not the latest Windows Mobile 6, so you'll miss out on some of the cool enhancements like e-mail search and the new Calendar ribbon. You do get the full Office Mobile Suite, including Word Mobile, Excel Mobile, and a PowerPoint viewer. ClearVue PDF is onboard if you need to view PDFs.

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