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i-mate Jaq3 review: i-mate Jaq3

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.

Bonnie Cha Former Editor
Bonnie Cha was a former chief correspondent for CNET Crave, covering every kind of tech toy imaginable (with a special obsession for robots and Star Wars-related stuff). When she's not scoping out stories, you can find her checking out live music or surfing in the chilly waters of Northern California.
Bonnie Cha
7 min read


i-mate Jaq3

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.

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.

Outlook Mobile comes with the Jaq3 as part of the Office Mobile Suite and supports Microsoft's Direct Push technology for real-time e-mail delivery. I-mate includes its own e-mail client, which you can set up via the phone's Club I-mate e-mail app. Instant, text, and multimedia messaging are all supported.

In addition to these apps, the Jaq3 also ships with the I-mate Suite, which provides productivity and security tools to the business user and a solution that allows IT professionals to manage the device. There are three apps in total: I-mate 1-View for remote access to your desktop or network; I-mate Backup for remotely backing up data and; I-mate Control so your company's IT department can remotely configure or troubleshoot the Jaq3. There are a couple of other extra utilities and PIM tools, such as an eTrust Antivirus app, a calculator, a voice recorder, and a download agent.

The I-mate Jaq3 is a quad-band phone so globe-trotting execs will be able to use the mobile overseas. The address book is limited only by the available memory (the SIM card holds an additional 250 contacts) and is quite robust. You can store up to 11 numbers for a single entry as well as home and work addresses, e-mail, IM screen name, birthday, and spouse's name. For caller ID purposes, you can pair a contact with a photo, a caller group, or one of eight polyphonic ringtones. You also get a vibrate mode, a speakerphone, conference calling, voice dialing, and a SIM manager.

The wireless options are improved on the Jaq3, namely it now has integrated Wi-Fi (802.11b/g). The Wireless Manager immediately found our test access point, and we were able to connect and start surfing the Web in seconds. Bluetooth 1.2 is still onboard with support for a number of profiles, including A2DP for stereo Bluetooth headsets, hands-free kits, object exchange, and dial-up networking (DUN) so you can use the Jaq3 as a modem for your laptop. There also is an Internet Sharing utility in the Programs menu that can help you set up the device for DUN capabilities, either via USB or Bluetooth. Unfortunately, there's no support for 3G, though it does operate on EDGE networks.

Even with a 2-megapixel lens, the photo quality wasn't great.

The final enhancement is the addition of a 2-megapixel camera with video-recording capabilities and a 4x zoom. There's no flash, but there are brightness settings and a choice of five environment settings (auto, daylight, fluorescent, tungsten, or night). Other editing options include different effects, three quality settings, and seven resolutions. However, videos only have one resolution option, but you can set the recording length to 15 or 30 minutes or to the limit of available memory. Onboard memory is limited at about 60MB for user storage, so save these types of files onto a microSD card. Photo quality was disappointing as images looked slightly blurred and the colors were dull.

We tested the quad-band (GSM 850/900/1800/1900; GPRS/EDGE) I-mate Jaq3 in San Francisco using Cingular service, and call quality was pretty poor. There was a noticeable hiss as we were talking to our friends, so much so it was quite distracting, and our callers said we sounded crackly and muddled--not good. Activating the speakerphone actually helped clear things up on the other end as friends said the audio was better, but we thought they sounded far away and had a hard time hearing them. The one bright note is we had no problems pairing the phone with the Logitech Mobile Traveller Bluetooth headset.

General performance was subpar. The smart phone is powered by a 200MHz processor and there's only about 20MB free to run programs, so when we had numerous applications open, the device slowed to crawl. Also, the screen froze on us several times, and we had to power the handset off then on again to get back on track. Web browsing on the Jaq3 was fairly quick with EDGE speeds, though we would much prefer 3G. Multimedia performance also was pretty bad. Songs played through the phone's speakers sounded weak and lacked bass; however, plugging in the included headset definitely improved the situation and could stand in for your MP3 player if you're in a pinch. Video playback was choppy, and the audio and video rarely synced up.

The I-mate Jaq3's battery is rated for 4 hours of talk time and up to 6 days of standby time. In our tests, we were able to get 4.5 hours of talk time on a single charge.


i-mate Jaq3

Score Breakdown

Design 6Features 7Performance 4