i-mate Ultimate 8502 review: i-mate Ultimate 8502

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The Good Excellent connectivity including HSPA, GPS and Wi-Fi. Slim and solid build. TV-out. Telstra services including Foxtel.

The Bad Tiny QWERTY keyboard. Lower resolution display compared to previous i-mates.

The Bottom Line With its smaller size, better connectivity and improved battery life, the Ultimate 8502 is the excellent smartphone the previous i-mates were so close to being.

9.1 Overall

After the bulky, pocket-bulging i-mate Ultimate 6150 and 8150, this latest, slimmer i-mate is a real treat. Measuring in at 116x55mm and 15mm thick, the 8502 is similar to RIM's BlackBerry Pearl 8120 when in your hand or pocket, albeit a little heavier.

The best part is that compared to the previous Ultimate phones, the 8502 has even greater mechanical input. On the left side there's still a jog-wheel and 'OK' button, on the right side is volume adjustment buttons and a dedicated camera key.

Below the 2.6-inch QVGA display is a full QWERTY keypad; a feature that seems to have been quite a tricky obstacle for smartphone designers lately. Business users who are replying to emails and messages want the speed and accuracy of a QWERTY keypad, and everyone wants smaller, lighter mobile handsets. The tiny keys in the 8502's keyboard are the trade off in this case, however, we have to say the i-mate engineers have done a good job trying to compensate for the size by raising each of the buttons to a pyramid-like point, making the keys slightly more distinguishable when typing quickly. Even still, a numeric keypad or half-size QWERTY pad, like on the BlackBerry Pearl, would have made more sense given the space available.

The 8502 and its sister phone the 9502 have the prestigious honour of being the first full HSPA smartphones available in Australia, to be followed by a couple of Samsung phones and the Sony Ericsson Xperia X1 mid-year. HSPA refers to support not only for HSDPA (High Speed Downlink Packet Access) downloads but also HSUPA (High Speed Uplink Packet Access) uploads as well.

HSPA data may seem like overkill on a mobile device for anyone who doesn't intend to send large files attached to emails. Where the speeds will be really handy is when the handset shares its mobile broadband with your PC. It's here that HSPA should offer a similar mobile broadband experience to your fixed line ADSL2 connection.

When released the Ultimate 8502 and 9502 will be available exclusively through Telstra. As with all other Next G phones, the new i-mates will be able to stream mobile TV, like Foxtel. The Ultimate series phones also feature video-out, which coupled with mobile TV gives you a low-res (VGA) alternative to paying for subscription TV at home or in a motel.

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