Nice rounded corners, shiny black fascia; this is a tidy looking smartphone.
The sweep-and-swipe front end is easy to master and puts a lot of what you need at your fingertips.
There is a lot going on here. Pay-as-you-go users might rack up the data charges
Responsive to the touch and a good turn of speed.
Battery life is average for a Windows Mobile Professional device. Just don’t over use the Wi-Fi and you should be OK for a day away from mains power.
This new Xda is made by Asus instead of HTC. This is a real departure for O2 who has been loyal to HTC for some time. It is also the first Xda to be available on a prepay tariff as well as on contract − all previous Xda devices have only been availableon contract.
When compared with the vast range of Windows Mobile 6.1 Professional smartphones that now pepper the market, the Xda Zest is nothing special. But then again, if you are loyal to O2, it is an interesting step forward for the operator – especially if you want a pay-as-you-go smartphone.
The Zest’s design is neat with rounded corners, and the shiny front fascia makes it attractive. The silver D-pad is nicely raised from the fascia so it is easy to hit accurately, and the remaining buttons − Call, End, Start and OK − are flush to the casing and depress easily.
One standout feature is the 640x480 resolution screen, which helps with clarity. The resolution is much higher than the 320x240 pixels we are used to on most Windows Mobile smartphones.
We also like the hold button on the right edge of the casing. This is a slider button, which turns the screen light off and disables all buttons and the touch-screen. If you make good use of this switch, there’s no way you can accidentally tap something while the device is in your pocket.
The Zest has 3G connectivity and a front-facing camera for two-way video calling. There is a second camera on the back, which shoots stills at three megapixels; however, it lacks a flash and auto-focus, so the pictures are not outstanding. The device has built-in GPS and we understand that it will offer a two-week trial of the CoPilot navigation software. Google Maps was also pre-installed on our review sample.
O2 has put its own front end onto Windows Mobile in order to make it look more user friendly. This uses a sweeping system similar to the TouchFLO, with one screen offering shortcuts to applications and settings. Sweep a finger left to right and the screen changes to the date and weather information with shortcuts to messages, emails and missed calls. Sweep again and you see a 4x4 grid of contacts. By sweeping up or down, you return to the Windows Mobile Today screen.
This system is nothing we haven’t seen before on other devices, but it is great to see O2 making an effort for its prepay customers.
If you are an O2 prepay customer and want an Xda, this is your chance to get one. Contract customers might think twice about upgrading, though.