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The i-mate Ultimate 8502 and i-mate Ultimate 9502 Pocket PC review
Posted on 21-Aug-2008 05:36 by M Freitas | Tags Filed under: Reviews


This is a review I have been sitting on for a while - mainly because I wanted to use those two devices while roaming overseas. Those are two business-oriented Windows Mobile 6 devices, with lots to appreciate - and dislike.

The i-mate Ultimate series is currently the company's top of its line of Windows Mobile-based Pocket PC Phone devices. I had the chance to test these devices both within New Zealand and while travelling abroad - and that's why it took it so long to post this review.

Let's first have a look at the specs for each handset:


the i-mate Ultimate 8502 (left) and i-mate ultimate 9502

i-mate Ultimate 8502
- Phone: triband UMTS/HSDPA/HSUPA (850/1900/2100 MHz), quadband GSM/GPRS/EDGE (850/900/1800/1900 MHz)
- Operating System: Windows Mobile 6 Professional
- Dimensions: 116mm(L) x 55mm(W) x 15mm(T)
- Weight: 140 grams (with battery)
- Processor: 400 MHz Qualcomm MSM 7200
- Memory: 256MB ROM, 128MB RAM
- Wi-Fi: Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g
- Bluetooth: V2.0
- Screen: 2.6 QVGA 262k colour LCD Touch Screen
- Camera: 2.0 Megapixel digital camera/video with fixed focus
- Video Out: Composite
- Expansion slot: Supports Micro SD expansion cards
- Battery: 1530mAh
- Talk time: Up to 4 hours
- Stand by time: Up to 180 hours

i-mate Ultimate 9502
- Phone: triband UMTS/HSDPA/HSUPA (850/1900/2100 MHz), quadband GSM/GPRS/EDGE (850/900/1800/1900 MHz)
- Operating System: Windows Mobile 6 Professional
- Dimensions: 116mm(L) x 60mm(W) x 17.8mm(T)
- Weight: 200 grams (with battery)
- Processor: 400 MHz Qualcomm MSM 7200
- Memory: 256MB ROM, 128MB RAM
- Wi-Fi: Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g
- Bluetooth: V2.0
- Screen: 2.8 VGA 262k colour LCD Touch Screen
- Camera: 3.0 Megapixel digital camera/video with auto focus
- Video Out: Composite
- Expansion slot: Supports Micro SD expansion cards
- Battery: 1620mAH
- Talk time: Up to 4 hours
- Stand by time: Up to 180 hours

First impressions count a bit: these are functional devices - not a fashion statement. Having said that I have grown to like the i-mate ultimate 8502 because of its smaller size. The i-mate Ultimate 9502 is rather large, and while the sliding keyboard is quite a neat feature I found the keys to be not as good as the ones on the i-mate 8502.


The i-mate Ultimate 9502 is rather large, and heavy

The keyboard on the i-mate Ultimate 8502 is nice - responsive, with a rubbery feel to the keys and easy to use. I have been replying to e-mails, posting on Geekzone, updating my Twitter and I don't feel tired after typing for a while. I also liked the little joystick on the i-mate Ultimate 8502, and used it a lot - more than the jog dial on the side of the handset. On the other hand the d-pad and center button on the i-mate Ultimate 9502 was a disappointment.





The VGA screen on the i-mate ultimate 9502 is really nice. One of the best VGA screens around. But overall the device is so big and heavy that given the chance I decided to use the other option during my walks.

The i-mate Ultimate 9502 also seems to suffer in two other fronts: battery life and responsiveness. With Direct Push enabled I saw the battery go flat in about two thirds of a day, while the i-mate Ultimate 8502 lasted a bit longer.

In terms of responsiveness, i think i-mate would make a lot of happier users if they had either a faster processor or a very good look around to find out why the i-mate Ultimate 9502 feels so slow - and freezes so much. No joking I had to soft reset the device twice a day while using it.

The i-mate Ultimate 8502 on the other hand seems faster, and is solid.

Voice calls worked ok in both models, with no quality problems - except those cause by bad coverage provided by the operators.

Both devices have built-in cameras (a higher resolution 3.0 megapixels on the i-mate Ultimate 9502 and a lower resolution 2.0 megapixels on the i-mate Ultimate 8502). They both took very good pictures and you can see an example here (660 Kbytes).

Both devices come with Wi-Fi and Bluetooth - and they work as advertised, including using the handsets as dial-up modem over Bluetooth for fast 3G connections on your laptop for example.

And talking about 3G that's where I really enjoyed both devices. The i-mate Ultimate 9502 and i-mate Ultimate 9502 support WCDMA/HSDPA 850/1900/2100 MHz meaning they worked in both New Zealand - and the U.S. where there is the less common 850 MHz band. This is a bonus, since Telecom New Zealand previously announced plans to migrate its CDMA network to WCDMA 2100 MHz - and possibly even to 850 MHz. It also means those devices work with Australian Telstra HSDPA, which also run in the 850 MHz. In summary both a great world devices.

Built-in GPS is a feature in both devices, but no map software was included. No problem, let's use Google Maps for Windows Mobile. Configuration was easy - just let the software use the standard OS-managed GPS connections and it will find the GPS. Accuracy is another story though. I understand the GPS may take some time to get a fix if you move from one side of the planet to another - but it took the i-mate Ultimate 8502 about 50 minutes facing up the sky in San Francisco to find the satellites. After that it worked well, downloading the maps at HSDPA speeds. But did it take long or what to start working?

Users can easily configure the devices using a pre-installed program that downloads the setup information you create at the company's website. Just inform your username and password and it will download configurations such as Exchange server connections, Direct Push schedule (peak/off peak times), security settings and e-mail settings. Very handy if you need to quickly configure your device after an update - or a hard reset.

My pick? As you may have guessed I decided that the i-mate ultimate 9502 wasn't for me. Even being the top of the line, with a solid metal backing, leather top, it is slow and heavy. The i-mate ultimate 8502 on the other hand was a pleasure to use and the winner here.





More information: http://www.imate.com...

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