Sunday, February 19, 2006


Via CoolSmartPhone, via The::Unwired (who place this as the first Windows Mobile Powered UMTS Smartphone - although personally, I take the view that the HTC Universal (AKA Orange M5000) recieves this honor) we have the Asus P305, an attractive 3G Windows Smartphone. Asus have been in the smartphone game for a long time now, but produce few handsets, and don't tend to have a great deal of success. In the UK, certainly, they're not well known for their smartphones. This model however has two advantages - it's one of only 2 Windows Mobile clamshells currently planned for release, and only one of 2 UMTS (3G) Windows Mobile handsets (providing it launches before the HTC Hermes). It's unfair to compare it to the HTC Universal, so for this overview, comparisons will be drawn to the HTC Startrek (AKA the i-mate Smartflip and the Qtek 8500)

First impressions are that it looks pretty good, but it has a distinctively 'ASUS' look about it. There's always something about their handsets that suggests there might be something missing - like it was designed according to the rulebook of smartphone design, but there's something impersonal and generic about it.

The ASUS P305 has a loudspeaker on the back of the handset, and the front of the flip includes an external screen and some media buttons, skip, play, pause - much like the Samsung E720. At the top portion of the flip, there is a camera, although ASUS have not released any details on the specs, and there's also a secondary camera for video calling built into the inside of the flip below the screen. The phone is also equipped with Bluetooth 1.2.

ASUS seem quite excited about the fact that the phone has software and hardware that can improve the "3G experience". The Maximum speed of UMTS is 384 Kbps, and the phone is able to take full advantage of these speed in both uplink and downlink (truth is, you will only get these speeds if you are the only person in range of a cell). I'm really not sure what they're going on about. The only thing that makes any sense is that the phone is powerful enough to remove any possible bottleneck of data at the phone end. Actually, I just checked ASUS' site and that's exactly what it is. They've stuffed in a powerful CPU, probably an Intel Xscale 412Mhz, and they're expecting a round of applause. I'd love to see what that does to the battery life.

Now in comparison to the HTC Startrek, the ASUS P305 obviously has some pros, and some cons, but while they're perhaps the most similar phones to each other due to their form factor, and the fact that they run Windows Mobile 5, they're not directly comparable. The HTC Startrek is a simple stylish smartphone, that can deliver more than it promises - I'm sure there are people out there reading this that have had smartphones for years and never used it to even remotely its full capability - but the point is it can do a lot of things very well, so it appeals to a lot of people. The P305 kind of balances on a knife-edge. It's the only phone ASUS have released in a while, and they're attempting to fill 2 niche markets with one phone. What they've ended up with is very bulky, kind of gormless looking, and is likely to have problems from trying to push the envelope of what it's trying to do. I just can't imagine the battery lasting a day if you make a few video calls and listen to some music. Even if it has a lower voltage Texas instruments CPU. My guess is that this will encounter problems and never launch, and if it does, be picked up in limited quantities after better devices have launched.

Verdict: Nice try ASUS, but you may want to stick to motherboards.



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