HP iPaq 6315 / iPaq 6310 Review

by Reads (203,183)
  • Pros

    • Built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth
    • Excellent battery life, nearly 7 hours of usage with all features on
    • Nice looking design and solid feel

  • Cons

    • Slow processor at 168MHz, gives a generally sluggish response
    • 64MB of memory with 55MB accessible is not very generous for a $599 device
    • Camera is gimmicky and mostly useless


The HP iPaq 6300 series Pocket PC Phone is HP’s first dive into the integrated phone and PDA market. The HP iPaq 6315 unit being sold in the U.S. includes a camera while the iPaq 6310 sold in Europe does not. Both the iPaq 6310 and iPaq 6315 come with an array of wireless connectivity options and quad band GSM support to enable worldwide use. Converging two devices into one as the iPaq 6315 does makes a lot of sense, especially for mobile warriors, but the jack of all trades master of none paradigm applies to this device and buyers will have to weigh whether the benefits of carrying one device instead of two outweighs the drawbacks.

The iPaq 6300 series is squarely aimed at business users, mobile warriors and early adopter technology afficianados. Your average person will likely not shell out $599 for an integrated PDA/Phone device and many might not even understand all the technologies that the iPaq 6315 can support. Indeed having GPRS, Quad Band GSM, BlueTooth and 802.11b listed on a feature board next to this device might make the average consumer’s head spin and cause them to run away. However, if you’re a power user and know what’s up with technology then the iPaq 6315 could be a treasure chest of features that allows you to be as connected as you could ever want. Making phone calls, jamming out emails, sending instant messages, browsing the web and beaming contacts information are all within the capability set of the iPaq 6315.

iPaq 6315 Specs

Here’s a link to our database with specs for the iPaq 6315

iPaq 6315 Image Gallery

Here’s a link to media images for the iPaq 6315.

In the Box

Here’s what you’ll get in the box with your purchase of an iPaq 6310 / iPaq 6315:

  • iPaq 6300 Pocket PC Phone Device
  • ThumbPad Keyboard Snap-on accessory
  • USB Cradle and Charger
  • 1-stylus
  • 1800 mAh Rechargeable Lithium Ion battery
  • AC Adapter
  • Leather Case
  • SIM card
  • 3-different power outlet adapters for international charging
  • User manual and Quick Start guide
  • Wired Ear Bud headset (for hands free phone operation)
  • CD with Outlook 2002 and ActiveSync software

HP iPaq 6315 Look and Design

iPaq 2210 on the left, iPaq 6315 on the right

The HP iPaq 6315 has been styled much like the iPaq 2215 device. The rubber grips, Directional pad (D-pad), button layout and dimensions are all very similar between these devices. Above is a side by side picture. The iPaq 6315 is definitely thicker and longer due to its antenna, it also weighs more. The iPaq 6315 has dimensions of 5.42 x 2.94 x..82 inches (H x W x D) with a weight of 6.7 oz (190g). The iPaq 2215 is 4.54 x 3.00 x 0.61 inches (H x W x D) with a weight of 5.1 oz.

As far as aesthetics go, I liked the look of the iPaq 2210 a lot and I like the look of the 6315 equally so. It has clean curves, the case is solid, buttons are well located and it’s presented as being an overall tough, high-quality device — no plastic-like or toyish cheap looks here.

Let’s take a look at all the buttons, input ports, output ports and anything else that protrudes from the 6315 that’s worth noting:

iPaq 6315 Front

iPaq 6315 Back

iPaq 6315 Front

  1. Phone Receiver
  2. GSM/GPRS LED Indicator
  3. Bluetooth LED Indicator
  4. WLAN LED Indicator
  5. Power Button with Charging/Notification LED
  6. Volume Up Button
  7. Volume Down Button
  8. SD Expansion Card Slot
  9. Camera Button (on select models)
  10. Phone End Button
  11. Inbox Button
  12. 5-Way Navigation Button
  13. Charging/Communications Port
  14. Microphone
  15. Contacts Button
  16. Phone Send Button
  17. Soft Reset
  18. Voice Record Button
  19. Headset Connector
  20. Antenna

iPaq 6315 Back

  1. Hands-free Speaker
  2. Removable Battery
  3. Battery Lock
  4. Battery Latch
  5. Camera Lens (on select models)
  6. Stylus

There’s not much to complain about with the layout of this device. The headphone jack being located on the left-side is okay, I much prefer on top as it was on the iPaq 2215, but there’s an antenna sitting where the headphone jack could have been located. The Treo 600 and upcoming 650 puts the headphone jack on the bottom of the device — dumb move, since it makes it much harder to put the device in your pocket and then use headphones to listen to audio.

The SDIO slot has been put on the right-side of the 6315, which is a deviation from the norm for most iPaq devices that generally have this slot on top. No complaints on the right side location though, the SD card silo ejects the card easily and smoothly, if it was a violent ejection then I’d worry about the SD card flying onto the floor from this position but this simply doesn’t happen.

Wireless Options with the iPaq 6315

The 6315 provides an alphabet soup of wireless communication options. The phone aspect of the 6315 uses a GSM network for voice transfer. To retrieve data such as email and web pages you’ll use the built-in 802.11b Wi-Fi radio capability or the GPRS receiving capabilities of the 6315. If you’re in range of an 802.11b wireless network that will be the default go to for retrieving internet data, when such a network is not available your iPaq will look for a GPRS network to retrieve data. Note that if you have a T-Mobile plan you don’t get access to their GPRS service by default, you’ll need to add this feature on and it costs around $20 extra per month (visit www.T-Mobile.com for exact plans and up to date costs). Bluetooth and IrDA are the other wireless options you’ll get with the iPaq 6315. Bluetooth is good for pairing with other devices such as a bluetooth enabled cell phone, laptop computer or printer; you can then send data to these devices and printing from your PDA becomes doable. IrDA is also good for communicating with other PDAs or a laptop computer, using IrDA you can also turn your iPaq into a TV remote control if you buy software such as Total Remote (http://www.griffintechnology.com/griffinmobile/totalremote/ $24.99).

Confused? Let’s define each of these wireless terms:

  • GSM – The Global System for Mobile Communications Service, or GSM, is the most widely adopted, digital cellular technology in use today. GSM uses time and frequency division techniques (TDMA and FDMA) to optimize the call carrying capacity of a wireless network. In addition to voice services GSM also provides a number of carefully standardized and broadly supported capabilities such as Short Message Service (SMS), circuit switched data (CSD) and General Packet Radio Services (GPRS). (more info: http://www.gsmworld.com/)
  • GPRS – General Packet Radio Service,or GPRS, refers to a packet-based wireless communication service that promises data rates from 56 up to 114 Kbps and continuous connection to the Internet for wireless phone and mobile computer users. The higher data rates as well as the “always connected” mode of operation opens the door to new non-voice applications and services. GPRS was designed as an enhancement to GSM communications, but will probably be adapted and adopted by at least some network operators using technologies other than GSM. (more info: http://www.gsmworld.com/)
  • Wi-Fi 802.11b – An international IEEE standard for Wireless Local Area Networks (WLAN), that operates at 2.4 GHz frequency and provides 11 Mbps data transfer rates. This is the wireless standard that has become most popular in households today and most wireless routers on the market are based on this standard. (more info: http://grouper.ieee.org/groups/802/11/)
  • BlueTooth – Wireless technology that provides a low cost short-range (around 30 feet) wireless specification for connecting mobile devices.(more info: http://www.bluetooth.com)
  • IrDA – InfraRed Data Association (IrDA) is a group of device manufacturers that developed a standard for transmitting data via infrared light waves, this standard is common in television remote controls for example. (http://www.irda.org/)

HP has included a nice application that makes it easy to change settings or turn on and off each of the wireless options available.

The iPaq Wireless application is user friendly, making it easy to turn on and off wireless options and configure settings

A word of advice, turning off a wireless option can help to save power.

T-Mobile and the iPaq 6315 Phone Aspect

My typical wireless phone device is a Sony Ericsson t68i phone.

The iPaq 6315 (left) is bigger than what I’m used to using for a phone device, the Sony Ericsson t68i (right)

Yes, I know the t68 is so last year and an old phone at this point, but I’ve stuck with it because it’s small and a champ on battery life My favorite PDA of choice would be the iPaq 4150 (my review of the iPaq 4150), the small form factor iPaq with built-in 802.11b Wi-Fi.

My favorite PDA is the iPaq 4150 due to its small size

In other words, I like small and I’m not bothered by having to carry two smaller type devices, especially if they’re able to communicate via Bluetooth anyway. So I put my t68i and PDA aside and turned them in for the h6315, an all in one Pocket PC Phone device. I was a skeptic in the beginning and after using the device for 2 weeks I still am. The phone aspect of the h6315 is just not all there, it’s fine as a PDA, but I find myself challenged using it as a phone and I have to say that I can’t get over the nagging feeling that holding a larger style PDA to your head and talking just looks, well, dorky.

But here are a few specific reasons I find the 6315 challenging in use as a phone:

  • I don’t like having the keyboard attached as it makes the iPaq “UnPocket PC” so the best way to tap out digits is using a stylus or your finger on the screen. Try walking down the street and doing this, it’s challenging. Then try doing this in New York City where every five steps the iPaq picks up a new wireless network and pops up a window asking if you’d like to connect, this window appears right over where the “2” button was on the screen you wanted to push so now you have to close the modal window using a stylus to get at the small “Yes” button and then go back to dialing the number. You’ll have to turn off wi-fi in such instances, or you’ll go batty and want to throw your $599 phone.
  • It’s just uncomfortable to hold a large flat device to your ear, plus all that oil on your face ends up on the screen. I really hate knowing how much oil and other crap there is on my face (no I don’t have acne and yes I do shower daily), so transferring it to the screen reminds me that I’m a sweaty and oily human being.
  • If I hit 4# on the screen using my fingers to access the number I know is in my 4th speed dial position instead of actually dialing the number it pops up a “would you like to dial this number” modal “yes / no” window, the buttons are too small to tap with your finger on the screen and neither button is selected by default so hitting the D-Pad as an enter action doesn’t work. Once again, you have to pull out the stylus and tap “yes” to dial. I hate using a stylus to use the phone.
  • Service from T-Mobile in New York City is horrible, I can’t use this device in my apartment or office to make phone calls because my reception is usually non-existent. I live in Manhattan and work in an office downtown in the financial district of the city, I guess T-Mobile just doesn’t view a city of 9 million people as much of a market to worry about. PCMag.com made the same comment in their review of the h6315:

    “The h6315 works fine as a phone, with an internal speaker that’s loud enough, although it can’t be used as a speakerphone. Our early test unit connected easily to a Bluetooth headset. The audio was a bit hissy and muddy, but we chalked that up to the T-Mobile network, which is wobbly near our offices in New York City.” (link to PCMag Review)

    They say real estate is a very local thing, well I guess cell phone coverage quality based on provider is too, so I recommend investigating how good T-Mobile is in your area, if you live in New York then I fully recommend not going with T-Mobile and therefore not buying this device. Yes, it’s really that frustrating. Sprint or Verizon are good in this city, but Verizon cripples Bluetooth in any phone device so my recommendation would be Sprint (again, this holds true for the city I live in, ask around for the area you live in as to what providers are decent).

Phone Screen for the iPaq 6315

Now so as not to be totally negative, there are definitely some nice customizations T-Mobile/HP have put into this device. I like the fact there’s easy access to call logs and missed calls from the Today Screen. If I miss a call or get a voice mail while away from the device these areas flash orange on the screen when I turn the screen on again. Nothing like good visual feedback. I can just tap these flashing areas to see where the calls came from that I missed or jump to voicemail.

quick shortcuts from the Today Screen make it easy to access voice mail and missed calls

iPaq 6315 Processor

Looking back, 2001 was not such a good year: the stock market tanked, terrorism hit the U.S. like never before, a President that lost the popular vote entered the White House, Israel and Palestine fought, bombs fell on Afghanistan and we still had to deal with some PDA processor speeds that were below 200MHz. Welcome back to 2001. The iPaq 6315 has a Texas Instruments OMAP 1510 168MHz processor. Yes I know it’s not legitimate to compare say a 624MHz Intel XScale processor to another class of processor that might have more efficient cycles or dual processing, but the fact is that benchmarks and use of the 6315 demonstrate that this 168MHz processor from TI is just plain slow when compared to devices such as the Dell Axim X3 that carry an Intel XScale 624MHz chip.

Here’s a few graphics from benchmarks we got running SPB Benchmark software on the h6315:

6315 Benchmarks

6315 Benchmarks

6315 Benchmarks

I could post more benchmarks, but you get the point, the 6315 is dead last in just about every test of system speed. Is HP looking to save battery power or costs using this slower processor? Well, I don’t know what the ultimate product design decision was in choosing the slower TI 168MHz processor over a more standard PDA processor such as the Intel XScale 400 MHz, but the good news side of this decision is that the h6315 does have very good battery life thanks in part to this processor. I should also emphasize that it might be true that HP found issues when running an Intel XScale processor inside a phone device. TI has a lot of experience developing processors for phone devices and making sure the processor doesn’t interfere with the phone capabilities of such a device. If HP put a really fast processor in the h6315 that in turn caused interference and loud hissing when using the phone, I think users might be a little upset.

The question most will want to know is if the slow processor of the 6315 is noticeable in use? Well, yes it is. The sluggish performance of the h6315 is especially noticeable after you’ve used faster devices such as a Dell Axim X3. Large word documents take a longer time to open, switching between programs has some lag, even clicking the start menu provides a noticeably slower response than on speedier devices. However, as I said before, the trade-off is very good battery life for such a feature loaded PDA and the processor is made by a company more experienced making processors that work well in cell phones.

iPaq 6315 Battery Life

Since I just talked about the processor and mentioned the battery life was really good, it’s logical to talk about this next. The battery for the iPaq 6315 is a 1800 mAh Lithium Ion rechargeable that is removable and therefore replaceable. You can upgrade to an extended battery with 3600 mAh of juice. Before you splurge on the extended life battery option, you should know that even with the standard battery you’ll get about 7 hours of usage out of the iPaq 6315. That’s an incredible amount of time, this number is quoted based on all of the wireless options being turned on and having the screen turned to full brightness! This is by far the best battery life I’ve had on any PDA. It’s really important to have good battery life in a phone device, and HP pulled through on this. I consistently get 6 – 7 hours of use out of the iPaq before needing to charge it again.

iPaq 6315 Memory

The iPaq comes with 64-MB of SDRAM of which 55MB is user accessible and 64MB of ROM. The “iPaq File Store” provides 21 MB of non-volatile storage, which means that files stored in this area will survive a hard reset of the device. Put your valuable data and programs here or on an external SD card. Using the SD card slot you can give yourself extra storage by buying an SD memory card, these cards can be purchased with storage capacities of up to 1GB. The 55MB of space available is somewhat confining and not as much as devices that cost the equivalent amount as this one. I would have liked to have seen 128MB.

iPaq 6315 ThumbPad

Some people believe the thumbpad should have just been integrated into the iPaq 6315, I like the flexibility of being able to add and remove this accessory. Most of the time I have this keyboard off simply because it makes the device so thick. When typing emails or browsing the web it really makes input easier though. I have smallish fingers and had no problems using the keyboard, those with larger digits might not find this to be the case.

iPaq 6315 with Thumbpad attached, it’s easy to snap the thumbpad onto the bottom and then remove it again. The only feature you really lose by adding the thumbpad is having access to the Directional Pad

When first trying to attach the keyboard I was frustrated by the fact the iPaq did not recognize the new hardware immediately. No matter what I did the keyboard wouldn’t work. You have to go into Start > Settings > iPaq Keyboard > check “enable keyboard” to get the thing working, but even after doing this it was no go for me. I had to soft reset the device and do this process again to finally get the iPaq to recognize the keyboard and start working with it. Doing soft resets to solve problems is not a desirable thing and reflects the fact either the hardware or the OS is slightly buggy.

iPaq 6315 Screen

the iPaq 6315 Screen is overall good and viewable in outdoor situations (view larger image)

The iPaq 6315 has a transflective type TFT 3.5 inch diagonal viewable screen with a 240 x 320 pixel resolution, this is very standard fair for a PDA screen. It is much better than the Treo 600’s pitiful 160 x 160 pixel resolution. The iPaq 6315 screen is bright and also works well in outdoor situations, this is very important for a phone device because you will of course be using a phone outside as well as in. When compared to other PDAs the iPaq 6315 screen does appear to be somewhat washed out and contrast is not as good as say the old iPaq 1910 screen (iPaq 1910 review). Unfortunately I have to report that the iPaq 6315, like other past iPaq devices, does suffer from having a yellowish hue when viewed from certain large viewing angles. It’s not as bad as on some of the past iPaq devices, but it’s still there. Overall though the screen is good and I wouldn’t class it as either a strong or weak point of the device, but rather I’d give it just a “good enough” rating!

iPaq 6315 Camera

If you buy the iPaq h6315 in the U.S. you’ll get a built-in camera, the European version (h6310) does not have this. The camera has a VGA resolution (640 x 480), I kind of wish the camera would have been left out and a VGA resolution screen would have been substituded. In my opinion, anything under 1.0 Megapixels is a gimmick and not really a camera. If you are using the camera in dim lighting or indoor situations the picture will be so dark as to be pointless. You really need to be outside in full light to use the camera. I’ll never use the camera except for when demonstrating the device to people and saying, “hey look, it even has a camera.” I guess it has social value in that sense. The built-in Image capture application and Image view application from HP is nice and makes it easy to take shots. The camera doesn’t do the nice software justice though, shame.

HP included some nice image capture software with the iPaq 6315, just push the big round button to take a picture!

The camera is on the back of the iPaq, there’s no cover for the lens but it is recessed enough as to be safe from scratching, although it’s a fairly useless camera at least it makes the device seem cooler!

For an example of how the HP camera compares to a 3.2 Megapixel camera checkout the following links:

Here’s a link to a picture taken with the HP iPaq 6310 Camera

Here’s a link to the same picture taken in the same light with a 3.2 MegaPixel Camera

Software

The iPaq comes with Windows Mobile 2003 Phone Edition and not Windows Mobile 2003 Second Edition, so switching to landscape mode and other such new features in Second Edition are not included. Some will be disappointed by this, but it makes sense that HP and T-Mobile went with an OS flavor more adapted to handling the phone feature. Here’s a list of the built-in operating system software:

  • Phone Edition Calendar,
  • Contacts
  • Tasks
  • Voice Recorder
  • Notes
  • Pocket Word (with Spellchecker)
  • Pocket Excel
  • Pocket Internet Explorer
  • Windows Media Player 9 (MP3, audio and video streaming)
  • Calculator
  • Solitaire
  • Jawbreaker
  • Inbox (with Spell Checker for email)
  • Microsoft Reader (eBooks)
  • File Explorer, Pictures
  • Terminal Services Client
  • VPN Client
  • Infrared Beaming
  • Clock
  • Align Screen
  • Volume control
  • ClearType Tuner.

Also included is a set of HP applications:

  • iPAQ Wireless: utility to manage wireless connections
  • HP Profiles: set and name profiles to be used at different times for different functions, such as ring type, volume, brightness and wireless settings
    Bluetooth Manager
  • iPAQ File Store for managing non-volatile storage in flash ROM
  • iPAQ Backup utility for Backup/Restore to Main Memory, Memory Card or iPAQ File Store
  • HP Image Capture – an application to take digital photographs with the integrated camera)
  • HP Image Zone for Pocket PC – an application to view, edit images and create slide shows
  • HP Image Transfer – an application to transfer digital photographs from the iPAQ to your personal computer.
  • ClearVue Presentation – allows you to view and present PowerPoint presentations (but not edit)
  • ClearVue PDF – opens and allows you to view PDF files
  • AOL Instant Messenger
  • Yahoo Messenger
  • ICQ

You of course get Outlook 2002 for synching your email, contacts, calendar events and notes between the PDA and desktop computer. ActiveSync, the application used to synch the iPaq and desktop files/personal information, is also included on a CD. Overall the software bundle is decent, but nothing to write home about.

Conclusion

You just have to know what type of person you are in regards to your technology tastes to determine if the iPaq 6315 is right for you. Personally I prefer a small phone and small PDA, I simply don’t like using a bulky device as my mobile phone. Some people don’t mind this at all, they’re more than happy to chuck two devices for the convenience of having one. The iPaq 6315 certainly isn’t perfect, but I think it’s a good first effort for this type of device from HP. They made trade-offs in the product design, such as including a slower processor but providing better battery life. The built-in wi-fi, good hi-res screen and Bluetooth means HP is 3 major features ahead of the palmOne Treo 600 which has none of these features. But if you’re a Palm die hard or prefer a device that thinks it’s more of a phone than a PDA, then the Treo line or Motorola MPx 200 might make more sense for you. Overall it’s a 7 out of 10 for the iPaq 6315. Good, but certainly room for improvement.

Pros

  • Built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth
  • Excellent battery life, nearly 7 hours of usage with all features on
  • Nice looking design and solid feel
  • Global device that can be used on GSM networks and supports quad band, even the charger comes with switchable adapters for charging in other countries.
  • If you have GPRS added to your T-Mobile account as an option you’ll be connected to the internet whereever you go and the iPaq 6315 will switch between wireless options to keep you connected to receive/send emails.

Cons

  • Slow processor at 168MHz, gives a generally sluggish response
  • 64MB of memory with 55MB accessible is not very generous for a $599 device
  • Camera is gimmicky and mostly useless
  • You’re stuck using T-Mobile if you want to use this device, if T-Mobile has no coverage or bad coverage in your area then you are out of luck.
  • Some bugginess causes unexplainable problems such as the snap-on keyboard not working momentarily, often only remedied by a soft reset of the device.

iPaq 6300 Resource Links

For further research on the iPaq 6315 check out the following resources:

Pricing and Availability


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