Okay, so I hate that the Treo is the smartphone that everything is compared against, but that’s the best way to quickly describe style of the HP iPAQ hw6515 Mobile Messenger. The 3 inch screen has a resolution of 240 x 240 and the thumb keyboard below the screen is very easy to use. Slightly raised buttons and a positive click sound to each button make it easy to tell what (and if) you’ve depressed. Besides the standard keyboard keys, there are a few additional buttons. There is a green phone button to enter the phone app and dial a number. There is also the red phone button to end a call. A hardware button for Contacts and one to access the Messaging application are on either side of a thumbstick. The thumbstick is a 4-way directional control with a click action to confirm your choices. The thumbstick allows true one-handed operation of the phone features which I consider a critical feature of a smartphone. A nice backlight tops things off.
On the back of the phone, you’ll find the user-replaceable lithium-ion battery, the camera lens, a light for the camera, and a nice little convex mirror for self pictures.
On the left side of the device (while looking at the front) is a spring-loaded slider switch to control the volume. While not on a call, it controls the volume of the screen clicks and keyboard clicks. During a call, it controls the speaker volume. I really wish you could have the option to use the slider to adjust the ringer volume, but I didn’t find a way to do so easily. There may be a registry hack out there to assign the hardware button to the ringer volume. Also on the left side is a button to activate the camera application and to capture a picture. The infrared port also resides on the left side.
On the right side of the smartphone is the stylus silo and the two slots for the SD card and mini-SD card.
On the bottom edge, you’ll find the reset pin, the headphone / ear bud jack, a hole for the microphone, and the jack to plug the device in for charging or syncing.
Overall, the device is a good size (for what it is). A nice flip cover protects the screen from the usual face grease when you’re on a call. The buttons are nice, not too easy to push, but just enough to give your fingers nice feedback when you need to type.
Also included in the box is a nice belt clip that rotates, a ear bud / headphone that has two ear buds for listening to music, or you can just use the one to talk on the phone. There is a microphone a few inches down from the ear bud for placement by your mouth.
|Processor:||Intel PXA272 Processor 312MHz|
|Operating System:|| |
Windows Mobile 2003 Second Edition – Phone Edition
240 x 240 transmissive/reflective LCD
64 MB RAM; 64 MB flash memory
|Size & Weight:||4.6″ long x 2.8″ wide x 0.7″ thick, 5.8 ounces|
|Expansion:||Single Mini-SD slot, SD slot|
standard USB cradle
Quad-band GSM, GPRS, EDGE; Bluetooth 1.2;
2.5mm headset/headphone jack; speakerphone; speaker & mouthpiece for phone
|Battery:||1200 mAh Lithium Ion rechargeable/replaceable battery;|
|Input:||QWERTY thumb keyboard; touchscreen; re-mappable application buttons|
|Other:||1.3 MP camera|
This device sports the Intel PXA272 Processor 312MHz processor. It seemed quite sufficient for what I was using it for and I didn’t notice any sluggishness. If you get into heavy media playing you might feel a little lag, but music playing and picture viewing works well.
The funny story about the hw6515 is that even though it was just released in the US, and it’s successor was announced before it’s US release, it’s stuck with Windows Mobile 2003. It will not be getting an upgrade to Windows Mobile 2005. As such, you get the standard features of Windows Mobile 2003.
The display, a 3 inch QVGA screen was bright and easy to see, even if the backlight wasn’t on all the way. It was perfectly viewable in direct sunlight.
The hw6515 has 64MB of SDRAM and 64MB of flash ROM. Not an amazing amount, but fair given that this device was announced almost a year ago.
Size & Weight
This iPAQ is not as slim as similar devices, but it will be close. It slips into a pocket well. It is 4.6 inches high by 2.8 inches wide by 0.7 inches thick. It weighs in at 5.8 ounces.
With this device you get both a standard sized SD slot and a mini-SD slot. Once the cards are inserted fully, they lie flush with the side of the device (unless you use a WiFi SD card, which will extend out the side). Mini-SD hasn’t picked up much market share yet, but these tiny memory form factors are going to be the standard on Smartphones. Since there’s a premium placed on space, it makes sense. I think HP is just getting us used to the idea of mini-SD, so when they pull the standard size, it won’t be so much of a shock. The Bluetooth connection also allows for expansion with Bluetooth enabled accessories, like GPS units.
The HP does ship with a dock. The power cord can either be plugged directly into the device or you can remove the dongle to plug the cord directly into the base. Connect the USB cable between the base and the computer, and you’re ready to sync.
From a cellular standpoint, this phone is good to go on the GSM/GPRS/EDGE networks, but in the US it’s locked to Cingular. To review the phone, we utilized the folks at www.gsmphonesource.com to unlock the phone so I could use my existing T-Mobile account. For $40, they provide a great service. Since I did this, I wasn’t able to take advantage of an EDGE network because T-Mobile doesn’t provide that service, but standard GSM and GPRS service worked well. The GPRS was sufficiently fast to sync with my Exchange server.
The device does not have WiFi, but you can always get an SD card capable of doing this, although the antenna sticking out the side would be a little goofy. Bluetooth was simple to set up and you always have the infrared port to use as well.
The phone volume was actually very good. At the highest volume setting, the phone was just fine in the car at highway speeds and too powerful for an office environment. There is a speakerphone feature, but I found it to be more suited for checking voice mail than for actual conversations. It was okay, but not great, often dropping out when the caller and I spoke at the same time. The phone also comes with ear bud headphones that have a microphone attached for hands-free use.
Unfortunately, I didn’t get a chance to do a very thorough testing of battery life, so I’ll just describe how I used it and how far the battery got me. I don’t get a lot of phone calls during a day and they’re usually under 5 minutes. However, the phone was set up to sync with my Exchange server at work whenever something arrived. So, I managed to get a good bit of data usage in as well. I was able to go 2.5 to 3 days on a single charge. Heavy users are going to want to charge overnight as the unit will probably die at some point on day 2.
The camera is a typical one that you’ll find in a phone. Not amazing quality, but if you have a stationary subject and a decent amount of light, you may get a good image. The camera can capture 1.3 megapixel (1280×1024) images.
Sample Image [view fullsize]
Sample Movie (305KB) – plays fine in Quicktime
The HP iPAQ hw6515 Mobile Messenger isn’t pushing the boundaries of any technology, but it’s a solid device. It’s very easy to use, with the thumbstick for one-handed operation. It has good reception and a good size. Everything just seemed to work — I had no problems with any features of the phone. If you’re looking for a smartphone for use on Cingular’s network (if you don’t want to have the phone unlocked), but don’t need the latest and greatest, then take a look at this. Just know that HP’s next generation of this unit, the hw6715 will be out soon.
- Good battery life
- Nice size
- Easy one-handed operation
- Slow getting to market
- Only on Cingular network