Wednesday, July 01, 2009

My SmartPhone : Qtek A8300: My Tryst With A Tornado

Hi fellas,

I think this post was long overdue! To make up for that, I am putting up a long post!! ;P

Well, the news(?) is that I got a new smartphone in February replacing my old Nokia 3310/ Nokia 2100/ Sony Ericsson T105/ Samsung C145 Guru set of mobiles. My sister bought it on my behalf during her brief stay in the US of A. It reduced the burden in my pocket by about 100$. Well, I did spend quite a lot on gadgets, including this mobile, through her. I got a Tb drive and a couple of 2 GB DDR3 RAM for my future rig. Six months later, I still don't regret it as I had saved all the money for that itself. That and some more!! :D Do I need all that? I think yes! Did I want all that? Hell yeah!! :D Being an amateur shutterbug and a music buff, I needed all the space I could gather. And with the amount of browsing and multitasking I do and intend to do further, I need a good amount of fast RAM.

Well, the device in the question is Qtek A8300 aka Cingular 2125 aka Orange SPV C600 ( among a host of other names ). As they say in Samskrutha, many names but same device. Most notably, it is a variant of HTC Tornado called Faraday, which is exactly same as Tornado but lacking a WiFi chip and instead sporting an extra hump at the top, which actually houses a large antenna.Qtek is actually a European subsidiary of the popular Taiwanese company HTC. It has a TI OMAP 850 processor clocking at 195 Mhz ( but safely overclockable to 252 Mhz with optimum stability ), 64 Mb shared storage for RAM and ROM ( which I deem is just barely enough ), Bluetooth 1.2 chip( no A2DP or other profiles by default ), a 1.3 mp lens without flash but with a mirror ( which is not that good ), bundled earphones ( superb ones!! Absolutely mind-blowing quality ), light sensor ( slick!! Switches the keyboard backlight on or off based on ambient light levels! Works like a charm!! ), mini USB port ( a god send!! ), Quadband support, EDGE capability, infrared port and most importantly Windows Mobile 5.0 SmartPhone edition.

Qtek A8300

Well, this was how my phone's homescreen ( standby screen ) looked like until about a week since I got it:

Then I installed a Windows Mobile 6.1 Professional ( i.e OS for Touchscreen phones ) ROM from XDA Devs. It then looked like this:

It was blazingly fast and gorgeously beautiful when compared to WinMo 5.0 SmartPhone edition.It had smaller DPI and therefore, smaller fonts which made reading SMSes and browsing easier and faster for me.

I then installed the WinMo 6.1 Standard edition which was slower than the Pro edition. I just gave it a try before I got tired of it and eventually switched back to Pro. This is a WinMo 6.1 Standard homescreen:

Then came the Windows Phone 6.5 Professional, which I am currently using. It is an absolute beauty. Some screenshots to show that:

I tried using the Standard edition of the 6.5 version again and I liked it too but there was not much of a difference between 6.5 and 6.1 standard versions. So eventually I dumped it and returned to the Touchscreen version. Well, that is the Linkin Park logo you see there ( I just love LP!!! ) :D

The interface is mostly controlled by joystick in the Pro version instead of the keypad shortcuts as in the Standard version, the reason of which is quite obvious as the OS itself is for the touchscreen devices, most of which sport only the direction buttons and stylus for navigation. You get a virtual cursor which can be used like a stylus point for touchscreen functions like tapping and sliding. It is controlled by the joystick, though you get programs like 9way keypad which enable you to make use of the keypad for the same purpose. The cursor is only needed for rare tasks, so it's not much of a hassle.

The interface confused a lot of my friends and they gave up after a few minutes! But once you get the hang of it, you start thinking why other OSes don't have it. Some of the tasks are made so easy that you find it cumbersome to use other mobiles. Eg., the SMS applications in 6.1 and 6.5 versions have a threaded mode, which enables you to view all the messages exchanged with a single contact to appear in a single window, IM style. It is like chatting with somebody using an IM client like GTalk. All the messages are grouped like that and that makes the inbox tidier. Another neat feature is the way in which you can search for contacts: if you want to call anyone, all you need to do is press the digits which contain the letters of the name, i.e if you want to call me, all you have to do is just press 725284 ( Rajath ). It will show a list of names which can be typed like that. Now I even stream music to my PC through bluetooth and can play music through my speakers connected to the PC as I got A2DP and other BT profiles. I can even browse through my friends' mobiles through BT Explorer.

There are tens of thousands of useful apps for WinMo. Most of the older apps run flawlessly on the 6.5 version, so there are no major backward compatibility problems. I'll list a few of my favourites later.

There are a few irksome issues too. The bluetooth is slow and weak compared to the phones available nowadays. Java apps run through an emulator and are buggy at times. You have to keep cleaning the memory and close the apps which you don't use frequently or the phone will slow down. Those who don't do this usually end up rebooting it at least once in a day. The memory card has to be accessed by removing the battery, which is actually beneficial for me as it prevents easy theft/ accidental removal ( I know many such cases of memory loss ;) ).

Some of the other better things are the build quality, the call quality and the battery life. My phone survived sinking in the hot lemon sherbeth during my sister's marriage. The reception is great indoors and even in elevators. The phone manages to sail through a couple of days under my heavy usage but it does depend on the ROM I run. Did I say the earphones rock?? :D And using the SRS WOW HD audio driver, I can even amplify the sound and tune it to my liking. The apps available for this platform are terrific, I must say. And due to the hardware keyboard present, I can message even in the college too. ;P

Enough for now, I guess! Later then!! :D

What do you think? Feel free to comment or ask questions below!