Intro and External Features
i-mate might not be the most prolific of the Windows Mobile device brands out there, but the company has been around since 2001 and is based in Dubai. In the early days i-mate used to re-brand HTC devices, but that stopped a few years ago and i-mate started designing its own devices. Although the company has had some fairly affordable, albeit basic Windows Mobile devices in the past, it announced its Ultimate range over a year ago. This has finally come to fruition and today we're taking a closer look at the Ultimate 8150.
The first impression of the Ultimate 8150 is that it's a rather large Windows Mobile 6 Standard handset, with an unusually big screen and keypad. However, the matter of fact is that it's using Windows Mobile 6 Professional which means that it has a touch screen among other features. The screen measures 2.6-inches which is somewhat smaller than most other devices we've seen of this type, but it still manages to have a 480x640 resolution. Part of the reason for the small screen is the keypad located just below the screen, but the bezel around the screen is also quite thick.
The handset measures 118.5x60.5x15.5mm (HxWxD) which makes it quite chunky, especially compared to the recently reviewed E-Ten Glofiish devices we've looked at. It weighs in at 152g with the battery which really isn't much worse than most Windows Mobile devices. At least there's something of a reason behind the chunkiness of the Ultimate 8150, as it's crammed full of features, some of which are very unusual for a Windows Mobile device. But let's cover the build quality quickly first before we go into more detail about the features.
The Ultimate 8150 feels very sturdy and solid when you hold it and its weight has most likely something to do with this, but it also seems to be made from very solid plastic with some metal inlays. One problem we did notice with our review sample was that the battery cover, which is made from a sheet of metal, seemed to be slightly bent in one corner and didn't fit quite flush, but having a metal cover does at least mean that you can carefully bend it back in shape. Otherwise, we don't have any issues with the general build quality of the device.
Looking at what's on offer from the angle of buttons and ports, the front of the Ultimate 8150 consists of the aforementioned display and keypad, as well as a front mounted camera for video calls. The keypad is a mixed bag of nuts; no, we're not taking the piss here, it really is an odd contraption as the keys are different sizes for some unknown reason and this makes it quite odd to use, especially the 1 and 3 keys.
There's a small joystick tucked in here as well, and it's actually quite nice to use. However, the windows key is too small and in an awkward position, and what we thought was the ok/back button doesn't always seem to have any functionality at all. The two soft keys are also funny to use, as they're made up from one slim, but long, single bar. We've seen plenty of better keypads, but it's not the worst one we've used either.
On the left hand side is a jog dial which can be depressed to make selections, an OK button, a micro SD memory card slot (although it doesn't take SDHC cards), a hardware key to the wireless manager and a tiny hole which hides the soft reset button. The jog wheel is slightly too hard to get to, as it only has a tiny part that sticks out and the OK button doesn't double up as the Windows Start key when on the home screen as per HTC devices, which is a real shame. The stylus is also located here at the top, just behind the jog dial.
Moving onto the right hand side we find three rubber grommets; the top ones hide an external WiFi antennae connector, below this is a mini USB 1.1 port and after this is a rather large rubber grommet which hides the video out port. Below this is the camera shutter button, which is dual stage as the camera features auto focus, but this makes it stick out quite far from the handset body. The third and final grommet hides a connector to be used with an external GSM/UMTS antenna in areas with very bad reception.
At the top of the handset is the power button as well as an IrDA receiver, although this is a dying standard, but it can still be useful for quickly exchanging business cards with other IrDA enabled devices. Finally around the back is the 2Megapixel camera, a small LED instead of a flash and a terrible self portrait mirror.