UBiQUiO 503G Windows Mobile 6 Smartphone

Lars looks at UBiQUiO's 503G smart phone which packs plenty of features including 96MB RAM, WM6, HSDPA 3.5G and more!
| Aug 21, 2007 at 11:00 pm CDT
Rating: 90%Manufacturer: UBiQUiO

Intro and Specifications

Introduction and SpecificationsUBiQUiO might not be a company that you're familiar with, and in all honesty neither were we until recently. However, UBiQUiO is a part of online retailer Expansys, or rather a subsidiary I should say. The UBiQUiO brand has been around for almost seven years now, although the venture into Windows Mobile devices and hardware in general is much more recent. Besides the 503G which we'll be looking at today, UBiQUiO offers a couple of older Windows Mobile devices, but it's also a serious player in the UMPC (Ultra Mobile PC) market and has a Skype phone and Bluetooth keyboard on offer as well.
It might not seem like a lot of products, but considering that UBiQUiO has only been doing hardware for about a year, it's still a pretty good repertoire. The designs are in many cases their own, or at least exclusive to UBiQUiO. As with so many other companies out there today, it's easy to buy a finished design and customise the software as long as it meets your quality standards. There's no shortage of mobile phone manufacturers, although many of them don't sell their products directly to end users. But enough about the company, let's take a closer look at the device itself. The 503G is using one of the less well used form factors when it comes to Windows Mobile devices, as it's got a fairly small 2.4-inch horizontal LCD touch screen with a resolution of 240x320. Below the screen is a full backlit QWERTY keyboard, and between that and the screen is a set of navigation keys, but we'll get back to those in a little bit.
The hardware is rather impressive with a 520MHz Marvell XScale PXA 270 CPU which has been combined with a Qualcomm 6280 3G/HSDPA chip. Further to this, UBiQUiO has added 96MB of RAM and 192MB of ROM, although most of the ROM is already taken up by Windows Mobile 6 Professional and the pre-installed applications. Oddly enough, a lot of the RAM memory seems to be used up by default, especially compared to devices with only 64MB of RAM. The same goes for the ROM, but this will apparently be fixed in an upcoming update from UBiQUiO, so be sure to check out their website for this.

Specifications - Continued

Specifications ContinuedAs mentioned on the previous page, the 503G supports HSDPA, although it's limited to 3.6Mbps. This shouldn't be too much of an issue, since most networks only support 1.8 or 3.6Mbps currently, but we should see more and more 7.2Mbps networks appear. It's a shame the 503G doesn't support this faster standard, but we're not going to deduct points because of it. It's also a quad band GSM/GPRS/EDGE handset and it works on WCDMA (3G) networks operating at 850, 1900 and 2100 MHz which covers most locations in the world.
If you happen to be outside of 3G coverage and need a fast internet connection you'll be happy to know that the 503G supports 802.11b/g Wi-Fi as well, and it's pretty straight forward to get it up and running as with most other Windows Mobile devices. UBiQUiO has also fitted Bluetooth to the 503G, however it's only the older 1.2 standard, but at least it supports A2DP profiles and stereo sound. It's just a shame that it doesn't have Bluetooth 2.0 with EDR, as that would've made it easier to use the 503G as a HSDPA modem. You can read Cameron's piece about HSDPA on this handset here. It does however work really well with a USB cable, and the 503G has built-in internet connection sharing too.
The 503G has a 2 Megapixel camera without flash, as well as a front mounted camera for video calls. We'll go more in-depth about the camera a little later on. For memory expansion the 503G has a microSD card slot and we tested it with a 2GB Transcend card without any problems. The memory card slot is accessible externally and it has a small but sturdy rubber flap to cover it.
The battery is rated at 1,500mAh which we have to say is pretty good as most devices of this type have between 1,200 and 1,350mAh batteries. According to UBiQUiO this should give you around 4h talk time or some 250h standby time. It's hard to judge a Windows Mobile device on battery life, as you'd use it for more things than just making phone calls, but the 503G seemed to last 2-3 days on a full charge, which is fairly normal.
Size wise the 503G measures 123 x 65 x 17mm (HxWxD) which makes it quite nice and slim, but it's a little bit wide if you have small hands. At 159g it's not too heavy and you could even carry it in a shirt pocket if must be. It might not be as small or as thin as the HTC S620, but it packs a much bigger punch in terms of features and hardware, so it's a trade off we can live with quite happily.

Usage and Software

Usage and SoftwareIn terms of general usage, the screen feels a bit odd, at least if you're used to PDA style devices with a vertically mounted display. It feels a bit cramped, and at only 2.4-inches it's not as easy to read as bigger 2.8 or 3-inch displays. Still, it's very crisp and clear and besides its size we can't really fault it. On the other hand, UBiQUiO supplies an excellent stylus. It's long, but not too slim and fits nicely in the hand. It's a pleasure to see a full size stylus in favour of the retractable ones that seems to be popular with other Windows Mobile manufacturers.
Another feature we really like is the side mounted scroll wheel, as it makes one handed navigation so much easier, at least if you hold the phone in your left hand. The only downside here is that the 503G doesn't allow you to press the button below to open the Windows start menu. This can be set manually as the button is programmable, but by default it doubles up as the OK button. The HTC TyTN allows you to open the Windows start menu from the today screen and after that the button below the scroll wheel functions as the OK button.
Further down on the left hand side is also the camera button, this launches the camera application and doubles up as the shutter release. The camera itself is anything but impressive, although this is generally the case with most cameras built into smartphones. However, one unforgivable problem is the fact that the camera software doesn't save the settings once you exit the application. The default settings are set so that the pictures are saved to the internal memory at 320 x 240 and medium quality, this is really poor when the camera can do 1,600 x 1,200 and has better quality settings. It gets very annoying to set the settings back to what you want every time you use the camera as you have to select most of them from a drop down menu.
The layout of the control keys are generally pretty good and we don't have any complaints here. Moving onto the keyboard we enter upon a touchy subject. Personally, I'm not too keen on the small keys, but I've gotten used to the larger pull-out keyboard of the HTC TyTN. The keyboard is by no means unusable, as the raised keys are quite easy to hit, but certain keys like the spacebar is a bit on the small side. Another issue is that the full stop doesn't have a dedicated key, as UBiQUiO saw fit to add a dropdown menu button on the keyboard. I'd rather send a dedicated full stop button, and the way things are now you have to press two buttons to get a full stop.
On the software side there isn't all that much out of the ordinary, although UBiQUiO has pre-installed a copy of Google Maps, but you're limited to GSM assisted routing as the 503G doesn't have built-in GPS. You can however pair it up with an external Bluetooth GPS unit and the generic Windows Mobile drivers are there to support this. UBiQUiO has also pre-installed a VoIP application and a Java runtime. There's nothing really special on the CD either, you only get a 60-day trial of Outlook 2007 which seems a bit stingy, as older Windows Mobile devices used to come with a full version.

Final Thoughts

Final ThoughtsWhat we haven't mentioned as yet is the box content, which is actually rather good as you get a multi Voltage charger with adapters for Europe, the UK and the US. Of course it'll work in other countries that use the same type of power plugs as well. It also comes with a USB cradle which has two rear USB ports, one for the charger and one for the sync cable. The 503G can still charge over USB, but this way it doesn't tax the power of your USB ports on your PC.You also get a headset, but this is quite awful. Luckily the 503G uses a standard 2.5mm headset jack, so it should be easy to find a replacement headset.
So, how to sum it all up? Well, the UBiQUiO 503G is an interesting device which is something of a jack of all trades, but manages quite well to do it all. It comes with a great bundle of bits apart from the headset, although the software bundle isn't anything to write home about. It's got a few minor issues which is something that will hopefully be corrected via a software update, this should be available shortly.The hardware is very good and overall the 503G is very nippy and felt faster in use than the HTC TyTN, although it should with more memory and a faster CPU. Its small screen and keyboard might not appeal to everyone, but it makes for a slimmer device than those with a pull-out keyboard. There is very little lacking, but there's always the next model to look forward to. Overall, UBiQUiO has done a good job with the 503G.
In terms of availability, don't expect to walk down to your local phone shop and pick one up, as you'll most likely have to order one online. However, it's being sold by Expansys and they have online shops in most of Europe, the US and several Asian countries as well as Australia and New Zealand, so availability shouldn't be a huge issue. Price wise, you'll find that the 503G costs differently in various countries, but Expansys Taiwan lists it for $679.99 USD with it being $899.95 AUD in Australia. You can buy it in most countries from Expansys.
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Last updated: Apr 7, 2020 at 12:26 pm CDT

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