The SmartPhone typhoon is on the way...

When our webmaster Chiang told me that the new HTC SmartPhone T-Mobile SDA has arrived, I couldn't wait any longer to get my hands on a test unit. At first glance, I found that the SDA does not suffer from two particular weaknesses of its elder sibling (the Orange SPV C500); namely the awkward 5-way navigation key and the wearing off of paint from the keypad. The SDA also has two buttons more than the C500; one is the desktop launcher button which loads a desktop interface, and the other is the task manager button that enables users to close or switch between programs more quickly and efficiently. In addition, the back cover feels really sleek, and this makes me want to own a unit right away!

The Glossy Black Appearance

First, let's see what the SDA looks like:

Figure: The reflective piano-black lacquer finish.

We can see that the main colors of the phone are silver and black. The sides are silver-coloured and slightly grooved, enabling users a better grip. It's rather evident that the design is similar to that of the Sony Ericsson T630, but I guess this design is really classical so it's no wonder that many manufacturers have rushed to adopt it. However the appearance of the SDA actually manages to give me a good impression, unlike some phones which make me feel that they are just second-rate imitations.

Figure: The classic combination of silver and black

The joystick is comfortable to use. Comparing with the C500, I have not encountered problems with any direction of its operation, and the keypad is comfortable to work with as well. So for those of you who are waiting to get a SmartPhone, don't hesitate anymore! However one point to mention is that the icon for the task switching button doesn't really give a clear representation of its function. If you use the phone in a dark room, you will see the white backlight on the keypad, which I think is beautiful.

Figure: SDA's beautiful white backlight

A Nice Joystick & Many Functional Buttons

The joystick is not too short or too stiff to operate. In other words, you don't need to press it hard when you want to run or select something. Though I don't know if one can play games like Metalion for Pocket PC using this joystick, I'm rather satisfied with its performance after playing JawBreaker and performing basic navigations with it. In fact, before trying out the SDA, I felt that C500's 5-way navigation key was ok, but with SDA's joystick to compare, it now does seem a little difficult to use. To sum up on the phone's appearance, the SDA is a nice looking model, with a lot of useful functional buttons.

Figure: The joystick of the SDA, much easier to use as compared to C500's navi key.

It has three keys on the ear location: two to control volume and one to take photos

Figure: The location of SDA's camera button is the same as that of the C500.

Figure: The two buttons are used to control volume...

The volume buttons for the SDA and C500 are really alike, but I think SDA's buttons are slightly more prominent and easier to locate. Ditto for the camera button.

Figure: SDA on the left side, and C500 on the right

Figure: The camera buttons

Jelly-like Keypad

This is the keypad of the SDA. The keys are rectangular-shaped and placed very close together, but you don't need to worry about pressing keys wrongly. The keypad has a "jelly-like" look which resembles the ones on Sony Ericsson T630 and Siemens SL55, with the keys being glossy and arched upward in the middle of each key. This keypad is however better compared to that of the SL55, which I had previously used. The keys of the SL55 were too hard and sometimes did not respond to pressing, and as a result I had some contacts in my phonebook having incomplete phone numbers. Thus SDA's keypad is pretty decent upon comparison.

Figure: The jelly-like keypad on the SDA.

The Trendier & Younger SDA

Let's now look at the SDA and C500 side by side. As far as appearance is concerned, the two phones represent two different age groups. One is more like a fashionable youngster, and the other a mature professional. Of course it's hard to satisfy everyone's preferences in terms of design, so it's a good thing that HTC has released two choices on the market.

Figure: A re-look at the keypad and navigation key of the C500

Continuing to put the two phones in comparison, you may notice that the color and design of SDA is more minimalistic, while C500 has a even mix of black and silver colours. In addition, the curves of SDA are more rounded and smoother than that of the C500.

Figure: Comparison of the phones in terms of color design

Figure: The SDA on top of the C500

Let's compare the back covers. Though the back cover of SDA collects fingerprints more easily, it's not really obvious with the black color finish and I must mention again that it really feels great.

Figure: Back view of the C500 and SDA. The locations of the camera module and battery cover are the same.

Figure: The USB port and earphone jack located at bottom of the phone

Figure: The batteries of the SDA and C500 are compatible with each other, you can actually interchange them.

Figure: You can find that the inner structures of both phones are identical upon removing the batteries and back covers.

The subtle differences in software: Desktop Interface and Task Manager

The SDA has two extra functions which are rather useful. One is the 9-icon graphic desktop interface which saves the hassle of flipping through pages to open programs. However the interface launch speed is a bit slow on the unit I am testing. The other function is the task manager, which makes it possible to close and switch among programs quickly.

Figures: 9-icon Desktop interface (left), and Task manager (right).

Final verdict: I love the uniformity in color and design of the SDA as well as its great-to-use joystick. No doubt using the C500 gives others an impression of being a successful professional, but the SDA can actually be a trendy and stylish alternative choice for a SmartPhone.

The translation is provided courtesy of cafe-cartel.