We recently had the chance to take Asus’ latest phone, P835 for a ride. Asus has for long tried hard to match HTC’s excellent combination of an intuitive UI and hardware specs but does P835 help to deliver?
The retail package comes with all the accessories that includes a charger, USB data cable, earphones, leather finish cover in addition to the handset, warranty card, manual and a CD.
Here’s a quick look to the official specs:
Networks: HSPA (DL: 7.2Mbps, UL: 2Mbps), UMTS 900/1900/2100, EDGE/GPRS/GSM 850/900/1800/1900, Class 12
Operating System: Windows Mobile 6.1 Professional
Form factor: Bar type
Dimensions: 115mm x 59mm x 13.8mm
Weight: 148g (with battery)
Standby Time: 350hrs with 3G and 300hrs with 2G
Talk Time: 6hrs with 3G and 7hrs with 2G
Display: 3.5” TFT, 65K-color Touchscreen, WVGA (800 x 480 pixels)
Processor: Qualcomm 7201A 528MHz
Memory: 4GB Internal Storage + 288MB SDRAM + 256MB ROM
Expansion Slot: MicroSD with SDHC support
Connectivity: WLAN 802.11b+g , USB v2.0, Bluetooth 2.0+EDR
WAP Browser: HTTP / WAP 1.2.1/2.0
Messaging: SMS / MMS / Email / MSN / Push Email
Battery: 1100mAh Lithium
GPS: Yes (AGPS supported)
Camera: 5 Megapixel Auto Focus
Video Record: MPEG4/H.263
Video Call, Audio/Video Streaming
Picture Format: JPEG, PNG, GIF, BMP
Audio Format: MP3, WMA, WAV, AMR, AAC and AAC+
JAVA J2ME (CLDC 1.1 + MIDP2.0)
Business Applications: PIM, Word (editor), Excel (editor), PowerPoint (viewer), Adobe Reader, Windows Live, MSN, Voice Commander and Push Email (Exchange Server).
Other Features: Opera browser, Wi-Fi Access Point, YouTube, Flickr, ASUS Virtual Keyboard, Anytime Launcher, ASUS Today, EziMusic, EziPhoto, Google search and RSS Reader.
Off all the Asus phones I have seen, I think this is the classiest one to come out of their stable. It has been made keeping its target market in mind – the business users. The first thing that comes to the mind is its weight. It weighs a hefty 148 grams which is justified with the use of metals used in the construction of the phone.
The front face is covered by a huge display that measures a good 3.5-inches diagonally and supports WVGA (800×480) resolution. Moving down further, there are four touch-sensitive buttons that works as a Quick Launcher, Start button, OK and Internet key that starts the pre-installed Opera browser. As you can see, there’s also a faux leather finish at the bottom with call/end buttons and a trackball supporting click.
The left side of the phone consists of the volume and unlock keys; right side with a dedicated camera key and microSD card slot and the back houses the loudspeaker and 5MP camera.
Asus P835 integrates a Qualcomm 7201A processor clocking at 528MHz with 288MB RAM. Even though the processor and decent amount of RAM manages to pull light and single tasks effectively, the problem starts when more than couple of apps are running in the background. We really don’t know but if Asus had gone with P565’s 800MHz CPU, it could be a different ball game altogether.
Custom UIs on Windows Mobile phones is a common fad and needless to say, Asus has their own – in the form of Glide UI. Asus has worked hard to improve the experience but unfortunately, the user interface falls short when you compare it with competitor’s UI. You can do a few things right from the homescreen but there will be number of times where you’ll have to wade through not-so-finger-friendly icons of Windows Mobile. The UI can also be changed into different modes like “Work” or “Life” but these only add to the visual appeal not the functions.
Another reason is that Asus has confused the UI with its own app. Asus Anytime Launcher (can be launched via Quick Start button) has a different interface and maybe Asus should have tried to give some uniformity to it. To add insult to the injury, Anytime Launcher gives more options than you can find on Asus Today screen.
The call interface has also been revamped and made more touch-friendly. Regarding the call quality, I had no issues with it and it was near perfect, to say the least. However, prolonged duration of calls tend to make the battery hot.
P835 is equipped with a 5MP camera and can be activated via the dedicated camera key. The camera adjusts well to the subject’s distance, thanks to autofocus but the quality is not what you expect. You’ll need enough light to take a perfect picture or expect some disappointment. Some pictures even showed hints of graininess but that was passable.
Being a business device, there’s not much to expect on the multimedia side. The music duties are handled by EziMusic that gives you a soothing interface but misses one of the important features – the EQ settings. Music on the device and without the EQ doesn’t sound that bad but volume could be an issue for many. The loudspeakers are audible only if you’re in small quiet room and the included earphones are not loud enough even with the included volume regulator. Attaching your earphones might need you a converter because it supports only mini USB jack.
A unique feature of the phone we can say is its capability to act as a Wi-Fi Access Point (AP). For the uninitiated, the application uses your cellular data connection to be shared with other Wi-Fi compatible devices. Good thing is that the app works as intended albeit at the expense of your battery life. The application creates an ad-hoc connection but be aware that it will suck the battery at a great speed.
The P835 has a big battery (literally) rated at 1100mAh. And with around 3 hours of calling, 2 hours of surfing on Wi-Fi, 1 hour of music, the battery lasted for around 1, 1 and a half days to me. If you cut some things short, you could easily achieve it past 2 days but if you use the Wi-Fi AP app, be ready to recharge in a few hours.
P835 is a very good attempt by Asus and brings in features like Wi-Fi AP, 4GB internal memory, GPS and more. But when you try to analyze the bang for your buck, something doesn’t feel right. For the asking price of around Rs. 32,000, there are other phones in the market that could give you the same, if not better features at a lesser investment. Maybe Asus could find more takers if the price is reduced to around the 20-25K range and even offer a free upgrade to Windows Mobile 6.5.