Asus has enjoyed a good brand name when it came to motherboards, netbooks and other computer products. But ask about mobile phones, well, they’re completely out of the competition. They too realized it, which is why they tied up with Garmin, renowned maker of GPS device and services. Now Garmin-Asus have few number of devices in the market, out of which is also the Windows Mobile-powered M10 we tried out recently.
The M10 package includes the handset, AC adapter, USB data cable, earphones, leather cover and warranty card.
Garmin-Asus have paid special attention to M10’s design. M10 has a superior build quality and though the back is taken by the shiny plastic making it highly prone to fingerprints, the phone gives a good feeling when held in hand. The front is taken by the 3.5-inch WVGA display with three touch-sensitive buttons for menu, call and end.
As I said, it has a 3.5-inch WVGA (800×480) touchscreen display. Unlike the recent trend amongst smartphones, M10 sports a resistive touchscreen instead of the capacitive one. Although Asus has revamped the UI to make it finger-friendly, they’ve also included a stylus to give users complete accuracy.
Almost every phone today has a customized user interface that suits its manufacturers taste. M10 is also gets a UI customization but the level of customization is not deep. The phone runs on Windows Mobile 6.5.3 and has icon-based home screen, pretty much to what we’re used to see on the iPhone. You can store up to 45 apps on the home screen, spanning it into 5 pages. However, other than that, the phone makes use of the Windows Mobile UI.
The phone also features an onscreen QWERTY keyboard. Now typing on a resistive touchscreen may want you to pop out the stylus but in this case, the touch sensitivity was pretty good. The keys were a bit narrow but once you get used to it, everything is a breeze.
Garmin-Asus phones’ USP is location-based services and M10 delivers on that promise. In our test, M10 gave the fastest GPS fix we’ve got in a phone. We’re not sure what the secret sauce is but M10 got a GPS lock within a few seconds, which is obviously good since you don’t want to wait at one position for 2-5 minutes just to calibrate with the GPS satellites. The maps come pre-loaded with the device but you can also use Google Maps if you want.
The phone also has other nifty location features like giving you the next intersection along with other important details like flight status, Ciao location-based social networking service etc.
However, we think despite a rock solid GPS system, Garmin-Asus misses out by not bundling a car kit along with the phone. It is done to keep the phone’s purchase cost down but since most of us use GPS while driving, using M10’s GPS is somewhat useless unless you shell out extra for the accessory.
Garmin-Asus M10 features a 5MP camera and has a dedicated camera button on the side that can be activated by pressing the camera button or can be accessed from the menu. The photos shot in daylight are pretty decent, supports geo-tagging but there are couple of issues with the camera. First is that it does not have any flash to assist you in low light photography sessions and secondly, it does not have autofocus.
M10 supports widely played multimedia formats. It does not give topnotch multimedia playback but it does its job well. The music quality is good and the loudspeakers are well, really loud. As far as videos go, the phone is able to play DivX files out-of-the-box, which is a huge plus.
Now if we talk about phone’s overall performance, the M10 features Qualcomm’s 7227 600MHz CPU along with 512MB RAM. Garmin-Asus’ decision to integrate a large chunk of RAM could be to allow smooth functioning of the maps. However, the phone did sometimes show signs of lag during normal operations.
Few other things you’ll find in the phone are 4GB internal memory along with a microSD card slot to expand memory, a Wi-Fi hotspot application that makes your phone act as a router to other Wi-Fi enabled devices and a 3D task switcher.
M10 has a 1500mAh battery that gave about 1-1.5 days of battery life on a moderate usage including internet surfing over Wi-Fi, 1-2 hours of calling and about 2 hours of music.
M10 is not the perfect smartphone and it comes with its share of flaws. But if you’re looking for a very potent GPS device (and don’t mind shelling out extra for the car accessory) that can also call, M10 won’t disappoint you.
It goes for around Rs. 18,000.
Pros: Build Quality, GPS
Cons: Sometimes lags, No bundled car kit