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O2 likes to try and cover off pretty much every niche with its XDA line-up for smartphones and so it's added the XDA Guide into the range to temp those who want a phone that they can also use as a sat-nav either in the car or when they're out and about on foot.
It's no secret that O2 doesn't actually manufacture its own smartphones, but instead relies on outside companies such as HTC and Asus to build the actual hardware before it adds its own branding. The eagle-eyed among you may have spotted from the photos that the XDA Guide is really a rebranded version of the updated HTC Touch Cruise with O2's logo stamped above the row of buttons under the screen and the XDA insignia etched into the chassis to the top left of the display. However, this bundle is about more than the phone as the Guide is also sat-nav ready, but more about that later.
This handset may have been on the market for a while in its previous guise as the Touch Cruise, but it's still quite an attractive looking phone. The resistive touchscreen is mounted flush with the rest of the case giving it nice clean lines and the dark graphite rear and edges look suitably professional. Add in the chrome effect on the buttons below the screen and you've got yourself a sophisticated and stylish looking phone.
One of the key innovations on the Guide is the mechanical scroll wheel that's integrated into the circular D-pad that sits beneath the screen. This is used to move through lists of entries in menus and also for zooming in and out on photos, maps or webpages. It works a treat, especially in the web browser, and is probably the next best thing to the iPhone's multi-touch pinch to zoom feature.
The Guide uses a 528MHz Qualcomm MSM 7225 processor in conjunction with the 256MB of RAM and although it's not the fastest smartphone around it's not exactly slow either and we certainly experienced no performance issues even with multiple apps running in the background. The phone has 512MB or ROM for storing applications and files, but O2 also includes a 1GB microSD card (the card slot is under the battery cover) to further beef up the storage space available, which is useful as the CoPilot Live 7 navigation software and related maps obviously take up quite a bit of room. Naturally the handset has Wi-Fi and Bluetooth support, plus you also get HSDPA for browsing on the move via the nifty, preloaded Opera web browser.
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