XGA output is certainly an interesting, potentially useful feature, and there aren’t any other smartphones I can think of that can offer such functionality. But unfortunately the 8150 can’t back this innovation up elsewhere. To start with, it’s a pretty chunky phone, even by Windows Mobile standards. The screen isn’t that big at 2.6in, but with a half centimetre surround, the phone is larger than it needs to be. It’s equipped with a standard, mechanical numeric keypad below it, but it’s absolutely huge – again, bigger than necessary – with super-wide number keys stretching across the full width of the phone’s chassis.
The styling won’t be to everyone’s tastes – it looks more like a military accessory than a modern consumer techno fashion accessory, with its matt-black plastic stealth finish, blue LEDs and bombproof build quality – and a real ugly duckling when compared with the Glofiish phones I reviewed recently.
And the usability doesn’t impress that much either. I’d like to say that those massive buttons on the numeric keypad made the phone easier to use than those on a standard-sized handset, but I can’t. They’re stiff, not particularly responsive to press and trying to use them to tap out short text messages and email is a nightmare because you can’t seem to hit two in quick succession and get the 8150 to reliably recognise both key presses. The way the numbers are printed on the keys doesn’t help here – the left column of buttons has the numerals printed right next to the boundary with the central column and in dark conditions this makes it all too easy to press the wrong key.
That said, there are some saving graces, and you can’t deny that the Ultimate 8150 lives up to its name. It packs in plenty of power, for instance, with an XScale PXA 270 520MHz processor inside and a good helping of RAM (128MB) and ROM (256MB). Data connections are fast too, with HSDPA, 3G and GPRS with EDGE to ensure lightning quick downloads and browsing. Plus you get an FM tuner, Wi-Fi, a two megapixel camera with light and portrait mirror, plus a front-facing VGA camera. The only thing missing is a GPS receiver.