The Qtek 8500 is the first Windows Mobile 5.0 Smartphone to be available in a flip format. There have been one or two other attempts at flip phones with earlier incarnations of the Windows Mobile platform but the format is very far from being the norm.
You may see this handset referred to as the HTC STRTrk (any resemblance to a cult sci-fi TV and movie series is probably not entirely coincidental). To clear up any confusion on that, until the day this review was posted, manufacturer HTC used the Qtek brand to sell its handsets. This has now changed, and Qtek is no more.
The handset has clearly been designed with at least half an eye on luring fans of Motorola’s RAZR V3. The first, most immediate sign of this is the capitalised vowel free name HTC has given it. The second is that Qtek 8500 is available with a significant portion of the front and back fascia in a shade of pink close to that which adorns a version of the RAZR V3.
Those of a nervous disposition can opt for pure black, but will still get a handset that sports a flat number pad and a deliberately thin design. I’ll come to the number pad later. For the record the dimensions – 98 x 51 x 16mm and 99g match up to the RAZR V3’s 98 x 53 x 14mm and 95g pretty well.
However the design doesn’t quite match up to the stylishness of the RAZR. The RAZR in all the variations I’ve seen, feels like something substantial, solid and desirable in the hand, while the Qtek 8500 lacks panache.
The comparison is only really valid if you have both handsets side by side, but even on its own the Qtek 8500 doesn’t feel the solid, polished mobile you might expect a Windows Mobile Smartphone to be.
Like any flip phone worth its salt the Qtek 8500 has an outer display. Its enormous porthole surround makes you think at first that the display is going to be large, and indeed it is a reasonable size at 1.2in diagonal and 128 x 128 pixels. You can configure a number of settings, for example toggling the date and time and SIM status information, choosing between a number of clock formats, and opting for a wallpaper background.
When a call comes in the caller number is displayed, and if the caller is in the Contacts database their name – and photo if you’ve saved one – are also shown. You lift the flip to answer the call.