Asus M530W Smartphone - Asus M530W

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It all adds up to a phone that’s solid and sensible-feeling. And that sense is backed up by a seriously impressive set of vital statistics. Again it may lack the headline-grabbing GPS receiver of the G710, but where the Toshiba handset was woefully lacking in the welly department, the M530W is able to well and truly put the boot in. Running affairs is a potent 416MHz PXA270 processor from Marvell. It’s not the fastest processor I’ve ever seen in a smartphone, but it’s all the M530W needs, and is fast enough that you’re never left waiting too long for an application to load.

Couple that power with a decent web browser (such as Opera Mini), and browsing the Internet feels as natural as it was frustrating on the G710, despite the phone only supporting the non-HSDPA 3G standard. Elsewhere, tri-band GSM, 802.11b/g Wi-Fi, a reasonable allocation of 256MB storage and Bluetooth 2.0 top off the sensible, if not ground-breaking specification. Even the meagre 64MB of RAM, which is normally enough to have you reaching for the task manager every couple of hours, doesn’t seem to have too much of a negative impact on performance.


Call quality is clear as a bell, with volume levels plenty loud enough, and even the two megapixel camera is better than average. Though it’s never going to replace a proper digital camera, it does do a reasonable job of taking simple snaps in decent light. Low light performance is especially impressive, it has a flash to help out when conditions get the better of it, and a front-facing video call VGA camera has been thrown in for good measure.


But there are two key weaknesses here. The first is a minor gripe: as with the M930 before it, the M530w is not equipped with Office Mobile – it only has readers for Excel, PowerPoint, Word and PDF files pre-installed. It’s a strange omission, but adding the excellent Dataviz Documents To Go, which is better than Office Mobile anyway, will only set you back a few quid extra (£15), should you feel the need to edit and create documents.


More seriously, the battery life is a big disappointment. Asus has accompanied that powerful processor with a weedy 1,200mAh lithium-ion unit that is unlikely to get you through a weekend without needing a charge, even with relatively light use. Despite the 4-5 hour talk-time and 250 hour standby rating, I found the phone ran out short of the two-day par that most Windows Mobile smartphones seem to adhere to. That, unfortunately, just isn’t good enough and it undermines all the good work done so far.


”’Verdict”’


The relatively short battery-life is a shame because otherwise the M530w is a good, solid, business email smartphone. It may not be the sexiest on the planet, and it may not have headline grabbing features such as GPS, but neither does it have any serious shortcomings – it’s easy to use and its core specification is able to run the demanding Windows Mobile OS without breaking sweat.


It’s very cheap, too, at a mere £199 including the VAT unlocked. But the high powered processor takes its toll on the battery and that means the M530w is far from the perfect alternative to the BlackBerry 8820. Alas, even the price can’t sweeten that bitter pill.

Score


Score in detail

  • Performance 6
  • Value 8
  • Features 7
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