The mobile phone industry is frenetic at the best of times, but right now it seems positively hyperactive. The focus is all-singing, all-dancing smartphones and over the past few months not only has HTC’s fantastic TyTN II (P4550/Kaiser) been unleashed, but the iPhone, Palm Treo 500V, BlackBerry Pearl 8120 have all also put in an appearance, not to mention the Ubiquio 503G and Asus’ P526.
And it’s not over yet – not by any stretch of the imagination. Over the next few months we expect to see some exciting products from i-Mate hit the shelves, new handsets from Samsung too and, who knows, perhaps even T-Mobile’s SideKick Slide will resolve its technical problems and finally make it out into the wild.
E-TEN has joined in the general smartphone bonanza with three high-spec smartphones, of which the X600 here is the third I’ve looked in recent weeks. And with so much going on, and so many new handsets about, it’s going to have its work cut out to make an impact.
Fortunately, first impressions are very good. The X600 has to be the sexiest PDA-style phone I’ve seen: it’s small and compact, even more so than the rather nice GPS-enabled ASUS P526, measuring just 14.7mm thick, 58mm wide, 107mm tall and weighing a rather svelte 136g. It certainly slips very comfortably into a jeans pocket. Although you’ll probably want to avoid that, by using the leather belt clip case so you can keep it protected from scratches and dings.
It looks very swanky too. For my money it’s the best looking Windows Mobile phone out there right now. The screen has a black, brushed aluminium surround, while most of the rest of the chassis is wrapped in a lovely, rubberised finish that makes the X600 a pleasure to pick up and hold – and a lot more secure in your hand than many other soap-bar style phones. The final touch is a band of metallic burgundy that stretches around the edge of the phone, setting off the chromed buttons beautifully. If telecommunications eye candy is your thing, this is the phone for you.
Of course, none of this would be any good to you if it wasn’t easy to use, and thankfully the X600 makes a better fist of things than its big brother, the M800, which was equipped with a fiendishly fiddly set of heat sensitive buttons and a tiny joystick control. Instead, the X600’s joystick stands proud of its surrounding buttons and is tipped with rubber, so your finger doesn’t slip on it or get too sore as you’re using it. The backlit control cluster beneath the screen consists of proper buttons too, so they can’t be activated by accident.