In terms of ease of use, these compact dimensions could have an impact, but surprisingly, i-Mate has done a decent job here as well. The keyboard is absolutely tiny and smaller than that on a BlackBerry 8800, for instance, and, if you’ve got big, builder’s thumbs, likely to be rather difficult to use. But I found that, once I’d got used to the size of the keys, typing short email messages and texts was surprisingly easy. The square keys have just enough space between them to prevent you accidentally striking neighbouring characters, and they have a positive click to them that means you know exactly when you’ve pressed or not pressed a key successfully. It can’t match the superb design of the BlackBerry 8800’s keyboard, but it’s not that far behind in its usability.
The button cluster above the keyboard and below the 320 x 240, 2.4in screen, is also reasonably well done. All the keys are well-labelled and are easy yet firm to click – just like the keys on the keyboard. The five-way d-pad is a touch fiddly, and again can’t match the 8800s scrolling ‘pearl’, but it’s by no means awful. I’ve used a lot worse than this.
Where the Jama 201 is not strong as I’d like, however, is on the features front. Most notable among the omissions is the lack of 3G or HSDPA internet; you’re stuck with GPRS with EDGE for browsing the internet and downloading email. It doesn’t sound like much, but try downloading attachments larger than a few Kb – a PDF file, for instance, and you’ll quickly become frustrated.
It’s just a tri-band phone too, with no support for the 850 GSM band so you can’t use the phone in the US if your business happens to take you there. And you don’t get the luxury extras you do with the flagship BlackBerry phones or other top-end handelds. There’s Bluetooth, but it’s not the faster version 2.0. There’s no GPS receiver, nor is there a Wi-Fi adaptor, and the paucity of advanced features extends to a bog-standard 2.0 megapixel digital camera, which is equipped with neither a flash nor a self-portrait mirror. It looks positively stone-age next to a TyTN II and even Samsung’s i600 which has been around some time now and boasts HSDPA where this has none.