There is one vital thing missing, a wireless interface such as IrDA (although it seems to be implemented, but not functional as mentioned earlier) or Bluetooth. You might think that this is not so important with an all-in-one device such as this, but it is very handy for sending data across to other types of devices such as mobile phones or PDA’s. Also it means you can’t use a Bluetooth hands-free headset. And with a phone this big, that’s exactly what you’d want to use with it.
So what about the operating system and usage? Well, the operating system is based on the Symbian platform, similar to that of the Sony-Ericsson P800 phone. It’s using what Symbian refers to as OS 70 which is the platform developed for stylus based devices.
This is a very stable platform, although it is somewhat slow on the A920 but this is likely due to the supporting hardware rather than the software. The A920 is also very slow to boot into the OS once you’ve switched it on, taking between 20-30 seconds.
If you’ve used a stylus-based PDA before, you shouldn’t have any problems getting to grips with the A920. Even if you haven’t used a device like this, once you’ve got used to stylus input, it should become simple to operate. It is worth reading the manual, which is reasonably detailed, although some changes seem to have occurred in the software since the manual was printed.
The standard set of applications include a simple Notes application, a To Do list, a Calendar, a Calculator, a Contacts list, an email and SMS application, an Audio player, a Video player, a world clock, a Picture viewer and a Voice recorder. There is also a control panel and applications that allows you to sync the A920 with either the supplied desktop suite or over SyncML. There are no games supplied as standard and these have to be downloaded for a charge. The biggest problem here is that you’re charged for them every three days and it’s not cheap at 50p per game.
The applications are very similar to those found on PDAs so they are pretty simple to use for anyone who’s ever had a PDA. The Contacts list is very useful and can be synchronized with Outlook. You can dial numbers or send emails by taping on the corresponding field in the contacts list. There is also an option here to select between voice or video calls as well as SMS or MMS.
Using the A920 as a mobile phone feels clumsy and the on-screen keypad doesn’t help. Having to tap numbers on a screen just isn’t as intuitive as pressing a keypad. One good feature however is the call log which makes it very easy to go back and check the last 20 or so calls you’ve made.
You can select what network to use and change the phone over to 1900MHz if you happen to be in North America. There is also an option to switch the radio transmitter off, allowing you to use the A920’s PDA features while you’re on an plane.
Online content was one of the main selling points when 3G was launched and 3 provides plenty of content through its online service. This is accessed trough a special version of the Opera web browser. You can download news, football, movies clips, games and weather reports to mention a few. The only problem here in my opinion is that you can’t access non 3 content such as other web sites or even WAP content. You don’t always want to download a video to check the news, sometimes just accessing a news website is preferable. Hopefully this is something 3 will change as soon as some of its competitors launch 3G services.