O2 Asia and i-mate are definitely the two resellers which seems to be the best customers of HTC since they carry most of the HTC Windows Mobile models. While carriers are pretty restrictive and focused in their product portfolio, O2 Asia and i-mate are pure resellers (even if both also sell to carriers) and therefore they need a wider product portfolio.
The latest announcement came from O2 Asia who will carry the HTC Amadeus - also known as T-Mobile SDA Music - soon. While it isn't publicly announced on O2 Asia's PR page yet, CNETAsia revealed it already and since today it also appears on O2's product page.
O2 has definitely made the right choice by moving into the smart phone category, judging from the achievements of the Xphone II. Now, with more users hungry for increasingly powerful mobile phones, can this latest offering do better than its predecessor?
Upside: At first glance, the mobile projects a fresh look in terms of aesthetics with its white-ish exterior. With clear keypads similar to the Sony Ericsson K500i, the handset radiates style. What's different about the Xphone IIm is that it includes four new buttons that allow quick access to Internet Explorer as well as music playback with Windows Media Player 10. There's also the usual camera capture button, allowing for quick casual shots.
Downside: Upon closer inspection, spaces surrounding its joystick could potentially lead to lint being stuck in the grooves. We were also disappointed that the new mobile still retains a VGA camera, hardly comparable with the megapixel camera-phones out in the market. While we were excited about the new media features, there hasn't been any improvement to the amount of built-in memory. In fact, a general run-through of the specs reveals nothing novel as the Xphone IIm still operates on Windows Mobile 2003 for Smartphone Second Edition. While an official from the company has confirmed hardware support for Windows Mobile 5.0, there has been no official announcement that a software upgrade will be made available. MP3 ringtones are again not supported and the new handset still uses a 2.5mm head jack, which means standard earphones can't be deployed here.
Outlook: In a nutshell, it's new looks but same old features. Other than the inclusion of convenient quick access buttons, the upcoming O2 phone seems to be simply trying to keep up with the MP3-phone market. We'll have the full review for you soon.
O2 Asia has announced that the O2 Xphone IIm will be available in Singapore stores from May 27, 2005. The recommended retail is S$798 (US$486.59) w/o a subscription.
Cheers ~ Arne