I-mate Intelegent phone to shoehorn Windows 8 on a 4.7" screen for $750, dock in tow
Remember i-mate? The company used to make aluminum-clad, fairly compact smartphones in the dawn days of Windows Mobile, harking back to the early 2000s even.
Then its partnership with HTC fell flat, board members were accused of fraud, and we haven't seen anything from it for a few years already, just knew it relocated to Redmond, WA. That's until Microsoft came out with Windows 8. Although it said its new touch-oriented OS is not to be shoehorned in a phone, at least not yet, as it is not optimized for the smaller screens, i-mate went ahead and did just that.
The first phone running Windows 8 (not WP8) is apparently going by the clever codename Intelegent, and will be sold later this year at a $750 price point without any carrier subsidies, with GSM and CDMA radios inside.
With a 4.7" 1280x768 pixels HD screen, Intel Atom processor inside, 2 GB of RAM, 64 GB of storage, and an 8 MP camera, it will certainly be a very interesting proposition, be it only to see how i-mate solved the puzzle to fit the Win 8 interface on display of this size. Well, tiles are tiles, we guess, and Win 8 certainly supports that resolution, plus a 3000 mAh battery is going to back up the show, so endurance should be on par with modern smartphones, considering the frugal Atom CPU, which Intel said it provided know-how for when i-mate approached it 18 months ago. The CEO Morrison claims 10 hours of talk time and 6 hours of video playback, which is about the smartphone norm these days.
They did have to build their own cellular connectivity interface, complete with a dialer and backend APIs, as Win 8 isn't meant for phone calls, so they get routed through the Lync communication software, but the system i-mate built goes around the wake-up times needs of the full desktop OS, and takes just 45 milliseconds to respond and pick up an incoming call.
Another interesting detail, however, is that the Intelegent will have a docking system, similar to the Asus Padfone franchise, with a tablet screen option to which the phone can beam videos wirelessly, for example. That whole kit is expected to cost $1600, but hasn't been demonstrated in the videos the company showed. Now all that is left is for i-mate to iron out the kinks and put the Intelegent on sale for a pretty interesting experiment. Its CEO Jim Morrison thinks that with the upcoming Windows Blue update, which is scaled for smaller screens, the task will be even easier.