GIGABYTE GSmart S1205 Review
The GIGABYTE GSmart S1205 features the oh-so-familiar Windows Mobile 6.5 interface which is a silent nightmare to navigate with your fingers. There is no room for comparison with contemporary operating systems like Android and iOS. It should still be noted that GIGABYTE made an effort here. Along with the usual Windows Mobile look, we have three in-house made themes which are part of the so called Smart Pack. This is a collection of themes we already saw in a previous model, the S1200. For those of you already familiar with that model, you will see nothing new in the interface here. GIGABYTE seems to implement the same themes, it is only that their number is now down to three.
The picturesque Chinese theme, the supposedly advanced Smart Zone theme and the weather sensitive Live Nature theme all seem to be tailored more for fun than for heavy use. The transitions in those themes are slow and it is often hard to predict what a certain move would bring. It takes a lot of getting used to and some of the features like widgets were implemented in a way that left us wondering if functionality was ever considered. Actually, holding the square button allows us to quickly switch back to the standard theme. The presence of such a shortcut hints that usability was not the main focus for the additional interface packs. At the end of the day, we felt happy to go back to the traditional Windows Mobile theme despite its drawbacks.
It takes a couple of seconds to realize that tilting and turning the phone does not work - you probably guessed it right, there is no accelerometer. You can still change screen orientation with a couple of clicks but we had trouble doing this in the fancy interface packs. Calls is where the GIGABYTE GSmart S1205 shines with its dual-SIM functionality. It is one of very few smartphones we've seen that sport two SIM cards and the Windows Mobile platform. The two coverage bars for the SIM cards take up a tiny spot on the top of the screen and a dedicated button gives access to a variety of phone settings for each one of them. Selecting which card to use for a call is simple as it is done through the menu soft key while a certain contact has been selected. You can also choose which SIM card to be your primary one (for quick calls) at any given time.
The phonebook, as well as the organizer and messaging, are the same as in every other WM6.5 phone. Rich in features and hard to use are the keywords here. One of the main problems is dealing with the small graphical elements and annoying resistive screen..
The GIGABYTE GSmart S1205 has a 3-megapixel camera without flash or autofocus. It takes almost no time to load, and when fired up, one can play with its image quality, white balance, scene selection, exposure, effects, ISO sensitivity and so on. The quality of the pictures is low on the overall, but differs greatly, depending on the lighting and weather conditions. On a sunny day, images do look bearable, although some areas are over-exposed and detail is lacking. On a mostly cloudy day however, those photons were just not enough to produce some passable results.
Surprisingly, the 3MP cam allowed for some pretty decent VGA video recording at 30fps. The video is perfectly smooth and totally usable... for a VGA video, that is.
Gigabyte GSmart S1205 sample video at 640x480 pixels resolution.
The built-in speaker is loud enough for most occasions however it misses depth of sound, just as the headphones in the kit do. Luckily a 3.5mm jack on the bottom makes it easy to plug in your favorite headset and play. FM Radio is also on board with standard capabilities and live recording.
Software and GPS:
With the S1205, Windows Marketplace for Mobile is just a couple of clicks away. This should not fool you though – those clicks can take a lot of your time. The apps in the Marketplace are nowhere near what you'd find for other popular platforms. We tried the popular Facebook app, but unfortunately it could not render any pictures properly, at least for a normal period of time. Apart from that, installing apps was straightforward and easy.
The device comes with preinstalled Internet Explorer with the familiar browser features. It’s far from being perfect so we resorted to Opera Mobile 10, which loads pages a bit slowly, but ones loaded it pays you off with a really smooth scrolling and zooming experience. This way we could make full use of that Wi-Fi functionality.
Office functionality is excellent as usual on the Windows Mobile platform. There is full support for the Office suite (including 2007 Office files), as well as PDF files, both of which we highly appreciate.
Even though there is no pre-installed software to test the GPS, we tried Google Maps and it was able to pin-point our location without a problem. Sluggish navigation on the maps once again proves to be one of the biggest drawbacks on this platform.