As a longstanding Windows Mobile user, I was keen to see how the new Vodafone 1210 stacks up. It promises to do just about everything its two to three times more expensive Windows Mobile cousins can, for an easier $599 price.
The 1210 comes out of Vodafone’s coyly-named Other Device Manufacturer programme, which means the UK mobile giant shops around at Asian OEMs for cheap phones. Giant OEM ASUS came up with the 1210 for Vodafone, using a compact, generic chocolate-bar format and an Intel (now Marvell) StrongARM processor inside. It’s not a very flash phone, the 1210, being more a corporate workhorse than a big, geeky device that’ll need two hands and a stylus to operate.
I actually prefer the 1210 in many ways as it’s easier to use on the move, thanks to the one handed operation. That said, the joystick for the cursor and input was a tricky to use at times.
You’re not missing out on very much if you go for the 1210 instead of a more expensive Windows Mobile phone. The 1210 synched just fine with Outlook and Exchange Server for messages and calendar items; it handles non-Microsoft mail well too: I sent and received email using secure IMAP and SMTP AUTH over the internet without dramas.
A 45.6 by 34.2mm LCD with 65,536 colours and 240 by 320 pixel resolution screen makes it easy to read messages on the 1210 and to browse the web with Opera. That’s right: ASUS installed a competing browser, and the ClearVue mini-office productivity suite rather than Microsoft’s equivalents. Perhaps that helped save money, but either way, the apps work well.
There’s also Bluetooth, USB connectivity (yes, the 1210 charges over that port), and room for a Micro SD memory card, awkwardly placed under the battery.
A camera is missing, however.
What really sold me on the 1210 was the excellent call reception, though. Here’s a Windows Mobile phone that you can actually talk on, which makes a welcome change.
Not so good was the 3G broadband, however: initially, I couldn’t connect to the internet at all while in 3G coverage on the North Shore. When the 1210 switched over to the much slower GPRS, it was able to latch onto the net to access websites and pick up email. Check before you buy that this isn’t a problem for you. I was also looking for a wipe device setting but couldn’t locate it; however, Windows Mobile 5 supports remote wipe using Exchange Server’s admin tools, so the 1210 should be clearable from afar if it falls into the wrong hands.
Overall, the 1210 is a great little phone for business users, at a reasonable price.