While we've seen several high end Pocket PC Phone
Edition models in the US, we haven't seen any affordable, more
basic models until the recent introduction of the Audiovox PPC4100
from AT&T Wireless and now the E-TEN P300B which will be sold
under the FutureCom Global brand in the US soon. Users in Asia
have had the pleasure of using the P300 for several months, but
that model was never sold by a US carrier. The new P300B adds Bluetooth
to the P300, but it doesn't have a camera. The P300 has a VGA camera
with the lens located just above the display facing the user, and
is thus best suited for self-portraits. Since many folks like to
take photos of something other than themselves, the camera's omission
from the P300B isn't a great loss. Instead, many users crave the
ability to use Bluetooth headsets, and the P300B will oblige.
The P300B's specs won't make you drool, but its
compact size and relatively small price tag will. This is one of
the smallest Pocket PC phones, and weighs only 5.8 ounces. FutureCom
Global will sell it for $499.95 unlocked, which means you can use
it with any GSM provider and don't need to sign a contract. The
unit runs the Windows Mobile 2003 Phone Edition OS, has a 2.8" non-translfective
color display, an SDIO slot and a healthy amount of memory. It's
a GSM world phone that supports 900/1800/1900MHz bands and GPRS
Pocket PC phones are great for those who really
value PDA functionality and wireless Internet access. The large
touch screen, web browsing and email options are much more robust
than those offered by regular mobile phones and smaller screen
smartphones. The tradeoff comes in the form of size and ergonomics:
holding a Pocket PC to your head and forgoing a hardware number
pad isn't the perfect experience for heavy phone users. Thank goodness
for hands free headsets!
Design and Ergonomics
Like all Pocket PC phones, the P300B is a PDA
first and a phone second. It's a full-featured Pocket PC and offers
all the standard Pocket PC features. Phone Edition adds a mobile
phone radio and phone software to the basic Pocket PC package.
This is one of the smallest Pocket PC phones, though it is still
considerably larger than standard cell phones. Of course, cell
phones don't offer the wealth of features and power that smartphones
The P300B has most standard Pocket PC buttons and hardware
navigation hardware, which compares well to the Audiovox PPC4100 which
has no d-pad or application buttons. You'll find call send and end buttons,
along with the standard re-mappable Pocket PC calendar and contacts button
on the front face. The unit has a small but very usable joystick navigator
which aids in one-handed operation, and a side rocker switch for changing
volume. When the phone's radio is turned on, the volume button adjusts
the ringer volume when not in a call and the call volume when in a call.
When the radio is off, the rocker adjusts the system volume. Pressing
down on the rocker switch turns on the voice recorder. The unit has an
antenna that protrudes about 1/2" and a large LED that indicates
network and charging status. An additional blue LED illuminates when
Bluetooth is turned on. A 2.5mm (standard cell phone size) headset jack
and the IR port are located on the top edge of the phone, while the sync
port and SD slot are located on the bottom. This means if you use cards
that protrude such as SD WiFi cards, the card will extend from the bottom
of the handheld.
The unit doesn't have a key or button lock feature
to prevent accidental button presses and screen taps from turning on
the unit, however by default only the power button will turn on the device.
As with standard cell phones, you can have the phone auto-answer incoming
calls and you can have the phone answer the call after 3, 9 or 12 or
15 seconds. The phone has a band selection feature that allows you to
select 900/1900MHz (Europe/Asia) or 1900MHz (US).
Horsepower and Expansion
The P300B has a Samsung 2410 200MHz processor and 64
megs of RAM with ~53 megs available to the user. It also has 32.5 megs
of persistent NAND flash storage that will survive a hard reset, and
that's a lot of NAND storage for a Pocket PC with otherwise low end specs!
While Pocket PC Phones don't usually have the cutting edge specs that
their non-phone counterparts do (with the exception of the XDA
II which is a powerhouse), the P300B still has fairly low end specs.
In comparison, the XDA II, Audiovox PPC4100 and the Hitachi
G1000 have a 400MHz XScale processor and the Samsung
i700 has a 300MHz XScale processor. The XDA II has 128 megs of RAM,
the i700 has 64 and the Hitachi G1000 has only 32 megs.
The unit feels decently fast for web browsing, working
with Pocket Word and Excel, and accessing PIM (Personal Information Manager)
data. It will be adequate for most users, but power users should consider
faster models with better displays. Graphics performance isn't stellar
as you can see from the benchmarks below. If you're looking for a Pocket
PC phone that will double as a gaming machine, look elsewhere. The P300B
doesn't have user-selectable CPU settings for power saving, but given
the 200MHz processor, you likely won't want to underclock this unit.
The P300B's SD slot supports SD and MMC storage cards
as well as SDIO cards. I tested the Sandisk SD
WiFi card and it worked perfectly. Switching between WiFi and GPRS worked
well, thanks to the networking improvements in the Windows Mobile 2003
OS. The SanDisk WiFi + 256 megs
memory card would not lock into the P300B's SD slot (a problem I
haven't had with other Pocket PCs) so don't count on using that card
with this phone.
Since the P300B is sold direct by FutureCom Global
and isn't offered by a US carrier, it's sold unsubsidized and unlocked,
which means you can use it with any GSM carrier and don't have to sign
a new contract with your provider. We used the phone on T-Mobile's network
and it worked without a hitch. T-Mobile is a popular carrier with the
gadget set because they don't mind customers using non-T-Mobile phones
and they have great rates for data. The P300B is a world phone that supports
900/1800 and 1900MHz bands. It does not support the 850MHz band that
AT&T Wireless and Cingular are overlaying in the US. That doesn't
mean it won't work with these carriers, but it does mean you won't be
able to take advantage of additional coverage offered by their new 850MHz
We found that RF wasn't very good, so consider this
phone only if you live and work in an area with strong GSM reception.
Here in Silicon Valley we have areas of marginal reception and good reception.
In areas of marginal coverage, the phone barely got one bar of signal
strength and sometimes couldn't connect to the tower (our other phones
had one to two bars of signal). In areas of good reception it was quite
usable though it pulled in fewer bars than our other GSM phones such
as the XDA II, Nokia 3560, Nokia N-Gage QD
and Sony Ericsson P800. Voice quality
is very good on this phone and volume is adequate unless you're in a
very noisy environment in which case you'll want to use a headset. It
comes with a 2.5mm stereo headset mic unit that's great for listening
to MP3s, and fine for phone conversations.
You can use the included Pocket Internet Explorer
for web browsing and Pocket Outlook for email, or the 3rd party applications
of your choice. I highly recommend NetFront 3.1, which is faster, offers
Java and supports multiple windows.
You can dial directly from the contacts app (all phone
numbers are underlined: tap on the number to dial). Likewise you can
send an email directly from a contact listing: just tap on the email
address to send a message. To dial an outgoing number that isn't in your
address book, you'll use the onscreen dialer which has buttons large
enough for finger dialing. You'll access the speed dial list from this
screen, as well as your call log. The call log can be wiped clean whenever
you wish, and can retain data for 1 week up, 1 month, 3 months, 6 months
or forever. You can dial directly from the call log as well. The P300B
comes with its own basic speed dial app but you'll probably want to use
the one built into the Phone application.
The P300B has integrated Bluetooth which is great news
for wireless headset users. Though there are many kinds of Bluetooth
profiles, the unit supports only headset and serial port profile. It
doesn't have profiles for network (connecting to a Bluetooth access point)
or ActiveSync profiles. The phone paired easily with Bluetooth headsets
such as the Jabra 250 and
automatically handed the call over to the headset. Range was very good
with headsets as was call clarity. If you'd like to use a Bluetooth GPS,
this P300B should work just fine since it offers the serial port profile
used by Bluetooth GPS devices.
We've run benchmarks using spb Benchmark.
I've compared the Samsung i700, XDA
II and the P300B Pocket PC phones. All tests were run
with units fresh out of the box. Higher
numbers are better (shown in green
Battery Life, Charger and Cradle
The P300B has 1300 mAh Lithium Ion battery
which fits flush with the back of the unit. That's a common
capacity for standard Pocket PC phone batteries and should
last the average user through the day. The unit comes with
a handy battery utility that will put a battery icon in
the taskbar that graphically indicates charge level.
The P300B comes with a cradle that has
a slot to charge a 2nd battery and an LED to indicate charging
status of the second battery. When cradled, the phone rakes
back, making it easy to see the display and work with the
unit when cradled. The power cable plugs into the cradle,
but not directly into the phone, so you'll need to carry
the cradle to charge the phone on the road. The unit comes
with a world charger for use in most any country. You must
also plug the sync cable into the charger to sync, rather
than directly into the phone. The cradle has a USB host
port and E-TEN claims it should work with USB peripherals
such as keyboards and mice, but I couldn't get either to
work or even power up.
Display, Sound and Multimedia
Unlike current Pocket PCs and Pocket
PC Phone Edition models, the P300B doesn't have a 3.5",
65,000 color transflective display. Instead it has a 2.8" 4,096
color display. While this unit won't be your first choice
for viewing photos and videos, the display is sharp and
readable and fares a bit better outdoors than transflectives.
The smaller display allows for a smaller overall unit which
is a good thing, since Pocket PC phones tend to be large.
Despite the smaller screen, it is easy to see and read
and the only challenge I encountered was using the on-screen
keyboard and handwriting recognition. Since each keyboard
key is smaller, you must be more precise when tapping out
your words, and you must write letters smaller when using
The Backlight Control applet allows you
to adjust brightness using an infinite slider. You can
also set the unit to adjust backlight relative to remaining
battery power. Unlike transflective PDAs, the P300B has
a Contrast applet which allows you to set contrast using
a graphic with 4 shades of gray as a guideline.
As with all Pocket PC phones, the P300B
has a front firing speaker above the display and a mic
at the bottom, and you can adjust system and phone volume
independently. The speaker and mic handle both phone audio
and system audio. The unit's built-in speaker isn't terribly
loud for alerts and ring tones but is fine for voice conversations.
The phone has a 2.5mm 3-ring headset
jack (standard mobile phone size, Pocket PCs usually have
a 3.5mm jack). A stereo earbud headset with mic and a call
send/end button and a volume control is included. The earbuds
sound great for music and work well for voice calls.
As with all Pocket PCs, the P300B comes
with Pocket versions of Windows Media Player for MP3 playback
and WMV/WMA/ASF videos. I tested the popular free video
player Pocket MPV using the Spider Man trailer MPEG1 video
I've used for many other Pocket PC video tests, and the
P300B dropped 652 out of 2640 frames. During video playback,
there was some odd artifacting in the lower letterbox area
which I haven't seen on other Pocket PCs.
affordable than most Pocket PC phones and you can buy it
without having to sign a contract with your mobile service
provider. Small and lightweight. Has Bluetooth that supports
headsets as well as GPS. It's a world phone that supports
900/1800/1900MHz bands. Con: On
the slow side, though adequate for daily business tasks.
Screen isn't transflective and supports only 4,096 colors.
Bluetooth only comes with headset and serial port profiles.
RF isn't strong, so consider this phone only if you live
and work in areas with strong GSM coverage. No speakerphone.
2.8" 240 x 320 pixel color display with 4,096
MHz Samsung 2410 processor. 64 megs of RAM with ~53
available to the user. 5 megs of flash storage available.
64 megs NAND Flash ROM with 32.5 megs available to
Size: 4.6" x
2.63" x .9". 5.8 oz.
in speaker and mic
(no speakerphone). Supports alarm sounds, LED alert
and vibrating alerts. Windows Media Player for
MP3s, and has a 2.5mm stereo 3 ring headset.
SD slot supporting SDIO that accepts SD and MMC cards
as well as SDIO cards.
Comes with a 1300 mAh rechargeable Lithium Ion battery.
Mobile 2003 Phone Edition operating system. Microsoft
Pocket Office suite including Pocket Word, Excel,
Internet Explorer, MS Reader and Outlook. Also, Terminal
Services, MSN Instant Messenger for Pocket PC and
Voice Recorder as well as handwriting recognition. ActiveSync
and Outlook for the desktop.
tri-band 900/1800/1900 MHz, GPRS Class B / Multi-slot
Class10. Bluetooth 1.1 class 2 radio.
the Box: CD, manual, phone, cradle,
slip case, battery, world charger, stereo headset
mic with call send/end button and stylus.