In April 2008, we reviewed the E-TEN Glofiish X650; the X610 is its newer cousin. Though the X610 loses the X650’s VGA display, it gains Windows Mobile 6.1 (vs. 6.0) and an improved industrial design. Like all E-TEN Glofiish Windows Mobile Professional touch screen phones, the X610 is an unlocked GSM phone, which means you can use it with any carrier's SIM. It's a quad band world phone with EDGE and GPRS for data. In the US, the E-TEN Glofiish line is available from importers and a few online retailers, though the X610 is still hard to find.
Features at a Glance
The X610 includes a SiRF Star III GPS, WiFi, Bluetooth, a QVGA 240 x 320 touch screen display, a 2 megapixel camera, microSD card slot, and an FM radio. It runs Windows Mobile 6.1 Professional on a 400MHz processor and has 64 megs of RAM and 128 megs of flash ROM.
E-TEN includes the X610, an extra stylus, Lithium Ion battery, world charger (my box did not include the U.S. plug), USB sync cable, stereo earbud headset with inline mic, leather case, a Quick Start Guide, and an Outlook CD.
Design and Ergonomics
The X610 is one of the thinnest Pocket PC phones on the market. It's only 0.58", and it weighs 4.7 ounces. It has a soft touch finish that feels great in the hand, and the screen is flush with the casing for a nice-looking, if understated, phone. Build quality is good, and the unit looks and feels well made.
The camera lens is on the back, and the battery door at the rear is easy to remove, once you remove the stylus. There's a battery lock switch inside, and it won't power up if you don't put it back in the locked position after replacing the battery.
The volume buttons, voice command button, reset hole, and headset jack are located on the left side, while the power and camera buttons are on the right. The GPS antenna and wrist strap slot are on top, and the mini USB sync/charge port and microSD card slot are on the bottom.
There is a small d-pad on the front that is very difficult to use (and I have very small hands). It's hard to push the center button without also pushing one of the surrounding rocker buttons. Using the phone one-handed, I can only push the center button by rotating my thumb to use the nail. In an apparent attempt to streamline the front of the device, E-TEN only gave the X610 four buttons instead of the eight buttons found on the X650. These include the call send button, a dedicated GPS button, a button that launches the Quick Bar, and the End button. I particularly missed the Windows Start and OK buttons.
Phone Features and Data
The X610 is a quad band world phone that works on all GSM bands: 850/900/1800/1900MHz. It's sold unlocked for use with any GSM carrier: in the U.S., that means AT&T and T-Mobile. The phone has EDGE and GPRS for data, but no 3G (check out the Glofiish X800 if you want 3G HSDPA on AT&T). I got speeds averaging 128k on T-Mobile's EDGE network when testing with the DSL Reports mobile speed test.
Reception is very good on the U.S. bands. The phone had very good call quality and better than average RF. Both incoming and outgoing calls were loud and easy to understand. It worked well even in areas with low signal strength.
Performance and Horsepower
The X610 has a 400MHz processor, which is a downgrade from the X650 (500MHz). A faster processor would have been welcome since the phone's performance is sometimes sluggish. Though 400MHz should be more than adequate, the X610 sometimes feels sluggish. For example, it sometimes took a few presses of the touchscreen to get a response. Other times the press was immediately acknowledged.
More RAM would be welcome since the OS and E-TEN's included applications use all but 27 MB of RAM (E-TEN’s applications can be removed to regain memory, though some are required for proper operation). The X610 includes an SDHC microSD slot, so that can be used for extra storage.
Display and Multimedia
The 240 x 320 screen is bright and easy to read indoors; outdoors, it is much more difficult to see. The 2.8" screen supports landscape mode, although you have to change it from the Quick Bar since there’s no accelerometer.
The FM radio works only with the headset, which acts as the antenna. The user interface is not obvious, and it took me a while to figure out how to tune a station, partially because it worked best on the European band, not the U.S. band (I'm in Florida). You can turn the screen off while listening to the radio to save the battery. Once I tuned in to a station, the reception and sound quality were good.
Windows Media Player handles MP3 playback along with WMA and protected WMA files. Sound quality was good through the included stereo headset. Sound quality through the speakers was, as expected, fairly tinny. Video that was encoded at 466 kbps looked good, with only a little choppiness. In Windows Media Player Mobile on the device, tapping the button for a full-screen image rotated the screen and filled the screen with the video. It still looked pretty good, except that you have to look at the screen straight on; if it is tilted at any angle, it becomes much harder to see.
Playing other video types with TCPMP was considerably less successful. I tried a 240 x 320 pixel MPEG4 that was encoded at 832 kbps, and it was like watching a slideshow - most of the video frames were dropped. Admittedly, that’s a higher bitrate than most Windows Mobile devices can handle. In general, TCPMP and recent E-TEN phones don’t play well together.
The X610 has a 2 megapixel camera, fixed focus, with a maximum 1600 x 1200 resolution: several lesser resolutions are available. There's also a JPEG with EXIF data mode that includes latitude and longitude courtesy of the GPS. A GPS icon in the viewfinder flashes red and turns white once the Glofiish has acquired a signal. It has modes for both still pictures and for video (3GP) and some options for those who like a little more control over their pictures.
There are two completely separate camera applications: one that launches from the camera button on the side of the device, and one that launches from the Pictures and Video application. I used the one that launches from the camera button. Images are OK by 2MP standards, with decent colors and sharpness, though sharpness falls off at the edges and there's white-out in bright or high contrast settings.
The X610 has Bluetooth v2.0, Class 2 + EDR. Pairing with a headset is easy, although it takes a little while to discover the headset. DUN and PAN connections are cranky and we couldn’t get tethering up and running. But with EDGE speeds, tethering isn’t a great temptation.
WiFi 802.11b/g worked well with every access point I tried. The range was good, and it stayed connected very well.
Battery life is disappointing, though our unit might have problems since EDGE Glofiish phones with similar battery capacity usually have decent battery life. The X610 comes with a removable 1530 mAh battery, but I had trouble getting through a full day on a charge. The phone starts popping up warnings when 30% of the battery capacity is left, and the warnings become increasingly persistent after that. I was disconnected several times on a phone call when the battery was at 20%, and I think that the phone was disconnecting the call because the battery was low. Another time, I started with a fully-charged battery at 7:00 AM and was unable to use the GPS (it wouldn't turn on) at 1:00 PM because the battery was below 20%. Maybe I'm unusual, but I expect a phone to keep working until the battery completely dies. I appreciate some warning when it gets close to dying (maybe 5% of capacity), but I don't like having to dismiss low battery warnings every time I try to do something with several hours' life left on the battery. The battery issues made this phone impractical as my daily phone.
The phone uses the same 5v, 1 amp charger as prior Glofiish phones, and it also works with recent HTC phone chargers that are the same amperage/voltage and use the same connector.
For me, the X610's software was confusing. For example, there are two Today screens and a pop-up launcher: when you hit the red hard button, you get a today screen with the Start icon at the top left, with icons for wireless modes, SIM card, audio level, and battery status at the top right. Below these, you have the time and date, wireless connection information, owner information, message information, today's tasks and events, icons for recently-used applications, and soft buttons for contacts (or Speed Dial, if it's installed) and the Spb Shell.
Tapping the Spb Shell button leads to a second today screen: this one has battery status at the top left (no Start icon to access programs), weather, information about text messages, e-mail, and voicemail, and an icon to change the volume. Below that you see the current time and today's calendar. At the bottom, there are four icons for the four pages of the Spb Shell. You can also access these pages by swiping left-to-right or right-to-left across the screen. The other two pages are for applications (icons for the most-recently-used and folder-type icons that bring up groups of applications) and contacts (a screen of assignable buttons to access frequently-used contacts). The fourth icon at the bottom of the Today screen takes you back to the first today screen. It took me a while to figure out how to reliably get to a screen that has a Start icon for accessing applications.
A hardware button brings up the Quick Bar launcher with 9 on-screen buttons. Some are pre-assigned, while others can be assigned by the user. These are great for apps you want to get to often. One hardware button is dedicated to the GPS; with so few buttons, this seems like a waste of a button.
Contacts are also confusing because there are several different interfaces, and it takes some practice to figure out how to get to the specific one you want.
Pros: Slim and relatively light, very good call quality, good RF, strong WiFi with good companion software.
Cons: Battery life, slow camera, confusing software, lack of hardware buttons, video playback is just OK.
I wanted to like this phone because I really like the size and shape - it feels good in the hand. But there are just too many problems for me to use it as my primary phone. Unfortunately, it doesn't compete well with the many Windows Mobile phones available in the US from importers and carriers. It's not particularly cheap and for the same money you could get the unlocked GSM Samsung Omnia i900 or the US 3G unlocked GSM HTC Touch Diamond-- both are more exciting and are thin as well.
Size: 4.21 x 2.28 x .58 inches. Weight: 4.7 ounces (with battery).
Phone: Quad band GSM world phone 850/900/1800/1900MHz bands with GPRS and EDGE for data. Unlocked for use with any GSM carrier.
GPS: SiRF Star III internal GPS.
Camera: 2 MP, fixed focus.
Audio: Built in speaker, mic and 2.5mm standard stereo headphone jack.
Networking: Integrated WiFi 802.11b/g and Bluetooth 2.0 +EDR.
Software: Windows Mobile 6.1 Professional operating system. Microsoft Mobile Office suite including Word, Excel, PowerPoint (view presentations only), Internet Explorer, Outlook Mobile (e-mail, contacts, calendar, tasks and notes). Solitaire, Bubble Breaker, Calculator, Internet Sharing, MSN Messenger, Pictures and Videos, Windows Live, Windows Media Player 10 Mobile, ActiveSync 4.5, Outlook 2007 Trial. 3rd party and E-TEN software: GPS Utility, Camera, FM Tuner, MMS and SMS Composers, Spb Mobile Shell Today screen plug-in, utility to hard reset and wipe the device, Memory Optimization, Quick Bar, Task Manager, Cyberon Voice Commander 2.5.1, Wireless Manager, Photo Album, Backup Utility, Battery Meter, Connection Wizard, Easy Keyboard, Location SMS, Scenarios (create profiles for four different environments such as outdoor and meeting), SIM Manager, Speed Dial.
Expansion: 1 microSD card slot also supporting SDHC cards over 2 GB capacity.
In the Box: X610, battery, extra stylus, stereo headset, USB sync cable, world charger, leather case, software CD, Quick Start guide, and phone strap.