HTC P3300 review: Compact navigator

Jiří Kuruc, 31 October 2006. Read the original review at MobilMania.cz
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HTC is launching a new communicator based on the Windows Mobile 5 platform, which the German operator T-Mobile decided to adopt as a successor of the popular Compact line (HTC Magician). The new HTC P3300 features revolutionary user-control, an integrated GPS receiver and FM radio. Naturally, the device has a few cons as well. After all, would this review be valuable if we did not try to discover them?

HTC P3300 HTC P3300 HTC P3300
HTC P3300

Key features

  • The most recent version of Windows Mobile 5
  • Integrated GPS receiver SiRF Star III
  • Wi-Fi and EDGE support
  • Comfortable single-hand control
  • Integrated FM radio
  • Small size and low weight
  • microSD memory card slot

Main disadvantages

  • Slow processor
  • No 3G connectivity
  • No standard audio output
  • Poor-quality camera
  • Trackball does not run smoothly
  • No Infrared port

MDA Compact (HTC Magician) became a part of T-Mobile’s portfolio at the beginning of 2005. It entered the market as a revolutionary device among communicators based on the Windows Mobile platform. Its crucial advantage was its small size against the forerunners like MDA II (HTC Himalaya) or MDA III (HTC Blue Angel), which could only be carried hooked on a belt or in a case. All communicators before MDA Compact were considered "big" as well as “non-practical” due to the lack of important software functions. Along with its modest size MDA Compact offered an improved interface for contact dialing and a user-friendly, no-stylus mode of typing SMS. It lacked Wi-Fi and EDGE, but 2 years ago it was not a big deal.

T-Mobile MDA Compact T-Mobile MDA Compact T-Mobile MDA Compact
At its time MDA Compact became highly successful due to its small size

Logically, the successors did not hesitate to appear. The first one was MDA Compact II (HTC Charmer); apart from being based on the new OS Windows Mobile 5 it also supported EDGE. On the other hand its processor Texas Instruments OMAP850 (200 MHz) was far slower than Intel XScale (416 MHz) used in the original Compact. Yet, the basic reason for many users not to go for MDA Compact II, but wait for a better model, was probably the lack of Wi-Fi support.

T-Mobile MDA Compact II  T-Mobile MDA Compact II  T-Mobile MDA Compact II
Official photos of MDA Compact II

Wi-Fi appeared soon afterwards in the communicator we know as Qtek S200 (HTC Prophet) – a device full of features, with improved control, Wi-Fi support, and a brilliant display. The pity was that the manufacturer had once again “backed the wrong horse” and had set to the non-popular processor Texas Instruments OMAP850 running at just 200Mhz. In the end, T-Mobile decided not to include it in its portfolio.

Qtek S200 Qtek S200 Qtek S200
Official photos of Qtek S200

That is why consumers chose to give precedence to MDA Vario (HTC Wizard). Besides, compared to Qtek S200, MDA Vario had the advantage of possessing a superb hardware keypad. Even though MDA Vario was not a direct Compact successor, it was definitely worth special attention. Its only deficiency was and still is its slow processor.

T-Mobile MDA Vario T-Mobile MDA Vario T-Mobile MDA Vario
MDA Vario in one of our reviews

And here we have – the new HTC P3300 (HTC Artemis), also presented by T-Mobile as MDA Compact III.

T-Mobile MDA Compact III T-Mobile MDA Compact III
T-Mobile MDA Compact III was presented at the IFA fair

As you can see in the picture with technical specifications, it is quite probable that T-Mobile will have HTC create a special version of the communicator without Wi-Fi support. I personally consider a communicator without Wi-Fi a ready failure, unless its price is considerably lower than the basic version of the device. But let’s now pay attention to the original model HTC P3300.

Reference table of all HTC manufactured PocketPC and Smartphone devices

Dandy in a small frock

At first sight HTC P3300 looks longer than Compact. The real dimensions of both devices are nearly identical though. The great advantage of HTC P3300 consists in its slim profile and less than 130 grams of weight. Even if a communicator, HTC is so small and elegant that it reminds some of Nokia smartphones. It feels comfortable in any pocket.

HTC P3300 HTC P3300 HTC P3300 HTC P3300
HTC P3300 in our pictures; the frigid silver polish is being gradually abandoned

The body of the communicator is made of dark grey plastics. There are no decorative metal elements except for two glossy bands on both sides. P3300 is no fashion freak. It looks rather moderate and practical. It is also very comfortable to hold due to the roundness off all its edges. The body is elaborated precisely and looks solid– all parts stick firmly one to another.

The brightest of all

HTC P3300’s display has standard parameters: QVGA resolution or 240 x 320 pixels, 65K colors. On one hand, it is true that other communicators in the same price and size categories do not offer more; on the other hand, however, an increased resolution is becoming highly desirable since common mobile phones for 100-200 euros feature the same resolution. The display diagonal measures the standard 2.8 inches.

HTC P3300 HTC P3300 HTC P3300 HTC P3300
HTC P3300 is slim enough to fit in any pocket

However, there are other aspects, in which HTC P3300 scores better: it is highly probable that HTC has used a display of qualities similar to those of Qtek S200’s display. Contrast and color saturation are good, while maximum brightness is excellent. The legibility of the display under direct sunlight is perfect. Improvement is especially notable when HTC P3300 is directly compared to its current competitors or with the older Compact communicators. Backlighting only has 4 stages – a minus I am willing to pass over because of the quality of the display.

HTC P3300 HTC P3300 HTC P3300 HTC P3300
Compared to Nokia N73 HTC P3300 could hardly be considered a looser. Its width is compensated by its slimness.

HTC P330 has a touchscreen display, which – quite naturally - is vulnerable to scratches. If you care about your communicator, I recommend you to use a protecting foil. The latter may slightly reduce brightness, but will matt the display eliminating the reflections of the surrounding objects. The communicator offers a stylus for work with the display. It consists of a middle metal part and plastic endings. The stylus is long enough but may create difficulties to users with bigger fingers.

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