Toshiba TG01 review

Windows Mobile has been kicking around so long now it’s beginning to feel as if it was born in the phone equivalent of the ice age, but with its tight integration with Exchange and Outlook, there’s still a healthy business demand for handsets. It’s more difficult, however, to see why any consumer would purchase a Windows Mobile phone, which makes Toshiba’s TG01 a difficult device to assess.

On the one hand, it’s a blatant iPhone copy. It has a large, sensitive touchscreen, it has no physical keyboard and few hardware controls. Just as the iPhone is locked to O2, the TG01 is locked to Orange; you can’t get hold of it on any other network.

But on the other hand, it really doesn’t do a good enough job of masking the iniquities of Windows Mobile. Where HTC has made a great success of providing a front end – TouchFLO 3D – that turns Microsoft’s arthritic mobile operating system into something from the modern age, Toshiba’s is thin, insubstantial and considerably less-professionally produced.

You can see what it’s trying to do. The home screen features a clock and three, customisable, vertically-scrolling “stripes” housing groups of apps, such as settings, messaging and phone operations – a further three stripes can be accessed to each side of the home screen, simply by swiping a finger left or right. The animations accompanying the transition from screen to screen are ambitious, and the information panel at the top can host a number of different panels too.

The trouble is, the whole thing looks like it’s been rushed – about as far from the polished design success of the iPhone as it’s possible to be. It even makes Android look the paragon of sophisticated design. What’s worse, however, is that it’s only skin deep. Click an icon to launch an application or try to set the clock alarm and you’re instantly dumped in the stylus-driven world of Windows Mobile. Not even the huge 4.1in 480 x 800 touchscreen of the TG01 can help here and you’ll either have to resort to tethering the bundled cheap plastic stylus to it or grow your nails a bit to operate it comfortably.

Text entry is okay, but again, nothing to write home about. Toshiba’s on-screen Qwerty keyboard is fiddly in both portrait and landscape modes – the saving grace is that you can install a third party keyboard if you wish.

And then there’s the internet browsing experience, central to the success of the modern, consumer smartphone. It’s just not good enough. Instead of opting for Opera, Toshiba has plumped for Internet Explorer Mobile 6. This has only just started appearing on Windows Mobile smartphones and, while an enormous improvement on the Pocket IE of yore, it’s still far from perfect. Notably, though you can zoom quickly out and into web pages (a touch sensitive zoom slider below the screen comes in handy here), there’s a limit to how close you can get – that makes links almost impossible to hit accurately.

On the plus side, the phone feels quick and responsive. It’s built on the Snapdragon platform and boasts an incredibly fast 1GHz processor. It’s packed with all the features you’d expect including GPS, an FM radio tuner, Bluetooth and HSDPA for fast mobile data downloads. There’s a really good selection of extra software applications, from the useful Core video player, which boasts integrated YouTube capability, and even a video-editing tool. And one area where it does match the iPhone is pocketability. Despite the enormous screen, its centimetre-thin profile means it fits in your pocket remarkably well.

Details

Cheapest price on contract
Contract monthly charge
Contract period 18 months
Contract provider Orange

Battery Life

Talk time, quoted 4hrs
Standby, quoted 9 days

Physical

Dimensions 70 x 130 x 10mm (WDH)
Weight 129g
Touchscreen yes
Primary keyboard On-screen

Core Specifications

RAM capacity 256MB
ROM size 512MB
Camera megapixel rating 3.2mp
Front-facing camera? no
Video capture? yes

Display

Screen size 4.1in
Resolution 480 x 800
Landscape mode? yes

Other wireless standards

Bluetooth support yes
Integrated GPS yes

Software

OS family Windows Mobile

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