O2 Orbit 2

o2_logo.gifO2 have kindly sent me their new Windows Mobile 6 based Orbit 2 as part of their blogger seeding programme. It’s very timely as I am currently doing some Windows Mobile work every other week (and Nokia N95/S60 in intervening weeks).

This has given me the opportunity to compare the current top of the range (WiFi, GPS, HSDPA, multi megabyte camera) S60 and Windows Mobile phones. Here are some initial random observations…

  •  First of all, the Orbit 2 is actually a re-cased HTC Touch Cruise with different bundled software. Personally, I think the rounded corners of the Orbit look better.O2_xda_orbit2_main.png
  • The Orbit 2 comes with a fully functional version of CoPilot. This is a great plus point because both with the HTC Touch Cruise and N95 you have to pay extra for maps and turn by turn navigation respectively.
  • I am pleased O2 haven’t included the HTC today screen plugin that’s found on other devices such as the HTC Touch that I have been using – I personally don’t think the plugin is much good. It just confuses users.
  • The Orbit is still a PDA pretending to be a phone and the N95 is a phone pretending to be a PDA. I personally don’t think the N95 UI can be improved that much without re-engineering the whole thing. However, a few small changes might make the Orbit (and Windows Mobile in general) much easier to use for phone-centric users. For example, single tap (or at most two tap) access to create a SMS text message.
  • It’s interesting that many Windows Mobile phones, including the Orbit 2, now include a JAVA ME runtime. This isn’t part of Windows Mobile and is something added by the handset ODM (HTC). It works very well and allows use popular applications such as GMail.
  • Programming for Windows Mobile is still much much easier than for S60, even with the advances of Carbide.c++. It’s not necessarily due to the c#/compact framework or even MFC. Even when programming against Win32 (for maximum compatibility), you need much fewer API calls, they are better documented and tend to work first time without resorting to workarounds.

I’ll post more on the Orbit 2 when I have had a chance to try out all the features.