O2 – XDA Flint review

large format, two-piece Windows Mobile device
Photo of O2 – XDA Flint
£free (depending on contract)

O2′s XDA Flint is a strange beast of a device. It sits somewhere between the smartphone and the netbook in terms of size, though it is much more smartphone than netbook in terms of its features and capabilities.

The device originally appeared as HTC’s Advantage, and stepped through several iterations, but it is no longer in HTCs live product listing. O2′s take on it has been to position it primarily for student use, though we aren’t convinced that this market will have any particular reason to like it more than any other.

The XDA Flint is a two-piece device, with its keyboard entirely separate and able to be left behind if not needed. Frankly, leaving the keyboard at home won’t do you many portability favours as the bulk of the size and weight lies in the other section which carries all the internal workings and a 5-inch, 640 x 480-pixel screen.

The screen is large enough for Web browsing with ease, and it is intended to be used primarily in wide format. The keyboard fixes to it using magnets, and when the two are connected the screen sits at a notebook-like angle so it is easy to view on a desk.

The keyboard is flat and keys are rather larger than those you’ll find on any smartphone. But they still aren’t large enough for touch-typing. And that’s really the problem. The XDA Flint is neither netbook/notebook nor phone, and the chances are that despite all the features it offers you may well find you want both in addition to it.

Nonetheless, its features list is impressive. Windows Mobile 6.1 Professional is at the core. The XDA Flint has SIM card support with HSDPA data speeds. It is difficult to use the device for voice calls, though. We’d suggest the best method is to use a headset for privacy in calls.

GPS is built in, as is Wi-Fi. There is 16GB of memory and a (rather old fashioned) miniSD card slot for adding more storage. There is a 3-megapixel camera with LED flash and on the front of the device is a second camera for two-way video calling.

Unfortunately, the magnets that hold screen and keyboard together aren’t foolproof. We found that anything but very light tapping at the touch screen caused the device to fall backwards on the desk, simply because the screen section is so much heavier than the keyboard, making the device top-heavy. This weighting issue is the same one that prevents the XDA Flint being held in two hands for keyboard use. The sections just won’t stay connected and the top section falls away.

Company: O2

The XDA Flint is not a bad idea. Bringing Windows Mobile to a larger format device is certainly something that could work. But size-wise the Flint is neither chalk nor cheese, and the magnet system for holding screen and keyboard together is not totally reliable. Add the fact that netbooks are all the rage, and we aren't sure the XDA Flint has a great deal going for it.