O2 – Xda Zest review

first Xda to be available on O2 Pay and Go
Photo of O2 – Xda Zest
£free to £146.79 (depending on contract), £195.73 (Pay and Go from O2)

The Xda is a stalwart of O2′s smartphone lineup, and there have been plenty of models in the past. But the new Xda Zest has some unique factors we’ve not seen before from O2.

Probably the most important of these is that it is the first ever Xda to be available on a Pay and Go basis. You can get it on contract too, but for those who have been waiting for a pay as you go Windows Mobile smartphone from O2, this is their first bite at the cherry.

The other unique factor is that this is the first Xda not to have been made by HTC. Instead the Zest is made by Asus. What this means is that you probably won’t see the Zest appearing under another name from a different operator, as you so often see with HTC’s devices.

To be honest this latter factor doesn’t mean a huge amount in terms of the features you get with the Zest. They are packed in here as they are in many other Windows Mobile smartphones, and most of what you could want is present. The overall design is tidy and, at 120mm x 60.5mm x 16.5mm and 120g, the Xda Zest is easy enough to carry around.

The screen has an attractive 640 x 480 pixels at its disposal which help make its rendering of information clear. There is a useful hold button on the right edge of the casing. You can lock any Windows Mobile 6.1 Professional device from the Today screen but it is handy to be able to do so from any screen at all. In our view not enough Windows Mobile smartphones sport a physical button for this job.

The Xda Zest is 3G and has a front camera for two-way video calling. The main camera manages 3-megapixels and, while it lacks a flash and autofocus, it is competent enough. GPS is built in, which is a great boon, and Google Maps is pre-installed. Add some third party software and you are able to use the Xda Zest as your satnav device.

As is the current trend, Windows Mobile 6.1 Professional is hidden from view early on by a front end that allows you to sweep at the screen to get to applications and services. One screen offers access to applications and settings, another gives you a weather forecast and a third gets you to contacts. It isn’t hugely innovative or new, but it does make Windows Mobile look a little snazzier than it otherwise would.

Company: O2

Contact: 08442 0202202

Nothing about the Xda Zest is novel or innovative in its own right. On the other hand this is the first PAYG Xda, and it carries itself well.