Review of the Krome iQ700 Windows Mobile based Smartphone

(a.k.a the Orange SPV C500, Qtek 8010, iMate sp3 and Audiovox SMT 5600)

OK, here is a review of my current Smartphone, the Krome iQ700. This review is based on a usage experience of around 3 months.

Who is this KROME by the way?
Their website (http://www.krome.com.au/) proudly proclaims that they are an Australian company, but their sales office is located in India and at this moment, it looks like they are selling these phones only in India.

The phone is actually made by a company called HTC from Taiwan, who is an OEM for many operators and phone manufacturers around the world. This model is called the HTC Typhoon and is available as the Audivox SMT 5600 in the US/Orange SPV C500 in Europe and also sold by many other companies with names like QTEK, iMATE etc.,

Physical Aspects
The phone feels solid in your hand. Though the body is made of plastic, the metallic painting gives a very professional look. It is quite small and can be easily mistaken for a regular Sony Ericsson phone like the k500. Though a bit heavy at over 200 grams, it fits quite neatly on your pocket. A stereo headphone is provided which also serves as a hands free device. Though the music quality on the phone is quite remarkable, the bass on the headset is a little flat. My only gripe about the hardware is the 5 way button on the centre with which you navigate around the menus. (My Canon Powershot S50 has a very similar 5 way key which also suffers from this center-push problem). The keypad has a very tactile response, which gives a lot of confidence when typing things using the T9.

A little history
My primary intention of using this phone is as a
– PIM for syncing with outlook
– Multimedia like WMA/MP3 player
– Heavy internet browsing (on the phone as well as on the PC using GPRS)
The default ROM on the phone came with Windows Media Player 9 which is quite useless since the features are very limited. You cannot play the music either folder wise or album wise. All it does is it scans your phone for .wma/.mp3 files and just starts playing them one by one. You also have a shuffle option, which makes it almost similar to the iPOD shuffle. (Except that this one has a display which shows the current song being played.) That made me really disappointed since I have read many nice things about the WMP 10 in reviews for Audiovox SMT 5600.
Then Orange France came to my rescue. A few weeks back, they released an updated ROM for the SPV C500 sold in France, which came with WMP 10. Though the site clearly warns you (in French !) that you can use it to only update French Orange SPV C500 phones, I took the plunge and gave a try by downloading the update. As expected, when I ran the download, it failed with an error message saying ‘incompatible phone’ (Again in French !!). I googled to find an application called “Typhoon NBF update tool” with which you can update a few parameters on the ROM. I cleared the “Operator” setting in the new ROM. When I ran the update utility again, it started updating the phone……

The Typhoon NBF tool showing a loaded ROM

Once the update is over, the application on the desktop congratulated me in French and exited. The phone rebooted and voila … the default Orange home screen appeared! The first thing I did was to go to the “Settings” menu and change the language to English.

The layout of the Orange home screen is quite different from the default home screen. I liked the default screen better than Orange’s (though it looks better) because it shows the summary Today screen with your upcoming appointments.

As an extra, the French ROM came with a few applications like ‘Backup’ which are not available with the standard OS. More about it later.

All the screenshots in this review are from the French ROM. The picture below shows my start menu with all my custom applications.

Making Calls

The screen after you press the ‘call’ button

This is the basic necessity of any phone no matter how ‘smart’ it is. Dialing a number is easy, just type in the number and press “Call”. The call history is hidden in the main menu, though. Pressing the green key when you are on a call puts the phone on speakerphone. The speakerphone quality is quite good. Many times, the other party was not able to make out that I am on speakerphone!

Connectivity

Infrared Modem connectivity

This is where the typhoon is a real wizard. You have the choice of using Bluetooth, IrDA and the good old USB for connectivity options. I personally prefer the Bluetooth for Dialup and synchronization with Outlook, but using BT for long hours is a drain on the battery. When I am not connected to my laptop, I usually turn off Bluetooth. (The latest version of Active Sync [4.0] is supposed to sync over Bluetooth too. But I haven’t got it to work so far.) IrDA is good for quick exchange of small files like photos taken on your mobile, text files etc., between your friends.

Multimedia

This is what I love the typhoon for – excellent video and audio reproduction! Throw in a miniSD card of atleast 256 MB and you can carry movies on your phone! I managed to encode the full length movie – Jim Carry’s Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls in only 180 MB of size and could watch it fully on the phone.

The typhoon is not bad in playing the audio files either. You can play mp3/wma files in Windows Media Player. I usually encode the audio files into 64kbps WMA so that I can carry more files. The following screenshots show the WMP 10 screen while playing a song.

Windows Media Player playing a WMA file

Apart from WMP, you also have a host of other 3rd party freeware multimedia applications like PocketTV, Betaplayer etc., which are also very good.

PocketTV playing a movie (not in full screen mode)

If there happens to be an incoming call while you are listening to music, WMP automatically pauses the music and resumes when your call is over. If there is an incoming SMS, the volume automatically decreases and resumes to normal when you have viewed/read the message. A nice touch.

miniSD Card

File Manager showing the storage card.


The miniSD card is not hot swappable, because it is hidden beneath the battery compartment. So you have to remove the battery to change the miniSD card, which is a pain. Currently, miniSD cards are available up to 1 GB of capacity. You can carry quite a lot of movies, songs and office documents with such capacity.

Internet

The PDA optimized Yahoo! portal

This is my favorite thing on the typhoon. The pocket IE and the mail client on the phone are very usable. Though it works well with PDA optimized websites, any website can be displayed in a single column mode or default mode. See the screenshots below.

The PDA optimized Slashdot home page

Coming to the mail client part, I could successfully configure Gmail using POP3/SMTP settings and could send and receive e-mails with ease.

Opera

The champion web browser – Opera, is also available for the Smartphone platform, but it is still in alpha stage. It is quite useful though. I have noticed that it does not display many websites properly, when in small screen rendering mode. A good example is my favorite gadget site http://www.engadget.com/. These quirks will surely be fixed when the final version is out. True to Opera’s spirit, even this tiny browser has a multi document interface (MDI), meaning you can browse multiple sites at the same time (no tabs though. Only window numbers.)

Camera
Hmmm… what to say? Cameras on mobile phones are still improving (For example the latest N series from Nokia). The camera on the typhoon is far better than the one I had on my A760. The resolution is VGA, but the quality leaves a lot to be desired. This is no fault of the typhoon as the optics for camera phones of most mainstream phones have not reached the quality of even the cheapest DigiCam that you find in the market. Below are some of the best shots my wife managed to get on this.


Santro Monkey


Misty mountain in Kodaikanal

Sunset (Taken from car. Notice the rear view mirror)

Video Recording
You can also record video, but at a much lower resolution though. The quality, needless to say is, mediocre.

MSN Messenger
This is something I don’t use on my mobile phone. My IM client of choice is the Yahoo! Messenger. I noticed that Yahoo! Messenger is available for US customers through the portals from the operators, but could not download it.

XBar 2.6

XBar

Though this is not a standard application, it is a must for any Windows based mobile phone. This tiny application provides ALT-TAB like switching between many applications. Microsoft does not provide ‘exit’ option for any of the standard applications. The application/memory management is left to the OS, but at times you could see that you are not able to start an application because of less availablility of RAM. You can easily kill applications using this utility. It is very actively supported by the author. Refer to the XBar website for more details. Incidentally, XBar even displays the ambient temperature!

Build Quality
Build quality is excellent. I have dropped it many times on tile flooring and once even on a cement flooring. Absolutely no visible damage has been caused so far by my carelessness.

Battery Life
The unit has a very decent battery life. Lasts upto 2 days with normal usage. But expect the battery life to be much shorter in case you are playing mp3s/video files quite often. Heavy usage of internet could also affect battery life to a large extent. A good feature of the phone is that it can get trickle charged through the USB cable. So while you keep your phone synchronized, you can also keep it charging!

Conclusion
Needless to say, the typhoon is widely regarded as the best Smartphone ever. Apart from a few minor quirks, you get a top notch cellphone with the best multimedia and internet capabilities. Now it is retailing in India for the price of around Rs. 19,000 (approx US$ 430). Go for it ! It is also available as the O2 Xphone in India. A new model with better looks and slight hardware improvements is also now available for almost the same price. (Called o2 Xphone II). Or if you can wait for a while, save some money for Windows Mobile 5 based phones. Expect these phones by August/September this year!

Disclaimer

Upgrading the ROM on a phone is a risky business. A small mistake and you can easily end up with a damaged phone – which can only be used as a paperweight later. After reading this article, if you attempt to upgrade the ROM, be aware that you are doing it at your own risk and the author of this article is in no way responsible for any damages caused to you or your phone.

Update: 21 Feb 2007. It almost 2 years and surprised that still many people are interested in this phone! To all of you who are planning to purchase this phone: Though it is a great phone, it is now little outdated. Note that it is running Windows Mobile 2003, while the current release is Windows Mobile 2006 or WM 6. There are plenty of new models from HTC itself, which you can consider.

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57 thoughts on “Review of the Krome iQ700 Windows Mobile based Smartphone

  1. Hi Jaganath,

    The review was excellent. But, there are a couple of things you missed out to describe about Bluetooth and Infrared file transfer capability.
    On the basis of this review just 3 days back i had bought the phone and now after working on it have realised that their is no way to transfer files from Krome to other phones or computer via bluetooth, the only way to trasfer the files to computer is through active sync and even for transfering files through infrared u have to use file explorer which is not very handy to use.

    Also for receving files via bluetooth from other phones u have to pair it first and only then can recv. files, which is not possible always.

  2. Jaganath & Anonymous, thanks s ton for this detailed and informative review.

    Guess user review blogs are increasingly becoming an integral part of online product research.

    Could you guys tell me how much you bought this mobile for?

    Can i install yahoo mssgr on this mobile? Does is support java?

  3. Thanks Muthu,

    At the time of purchase (May 2004), it cost me 22k. Now it is selling for around 16k.

    Yes, it does support Java and Yahoo messenger. Yahoo Messenger does not come as a standard install, but it is available on the net.

  4. jaganath,

    hi….i have a krome iq 700 (india) … with windows 2003 se…i would like to uprage it 2 windows 2005…i find in this post u have mentioned about the upgrade…..but since i am a novice i am not able to it meself with confidence…i will appreciate your help…it would be great if u can send me the rom and nbf tool..and a detailed guide for the upgrade…

    thanks a lot in advance..

  5. Devesh,
    I cannot write a detailed guide as I do not have this phone anymore. But all the information is available on the net. Check this forum for more info: http://www.spv-developers.com/forum/forumdisplay.php?f=25

    But a word of caution: IF YOU ARE A NOVICE, DON’T DO IT. Since WM5 for Typhoon is not officially supported, there are no standard installers available. You have to do a lot of techie things to install this. I did this once, but when I tried to downgrade, I ended up bricking the phone. It cost me $40 to bring it back to life. So I would strongly recommend not to do it. If you want WM5, exchange your present phone for i-mate SP5. Its a great phone. Sure it costs more money, but it is defintely worth it.

  6. Hi Jaganath,

    thanks for the word of caution..i tried the above link and ended learning that its not for me..as i barely understand the techie job posted here.

    But…do you know someone in Mumbai who can do this for me at a cost.

    Thanks

  7. Jaganath – thanks, awesome review. Can you tell me how the hands free function works? I am unable to use it in my phone. I also have the problem that when I connect with GPRS, the phone does not disconnect from the service though it shows it has and I get billed for usage. So many times I put of the phone and then restart.

  8. Amrish,

    To activate the speaker phone, just press and hold the green phone button till the speaker icon shows up on the top. You can do this while a call is in progress to activate the speaker.

    Similarly press and hold the home button to get the option to disconnect GPRS. No need to restart the phone. Unfortunately these small things are not mentioned in the KROME manual.

  9. Hi Jaganath,

    Thanks for the reply. Holding the green button down when a call is in progress works so that’s great, however did not work when the phone was not in use?

    Also wrt GPRS, yes I knew of holding down the home button to get this option but it doesn’t work. Just got a bill for internet usage covering 6 hours continuous! – i think there is a fault with my instrument.

    Finally, is there a quick way to activate blue tooth as I have a blue tooth hands free option in the car which I use to connect with the phone when in the car?

    Your command over this phone is awesome – may come back with more questions 🙂

    Thanks and Cheers, Amrish.

  10. hi Jaganath,
    Thanks for sharing a superb review. Ok the reason i have written, i have a problem, my battery is dead. i asked for a new battery but they said it is not available in the market. can you help me to know where can i get a new battery? Yeah i forgot to mention that i have Krome IQ 200.

    thanks and regards, Fiona

  11. @Fiona.
    ebay, perhaps?

    Or check with Krome dealers if you are in India.

    @Amrish,

    Some one wrote a small tool called BT Toggle. Just Google for it. Once you install this, you can assign it to one of the keys. Long press the key and your BT turns ON or OFF. Great app. I used it while I had the phone.

    BTW, I sold this phone about 8 months ago. I am using a O2 mini S (HTC Wizard) now.

  12. how san i intall different software in my moble model krome iq200.

    i want smart movie player for krome iq200.

  13. Hey Jaganath,

    Guess what – I lost my phone! Someone flicked it telling the cafe waiter it was his and by the time i realised and got back to the cafe it was gone. Worse off is that I am in Australia and do not think this thief can get a charger for it? Anyways since I had liked the phone wondering what I should convert to? Any suggestions? I can wait and get a Krome from India too – is there a new better model?

    Basic needs are office email (through internet browser), sync with Outlook, speaker phone, blue tooth for car, calendar features to sync with outlook again, good vibration as I keep phone mainly on this setting and good easy to press and use keys like the iQ700 and finally not heavier or bigger than iQ700.

    Thanks Mate, Amrish.

  14. @amrish

    Sorry to hear that you lost the phone. It sure attracts many an eye.

    Anyways, if you are looking for a replacement, consider i-mate sp5 or sp5m. Both are available in India from i-mate retailers. I think you can get it in Aus too. It is an updated version of the iq 700 with WM5, Wi-Fi, EDGE etc., You wont be disappointed. The main diff., between sp5 and sp5m is that the former is meant for business users while the latter is for regular users. sp5 has special buttons for e-mails etc., while sp5m has special buttons for music playback. Otherwise both have the same hardware specs.

  15. @jaganath

    Hi first of all its asupreb review… i am a big fan of windows mobiles….. i have o2 xphone II rite now…… its getting me complaints for the joy stick coz its a stick as i use it breaks down….. now the joy is completly useles… so i was wondering should i buy this or voq from sierra… wat would u suggest?

  16. Can neone suggest me where to buy a body cover for my Krome IQ 700? Lots of scratches over the phone, since i luv my phone i dnt wnt to sell, so please find me an option to get the new body for new look.. and the 5 way navigator key is loosed, pl give suggestions

  17. @Siba
    yes. It is possible. There is a hacked rom floating around. Check XDA or SPV developers forum. [Use Google]. But note that it is illegal and you are voiding your warranty.

    @Tushar.
    I do not know. Maybe you can search in ebay.

    @Archana
    No. There is no version of MS Office Mobile or pocket money for MS Smartphone as of now. You can view office documents like word, pppt etc., with Westek Clearvue suite.

  18. Hi Jagan..

    A very great review indeed!! Recently only i started knowing abt smartphones since earlier i was not that interested. And I came to know that Krome IQ200 is available at a price around 6k-7k. I would like to know ur opinion abt this phone..Is it useful if i buy this? Does it differ much in performance..since noth RAM as well as processor speed is less when compared to IQ700… pls suggest..

    Sunil

  19. For all those enquiring abt iq700/200:

    This model is now outdated.As you can see, I wrote this review almost 2 yrs back. 2 years is like 2 decades in the smartphone world. There are a large number of new models in the market.Pls check them out. The original OS running on iq700/iq200 is Windows Mobile 2003. There are two more operating system releases after this!! That will tell you how outdated it is.

  20. dear jaganath, plz tell me can i upgrade my iq700 to new rom, not to wm5, but a rom with windows media 10 ??
    If yes tell me where to find the compatible upgrade ??
    i m a novice, plz guide me on this

  21. i have a krome iq200 can u tell me how to reset the phone as i did pressing camera capture and on/off switch simultaneosuly and then press a button to proceed and then i could c there layers where smartphone and version is been written then its dosent move further can u help me out

  22. hello ,
    I syed Talha, I am having a problem while charging my cell I-mate sp3, as my battery is completely dead, the pc sync is n’t recognising it. PLZ suggest some alternatives.

  23. Goodday

    I can buy this phone for 75 euro NEW would you stil recomended it for this price

    regards Erik.

  24. hi
    Am using intellect 200 and would like to buy 700, am based in bombay, any idea where this phone is available?
    Also, need to service my old phone, some keys get stuck, number of the authorised service agent?
    thanks a ton!!

  25. hello, please can some body help send thruogh my email the translation of this nokiae301 siba,i cant read the shit this china white boys wrote,cant they doing the manuals in english and their china language hu

  26. Dear Sir,

    I have Krome IQ 200. My device is locked and is asking for digital signature. I am looking for service center in Mumbai. Can you provide me the contact details so that I can send it there for repairs.

    Indraneil

  27. hi i am vicky from delhi india
    plz if possible tell me how to get the settings and what are the settings for using internet on this phone krome intellekt 700

  28. Sir i want the address of service centre of KROME I Q- 700, GSM IN Jaipur, Delhi, Bombay.
    thanks.

    My self Satish Khandaka mobile no. 9829063163-9314501235.
    JAIPUR

  29. Can someone provide me the address of Krome Service Centre in India (I prefer Delhi & bangalore).

    Since the SW of Krome 200 IQ is very limited, is there any chance of upgrading the OS to higher version (like window mobile ver. 5) and if so pliz tell me the procedure.

    thanks

  30. hi
    Am using intellect 200 and would like to buy 700, am based in Nandurbar, any idea where this phone is available?
    Also, need to service my old phone, number of the authorised service agent?
    thanks a ton!!

  31. Dear,

    Pl if any body can tell me to upgarde the OS of my IQ 700 to 6.1.

    And how to sync with Vista I have downloaded the WMDC. it gets connected but sync fails every time i tried.

    Thanks and regards,

    Sandeep Sharma.

  32. Hi, I had Krome iq700 in 2006 and lost it in Thane. Tried to trace it but no luck.

    At present am using Samsung Omnia but would still like to use iq700 as a secondary phone.

    Can you tell me where can I buy this phone in Mumbai. I don’t mind used phone in good condition.

    Reply immediately on 9987010006.

    Thanks
    PS

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