By January 12, 2009

O2 XDA Zest review

New on the scene and the latest in the XDA range, we find the XDA O2 Zest. Can it live up to O2 claim that ‘The Xda Zest is a sleek, slim and stylish phone bursting with friendly features.’?

Firstly this is not one of the much followed and much awaited new devices, if fact I had never heard of it until that regular contact where Matt is looking for a review to be done. This is one of the only XDA type devices not to be made by HTC, being a derivative of the Asus Galaxy 7.

The O2 XDA Zest


I have been playing with the Zest for a week or so now, and these are my thoughts so far…


First looking inside the neat looking and unusually tidy box you’ll find:

  • the O2 XDA Zest
  • A spare stylus
  • A three part AC adaptor
  • USB to mini USB cable to sync and charge, also used with the above adaptor
  • A stereo headset with mini use connector
  • An unusual ‘Y- cable’
  • A quick start guide and CD, warranty card
  • Included in this test unit, the optional Co-pilot micro card and SD adaptor 14 day trial.

The AC adaptor and ‘Y – cable I will cover shortly.


O2 XDA Zest specification:

  • Windows Mobile 6.1
  • Marvell TavorP 624MHz processor
  • Quad band GSM/GPRS/EDGE
  • 2.8” 65K TFT VGA 480X640
  • 3 Megapixel camera
  • 256 MB Flash Memory ROM
  • 128 MB SDRAM
  • MicroSD slot (up to 32GB support)
  • Bluetooth 2.0+EDR
  • Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g
  • GPS
  • 1300 mAh Battery
  • 102×60.5×16.5mm



Taking a wander around the Zest on the top there is the power button and the housing for the non telescopic stylus.

XDA Zest top view


The left hand side is the home to a covered external GPS connector, and a single button, up and down volume rocker

XDA Zest left side


On the right hand side is a dedicated camera button and also a screen and manual key lock switch.

XDA Zest right side


The bottom of the Zest there is only the miniUSB connector, reset hole and strap holder,

XDA Zest bottom view


Around the back the simplicity continues with only the 3 Megapixel camera and speaker slot,

XDA Zest back view


And finally on the business end of the phone is, from top to bottom, an LED indicator light next to the front facing VGA camera for video calling etc., the earpiece and the 2.8” flush screen.

XDA Zest front view


Below which is 4 illuminated, when touched buttons, one for the Start menu, one ‘OK’ and the normal green send and red end keys. In the middle of which is housed the up/down/left/right directional, navigation key and enter key.

The device itself is unusual, in that it is very shiny, very black and very plastic. At first it feels quite nice to the touch and the metal accents set it off quite nicely, however after a very short amount of time you realise that it is slightly too wide, as well as slightly too thick and therefore makes it uncomfortable to hold. When set against my Diamond it is slightly shorter, nearly 10mm wider, and 5mm thicker. To me it does look dumpy and squat, yet thick and chunky, not the best start.


  • Sharp clear screen
  • Very quick and responsive
  • Very stable
  • Good camera
  • Loaded with user features


  • Uncomfortable to hold and use
  • Poor sound quality
  • Over complicated


I will try and explain my highlights and lowlights here, they do contradict themselves, for the reason that, if you are used to Window Mobile and SpB Mobile shell, this device has the lot, well at least O2’s customised versions. The highlight is that it gives you loads of choice in the way of ‘Today’ and other screens, the downside or lowlight is that for me it completely overcomplicates the issue. I may have been missing something but deciding to rotate the screen to use the Sat Nav turned into a 5 minute ordeal flicking through menus to find out how to do this and when I did finally get the hang of it, you can only turn 90 degrees clockwise and then back again not left hand/right hand. I use my phones with the buttons on the right when in landscape, as I am right handed, not on this phone not an option without adaptations.

That said there are is plethora of menus, sub-menus to keep you entertained, if you are new to windows mobile, I think this phone could well put you off in terms of its complexity.

Software wise it is pretty standard 6.1 with the addition of O2’s menus.

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Pick a screen any screen…..

The included 14 day trial of CoPilot 7 worked well and showed off the capability of the sharp clear screen and the very capable processor.


This device for me has been one of the hardest one to review, not knowing a lot about it in the first place and not having chance to get used to it beforehand, it has proved to be very good in some areas and not that good in others.

As already mentioned the screen is a major plus point the 480×640 is a gem, I did find though, that despite being calibrated, I quite often missed the lines I was trying to tap and ended up hitting the line above. At first I thought it was me, but as it happened regularly and despite recalibrating more than once, I conclude it could be down to the appearance of a decent gap between the actual screen and the screen covering. The camera is pretty good and has to be considered better than average in its sector, and I must admit it got better when I realised that it has a small plastic lens protector in place, underneath the cover, when sent, so don’t forget to take it off!

I really like the screen lock switch that shuts the phone down, having been used to this on my Asus P526; I really don’t know why more devices don’t include this as standard, so no accidental button presses or call answering here, as the phone is locked down completely. One really small point here is that, for me, although I do like this feature it is slightly too close to the stylus housing and quite often while trying to remove the stylus, without looking, found I was trying to pull out the switch instead, but a nice inclusion anyway.

The charger is a slightly strange affair, I think it might have been a slow day in the design office when they dreamt this up, it is made up of a block into which you insert the miniUSB cable, and then attach one of the 2 regional plug adaptors which have fold out terminals, very strange, I can’t help think they have been over designed and if done to save space, have failed. What’s wrong with a standard wall charger?

The next anomaly for the Zest is the inclusion of the ‘Y – cable’ this connects to the miniUSB port on the bottom of the unit and acts as a splitter to allow connection of both charge/sync cable as well as the headset. I have not seen this before and although I get the idea and can see why it have been included, I remain unconvinced, it is a good idea, but surely a simpler solution would be to include a 3.5mm socket instead, the Zest is certainly thick enough to house one!

The processor is great, it is an unheard of Marvell TavorP 624MHz, which works very well and definitely one of the better ones about, it certainly pack a punch in delivering speed. The phone I also found to be software stable, it is only while writing this that I realised I have not reset the Zest, at all, since I have been playing with it.

The gripes I have with the XDA is that the battery is not fantastic, it tends to drain quite freely, lasting about a day with moderate use, less with heavy use. It reminds me of the diamond, and this is neither devices’ best feature.

The calls quality, I found also, was not great, the speakers either internal or loud sounded crackly and not at all pleasant, it does get better with a good and clear reception, but in bad conditions it did not fare well at all, one of the worst I have heard for a long time, maybe particular to this test device though?



I have to admit and you can probably tell this is not one of my favourite devices that I have tested over the last few years, it has the potential to be very good and hopefully I have highlighted some really strong plus points. Overall, for me, the strange, uncomfortable size and the negatives, mentioned already, outweigh the positives, and for that reason this is not on my Xmas list.

Don’t get me wrong, it is quick, stable, and full featured, and hopefully the faults that I found are test device specific. The overall spec and screen coupled with that processor do make it very good value for money. Just not for me.


Review by: Steve

Posted in: Reviews

About the Author:

More than 20 years in the IT industry. Blogging with a passion and thirst for new technology since 2005.
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