By March 21, 2007

Qtek 8500 review

Regular readers may remember the competition we held back in December where we gave away about 40 different prizes in the run up to Christmas. One of those prizes was a Qtek 8500 (aka HTC StrTrk) which was won by Mark.

Mark decided to write a review of the Qtek 8500 and sent it over to me. So without further ado, here is Marks review:

Having won the 12 days of Christmas Qtek 8500 prize, I thought I’d write a short (but belated) review of the device, as a thank you to the site.

Qtek 8500

The HTC Star trek was one of the more eagerly anticipated Windows Mobile Smartphones, and was probably given more web-forum time than many other devices before or since. The HTC Star Trek is also known as the Qtek 8500 or the I-Mate Smartflip. The prize itself and the basis for review is the Qtek 8500. This new device from HTC has a fairly recognizable slick design and unique looking keypad, which at the time was exclusive to the model.

Qtek 8500 keypad

The first impression you get of this device is somehow strange. Although the 8500 has a wide keypad, it’s not actually that easy to type out a SMS with one hand. The keypad is, if anything, too big! Unfortunately the flat buttons also ensure that you cannot type blindly. This is not a good phone for speed texting!

Another bad point to get out of the way first is the lack of mini-usb. This phone has a new plug type which I don’t believe has a name. I’ve certainly not seen it before, and it’s a real shame that HTC have gone proprietary with this device. I’m not sure if this is down to space or just an attempt at yet another ‘standard’.

Qtek 8500 Connector Qtek 8500 Connector

The phone is also limited to a 64MB ROM, which nowadays is a bit old school. However, the phone does perform well regardless. Having used a Smartphone right from the original Orange SPV, I’m well used to the “features” of certain Smartphone’s, but didn’t experience any lockups or slowdowns with the Qtek.

It actually seems a fairly well built bit of kit, and I’d certainly be hopeful of it surviving a clumsy butter-fingers moment!


The camera is 1.3 Megapixels in terms of quality, but don’t expect miracles. I’m not all that surprised – Smartphone’s aren’t known for their camera quality and in such a small frame, it was never going to be great. The standard “version 2” HTC camera app is included, and as usual, is jam packed full of features, many of which are missing from ‘dumb phones’. The various features and modes can help improve the photos taken, and a video mode is available, should you feel the need to take pointless clips for YouTube 😉 The photos themselves are stored in JPG format, the videos being MP4. The camera mode is also automatically suspended if not used, to save on battery life.

Qtek 8500 Camera

External Screen

Under the camera we find a rarity on a Smartphone – an external screen, on which all kinds of information can be shown. As well as a copy of the top status bar, the screen also gives you the time and date, and status of any incoming messages. Media player can also be controlled via the screen and external buttons. Finally the screen is also used as a ‘mirror’ when taking self pics with the clamshell closed. The screen is genuinely useful, and a really good addition to clamshell Smartphone’s. There are some slight bugbears with it – for example the screens seem to be locked together – if you press an external button to turn the external screen on, the internal screen will also light up. I’m not sure why, but it’s a bit of a battery waste.

Qtek 8500

Internal screen
The internal layout of the open clamshell is pretty standard – large screen up top, buttons down the bottom. The internal QVGA Screen is actually very impressive. Colours seem really vivid, and it’s one of the best screens I’ve seen on a Smartphone. Closing the shell, the springs fire the two sides back together, with two rubber grips used to lessen the bump somewhat.


OK, let’s get the good point out of the way – the keypad does look good. However, it’s really hard to use! It’s actually too big to use properly, even typing numbers is taxing using one hand, and SMS is really hard work, not just because of the size – but the age old thin-phone problem of a flat keypad. It’s not tactile, so blind texting is a no no.
Other than that, the keyboard is Smartphone standard – with two soft keys either side, and the normal Home and Back keys.

Qtek 8500 keypad

It’s also worth noting that the keypad is automatically locked when the shell is closed.

The sides of the phone are home to the volume controls, and a camera button. The flat-Mini USB port is also located on the side. The new style plug is a pain for any Smartphone veterans – yet another set of cables to source and buy.

Qtek 8500 Buttons Qtek 8500 Buttons

This device very quick! I’ve used a large variety of different Smartphone’s, and this is right up there, if not the fastest I’ve used. This was surprising for me, as the phone only comes with 64mb ROM and a 200 MHz processor. Changing between applications is very fast and by starting up several applications at once, and really pushing it, the phone still copes admirably. The processor seems to work very well, even with applications which perhaps take up a greater percentage of resources, such as the camera. Equally the phone functions also perform well.

Memory Card Slot
The phone takes micro-sd, which again, appears to be a new, but fairly common standard. Unfortunately once again the card slot is located under the battery. I believe micro-sd cards are now available up to 4gig, making this a great mp3 player replacement.

Qtek 8500 insides

Speaker and hands free
The speaker is pretty good really. As a veteran used to the problems with the Orange SPV E200 for example, most speakers are passable (!), but it is really clear and I was perfectly happy with it.

The headset again, is pretty much HTC standard, but with the annoying flat-mini-usb connector. It’s low cost and feels cheap, but works as well as any other Smartphone hands free.

The phone looks great. While there are still problems (its size is still too big), its brought Smartphone’s a lot closer to being “cool” in the Nokia-fans sense of the word. Whether you think that is a good or bad thing, I guess is up to you.

Qtek 8500 half open

The battery is rated to 750mAh and really does an excellent job. Compared with other devices I’ve used – it lasts ages, I guess due to the fact keys don’t get knocked, and when not used, the screen stays off. Obviously turning on Bluetooth/GPRS and using the phone functions does limit the battery life, but I was still very surprised at how long it took to discharge, as the battery is so small.

As far as I can tell, the software is completely HTC standard, and Qtek have added nothing to the ROM. Outlook and Activesync is included as normal on an accompanying cd, but software wise, the package is rather limited.

Positive points

  • Very fast
  • Very flat!
  • External screen
  • “Cool” look
  • Bluetooth present
  • Good multimedia properties
  • Great battery life
  • Negative

  • No Wi-Fi
  • Strange connection, non Mini-USB
  • Micro-SD card is under the battery
  • Only 64mb memory
  • Conclusion
    It’s a great phone, and a great prize. While it has its problems – the usb connector being a MASSIVE inconvenience, it look good, lasts days without charge, and feels expensive, and well built. I’m really quite surprised that the device isn’t more popular. Maybe this one passed under the noses of a lot of the Smartphone community, since it didn’t get an operator branding in some major markets? Available now from eXpansys.


    [Post tag(s): , , , , , ]

    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.
    Loading Facebook Comments ...

    Post a Comment

    No Trackbacks.