By August 3, 2007

UBiQUiO 503G review

Another review from Mark, this time the UBiQUiO 503G.

The device is the very first non-HTC Windows Mobile device I’ve ever used. Naturally, as I nearly end up throwing my Hermes device out of the window at times, I was eager to try it.

I must point out that I am reviewing a pre-production unit here. There are a number of issues with the unit, which I’ll address; but these are apparently known faults and I have been assured that they will be resolved in the final retail build of the device.

UBiQUiO 503G Front

UBiQUiO 503G Front

Design-wise the UBiQUiO 503G looks similar to the iMate JAQ3 (both are manufactured by TechFaith Wireless). In fact the keyboard looks identical.

On the left side of the device you’ll find a scroll wheel, voice notes or voice navigator button and a button for the camera.

UBiQUiO 503G Left Side

UBiQUiO 503G Left Side

To the right you have you’ll find nothing more than a microSD card slot under a rubber cover that seems to have become standard amoung WM devices.

UBiQUiO 503G Right Side

UBiQUiO 503G Right Side

When powering up the unit, there is one “feature” that immediately jumps out at you – the screen. It’s brilliantly bright, clear and the colours are exceptional. Even my acid-test of a converted YouTube video looks great on it. The 503G wipes the floor with any device I’ve used. This extends to the touch screen functionality as well. It’s very very sensitive, with only the lightest tap enough to activate whichever control you are targetting. Similarly, it seems highly accurate at well.

Running Windows Mobile 6 Professional, also means you get all the usual niceties with the newer applications, gradient taskbars, and… annoying Customer Satifaction rubbish from Microsoft!

The UBiQUiO 503G itself reminds me a little of a scientific calculator. It’s very thin, has a lot of buttons, and is a similar shape too. It is made of plastic, but doesn’t look or feel like it. A brushed metal look is used throughout – apart from a chrome directional pad. There’s no joystick or trackball to be found here – but the direction pad seems fine to me. However, there is currently a problem with the pad, and indeed the QWERTY keyboard as well. While most keys work fine, feel sturdy and give a nice click sound – there are a few troublesome ones which don’t always fire. I’ve been assured that this is a known fault, and well definately NOT affect the final retail device.

UBiQUiO 503G Keyboard

UBiQUiO 503G Keyboard

I very much like the use of a touchscreen with a keyboard as well. It just seems the best solution for a “use anywhere” approach – and although slightly larger than its Blackberry competition, I think it pulls this off rather well. It’s also possible, after practise, to use the device keyboard with just one hand. Certainly useful at times to me, and I’m sure to quite a few people.

Unlike operator-branded kit, and indeed HTC, UBiQUiO don’t appear to have added any of their own software to the mix. It looks to be a fairly plain Microsoft install of WM6. This is either a good thing or a bad thing depending on your outlook I guess. I certainly don’t hold it against the device. Not even a today plugin is included – beyond the WM defaults. As you might expect though, all the today plugins I tried worked fine.

There’s another couple of oddities about the device I should bring your attention too; firstly, CAB files designed to put Operator specific connections and so on, onto HTC devices, don’t seem to work. I couldn’t work out why this is. I used the HTC windows .exe installer, selected Orange UK, and it all downloaded and installed OK via Activesync. Indeed, the connections are even listed correctly on the device but they simply do not work, and just hang when connecting. This is strange, especially as setting up seemingly the same connection manually works fine!

As well as this, the device seems to only want to charge from its own AC charger – and not any of my old mini-usb chargers (usually sourced from HTC devices). This is slightly annoying, as I have gotten used to not having to remember to take chargers with me! It doesn’t even seem be able to run from AC power, unless using the one supplied!



Aside from these minor issues, the UBiQUiO 503G is good. It’s very quick, and seems to handle full screen MP4 videos fine and copes just well with anything else thrown at it. The form factor seems to fit my hand quite nicely, and although it’s fairly large in some respects, it’s so thin that it fits nicely in the pocket.

The integrated WiFi is nice on any device, and certainly a bonus on a device that genuinely can be used for useable web access. The 503 connects quickly to the WiFi point I have at home and performs very well. Along side this, is full HSPDA 3G connectivity. Whether Orange have enabled HSDPA in my area yet, I’m not sure, but the device absolutely flies, both in PIE and Opera and my email arrives VERY quickly.

It’s always hard to judge whether a WM device is easy to use or not, because I’m so used to the OS now. I certainly don’t see any major problems here though. If I was being picky – I’d say having the full stop on a secondary function on the keyboard is a mistake though!

As I’ve said – the device is fussy about how it charges – but it does have a standard Mini-USB socket.. and… wait for it… a normal 2.5″ earphone jack!! Round the corner from this, you’ll find a Micro-SD slot, with nice rubber cover so no need to remove the battery to change cards!

The 2 megapixel camera is about what you’d expect for a phone this size…. not bad, but no digital camera replacement. Phone-wise, calls were good quality, better than I’m used to I think, and it seemed to keep a signal is the area I live very well.

UBiQUiO 503G Camera

UBiQUiO 503G Camera

Despite the ‘issues’ with this pre-production version I would still recommend the UBiQUiO 503G and once the problems have been resolved in the retail version it has all the potential to be a killer. I’ll be following up the review with an update just as soon as I can get my hands on the retail build!

As a final note for Gilbert, who asked about Program and Storage space. Currently, the UBiQUiO 503G shows the following memory usage:

Total: 192.00 MB
In Use: 158.05 MB (!!)
Free: 33.95 MB

This is down to the pre-release rom build. The ‘fluff’ will be removed from the final retail ROM build.

UBiQUiO 503G

UBiQUiO 503G

UBiQUiO 503G Specification

  • Windows Mobile 6 Professional
  • AKU 3.5.0
  • GSM850, GSM900, GSM1800, GSM1900, UMTS850, UMTS1900, UMTS2100
  • 520 MHz Intel 270 CPU
  • 1.9-megapixel CMOS camera
  • 2.4-inch 320×240-pixel LCD Touchscreen 262K colours
  • 192MB ROM, 96MB RAM
  • SDIO, microSD expansion slot
  • Stereo Bluetooth 1.2 with A2DP
  • WiFi 802.11b/802.11g
  • 1250 mAh Battery
  • 65 x 123 x 15.7mm
  • 150 grams
  • You can order the UBiQUiO 503G now from eXpansys for just £389.95.

    Review by: Mark

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    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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