Been researching quite abit on the close battle between the 2 powerhouse phones, the Sony Ericsson P990i & the Dopod 838 Pro (HTC Hermes aka O2 XDA Trion aka Qtek 9600 whatever the rebranding). Both costing at least $1000 & representing the motherload of current consumer technology. I am still on the deciding stage so do drop down any comments/recomendations if any.

Sony Ericsson P990i
Dopod 838 Pro (aka HTC Hermes)

More me, though it seems that the SE P990i seems to have the more cool factors & hardware functions, I am tending to lean more towards the Dopod side now, mainly because than I am a current Pocket PC user on a Dell Axim X50v, thus being more familar with the OS & able to run my favorite existing games, file explorers, notetakers & MP3 Players on it, futhermore SD cards are one of my most commonly used medias, & a MicroSD card can easily be compatible with all my full sized SD slot deviced with the adaptor, unlike MS Duo.

Here are the dissected advantages & disadvantages to consider:

P990i Advantages:

  • FM Radio
  • Friendlier User Interface
  • More in-box accessories (like desktop charger, etc)
  • Has all the possible ways to input text (KB, VKV, KP, Handwrite)
  • Allows Touch Typing via Numeric keypad
  • Seemingly better Camera (Cybershot Similar) Interface (Samples)
  • Autofocus Camera with Marco & Semi-Pro Functions
  • Looks, feels & uses more like a phone
  • Lighter in weight 150g
  • MS Duos Up to 8GB (4GB Max in market currently)
  • More solid, have Sony Ericsson reknowned quality build, class & feel
  • Has Cool removable Flip (Review)
  • Revised new Symbian UIQ3.0 OS
  • 262k Colour screen
  • Very cool full Backlighting for KB & Numeric Keys
  • Known better & reputable after sales & city repair service (SG side dependant)

P990i Disadvantages:

  • Larger volume 114x57x26mm dimensions
  • Shorter battery Life
  • Symbian OS UIQ3.0 don’t have much good expandable 3rd party software
  • Incompatible with older Symbian UIQ applications
  • Not the most user-friendly to install SIS/Jar Applications
  • PC Sync is not one of the best & convenient
  • Wi-fi up to Wireless-B (11Mps) Networks
  • Smaller screen at same res
  • Non-universal external media (MS Duo format mostly for Sony products only)
  • Slightly more expensive (about $100-$200 more than the Dopod)
  • No EDGE support
  • Records video with a QVGA 320×240 pixels resolution at 15FPS MAX
  • No 3.5mm audio Jack
  • Need adaptor for PC-sync, Music & no direct Mini-USB port charging
  • Stylus placed on left side?
  • Limited onboard games & software (what you get out of box is more or less what you have)
Dopod 838 Pro Advantages:

  • More familiar Windows 5.0 OS
  • Useful & discreet slide out keyboard
  • Smaller volume 113x58x22mm dimensions
  • Longer & Bigger battery (1350mah to 1120mah)
  • Better contacts/email sync via ActiveSync & Outlook
  • Extremely software expandable (plenty MP3 Players/Games in market)
  • MicroSD format more compatible with more common SD slot devices with adaptor (than MS Duo)
  • Higher Video capture framerate (QVGA 30FPS, Samples)
  • Photos are sharper than the p990i
  • Camera Marco Mode
  • Faster 400Mhz Samsung Processor (to the P990i ARM9)
  • Bigger, more comfortable QWERTY keyboard
  • Quad-Band for various US/Europe Networks
  • HSDPA 3.5G Networks
  • Up to Wireless-G (54Mbps) Networks
  • Larger screen at same res
  • Relatively Cheaper
  • Plug & play through any Mini-USB port

Dopod 838 Pro Disadvantages:

  • No Radio!
  • Dumb MicroSD card format instead of fullsized SD (Adaptor Nightmare)
  • MicroSD only up to 1GB capacity mainstream (with 2GB anounced only recently)
  • Heavier (176g)
  • Wasted space at keyboard Sides
  • Not all front hardware buttons are backlighted (only softkeys, answer, hangup lighted)
  • Talking is like holding an “N-gage” to your head
  • Longer (2second+) shutter lag between shots
  • Camera No Autofocus
  • 65k Colour screen
  • No 3.5mm Audio Jack
  • Longtime OEM, HTC, has to establish its Dopod Housebrand, mostly unheard or new to the average consumer/layman.
  • Not much of a Wow! factor compared to SE phones (& quality too)
  • Not very spectacular & remote after sales & repair service center (SG side dependant)

I didn’t touch on common features like Bluetooth (with A2DP & Audio Remote support), IrDA, Wifi, 128MB ROM/64MB RAM, Jogdial keys , no-software filesize limit, top flashing indictor lights, LED flash, being a “USB-mass-storage device” when PC-plugged & the 2MegaPixel camera as they are all common features. But I guess it’s the flexiblity built into the Windows OS which currently won me over. That is important as I can ultilise more features of the device with new upgraded software or registry changes given the nature of the Win Mobile OS, something the Symbian side can’t really do without risky flashing or hacking.

The lowdown is generally: Get the P990i if you want a phone with PDA functions OR Get the Dopod 838 Pro if you want a PDA with phone functions.

22 COMMENTS

  1. Hey Shaun,

    4 questions if u dun mind:

    1) can kindly confirm at 320 x 240, Dopod can capture video at 30fps ? compared to P990i’s 15 fps at same resolution.
    2) how long can dopod battery last if I were to read word documents for three hours continuously?
    3) when web browsing in landscape mode in dopod, can the jog wheel button still works for scrolling up and down.
    4) does Dopod hang often since it’s using WM5 ?
    4) hey, I tot P990i has better camera ?

    Xie xie ni.

    Rgds
    Ami

  2. Hi Ami,
    In response to yr questions:

    1) From the P990i official whitepaper video Max QVGA (320 x 240) 15fps, 30fps at QQVGA (quarter, quarter VGA) & lower resolutions
    Dopod 838 Pro video at 20fps QVGA resolutions, (correction not 30fps), however, the dopod registry CAN be hacked with 3rd software to capture at higher res & FPS, but its largely hardware limited, so don’t expect VGA res 30fps (DO AT YOUR OWN RISK!)

    2) 3 hours is definately not a problem with .doc files stored in your Dopod, provided wifi, bluetooth OFF & screen brightness MINIMUM. 40 minutes of MP3, regular email checks, 30mins & surfing via wifi & 30+ minutes of calls, messaging, random notetaking at end of one day can leave you with about 40-50% battery life.

    3) Yes, even in portrait mode too, & apps, menus, etc it will work exactly the same as a D-pad.

    4) Like all Windows Mobile Devices, it tends to always hang when you are out of ram. The dopod is no exception too. Soft resetting is a habit for me after every few days to clear the RAM, 64mb is jus too little.

    5) Technically & on-paper, the p990i camera beats the dopod. But its all about personal preferences, the p990i camera scores for the typical cybershot interface & spots autofocus, unlike the Dopod. But the dopod do produce comparitively sharper images of my liking & the colors actually appear richer. U can check out those review sites I listed for samples for comparison. After all, again it much depends on the individual preferences.

    Some updates on current prices:
    P990i $1388SGD no contract, Dopod $1066 with 2 year singtel plan

  3. Shaun,

    thanks for your reply. These two handphones will cost a bomb, so my ehemm.. madam only allows this one time chance to change my existing Motorola E680i to either the Dopod or P990i for the next 2 years.

    My requirement is simple, I just want to read lotsa of document notes becoz i’ll be moving around; so which one to choose, shd give me comfort when reading a word document with say 85 pages. Now, can either handhelds do just that ?

    Based on your experience Shaun, which one makes u feel comfortable when u read a Word document by holding in one hand ?

    Thanks !!

    Rgds
    Ami

  4. Reading documents I will strongly recommend windows based handhelds, so that will very much be the dopod I believe, given the options. Otherwise both have QVGA res for displays so what you can see “a-screenful” is the same, unless you get the year-old HTC universal aka dopod 900 costing about $1799SGD it has a gorgious VGA 640×480 screen similar to the dell axim X50v I am using personally, this means less horizontal scrolling, both running WM of course.

    The symbian OS on the P990i uses quick office or so to open, view & edit MS documents, let be pdf files so thats very much it is. Symbian OS is not built to read word documents in mind initially, well so was one of the problem the p800 had.

    If you are to open mainly MS office files, go for the windows mobile device. The expandablity WM devices has & allows more 3rd party programs to open documents & e-books, let be free WM e-book reader software widely available on the net as well. Both devices has jogdial so its egronomical already in that aspect.

    Some updates on current prices:
    P990i $1388SGD no contract, Dopod $1366 no contract
    (Prices from upcoming COMEX 2006 PC show)

  5. Hi,

    Could you guys comment on the audio quality of dopod 838 pro? Im thinking of getting either this or the hp rw6828 (with FM). But based on the revies that I have read on the rw6828, audio quality is an issue.

    Thnx!

  6. i just bought dopod 838 pro and have tested P990i until i made a u-turn and buy this awesome piece of gadget. dopod 838 pro works more and better than P990i, its a lot more faster and please look at dopod at a business point of view, it will serves you much more better.

  7. I am one of the first few proud owners of the P990i in S’pore , paid a hefty $1,400 for it. I must say that this phone is definitely not living up to expectations :cry:, not even fulfilling my basic expectations of a smartphone. 😡 I call the hotline like 5 times and visited the service center at Wisma a total of 4 times with a period of 10 days when I first used the phone , and the problems remain unresolved. The last they have done to my phone was to change the motherboard (they refused to change a new phone for me) , yet the same old problems arise. There is a long list of problems I am facing , just to name some of them as follows :-
    1. Auto-reboot halfway through a task (occurs like once every 2 days)
    2. PC sync does not work (corrupt my outlook with junk messages)
    3. Phone can stall suddenly , only way is to remove the battery to restart
    4. Slow response switching from one feature to another (eg navigating between messaging and phone calls)
    There are so many more problems that amazed me as I expect Sony Ericsson to be an experienced veteran in making mobile gadgets. I have written and emailed my complaints to the Service Center and it has been 3 weeks wihtout any response. When I call up to follow up with my complaint , the center staff could not track the record of my case. I am still patiently waiting for a response from them before going to CASE. I am never a fan of Sony Ericsson but thought that they have finally come out with a winner in the P990i , guess I was wrong. On the contrary , some of my colleagues have bought the Dopod 838 Pro and has given a very good review of this product.

  8. Jst wonder the Dopod 838Pro can switch from english languages to chinese languages like what Nokia basic model does.
    The reason is that I do ocassionally send chinese sms to overseas colleague by switch over. Otherwise, I remain on the english language most of the time.

    • Henry, saw your posting more than one year ago regarding Chinese for P990i. I am wondering if you have found a reasonable solution to your problem (I am having the same issue).

      After searching for a while, I am ready to give up, and wave “bye” to my beloved P990i.

      Thanks

      John

  9. Am using Dopod 838pro myself. Was a hardcore palm OS user previously. Used SE P900 a few years ago. Here are my some thought for your reference,

    P900 series is pretty good from my previous experience. Symbian OS is stable and operation very intuitive. Not sure about the new Symbian OS though. But I guess it would only gets better. P900 has a much bigger screen and the P990 has a stupid keyboard that took up part of the valuable screen space. Screen space is very valuable and I think P990 made a wrong move here by putting the keyboard in the front. The keys are also to small to be of good use. I love SE inplementation of the jog dial but 838pro also has it now. The quality of 838pro is also very good. Go try out the set and u will think so too. The sliding keyboard is superb. large and very usable. Make text typing a breeze. If u hate graffiti on symbian or wm5, go for 838pro. If you scribble alot, look for other dopod model which are much slimmer.

    My only complain is still the wm5 os. Just like the lousy windows we had been using on our PC, it promises to do alot of thing but did not do any of them very well. I find the OS a tat bit buggy. I had totally lost count of the number of time I need to soft-reset my 838pro for reason like hanging screen or applications. I even have a few occassion that the signal light seems to be on but I could not activate the screen and calls cannot come in. WM5 for a pda seems to be less buggy but on a phone is not too good. Only consolation is that a soft-reset will solve all prob and the software support is also very good. 838pro also has all connectivity standards including the new hsdcp (3.5G)

    Although, my 838pro is not perfect, i think it is the best piece of equipment you can find now minus the lousy os.

  10. 838pro is juz the perfect tool for me, PDA to read docs, for work and personal uses, to access the internet and last of all, to talk using bluetooth while taking down notes using the keyboard!

    Wonderful!! I can’t live without it!

  11. “Jst wonder the Dopod 838Pro can switch from english languages to chinese languages like what Nokia basic model does.
    The reason is that I do ocassionally send chinese sms to overseas colleague by switch over. Otherwise, I remain on the english language most of the time.”

    This gadget has no problem switching from English to Chinese language. Just a click away!!

    • I’m using the Dopod 838Pro, I also want to know how to switch from English to Chinese so that I could view and input Chinese characters. Do I need to download a software to do that?

  12. I was also trying to decide between the 2 models but got myself a P990i in the end (price dropped considerably) because the speakers/sound quality seems much better. No regrets so far. I believe with the latest firmware R5A17, it’ll solve most problems people have. My emails (all 3 emails) to SE’s customer service was replied very promptly by a friendly personnel by the name of Lionel Leow – he also mentioned that Singapore’s Chinese/English version will get the update through SEUS soon, so I’ll wait patiently for it. Reading through a few forums, some tips to avoid the out of memory is to make sure you end all the task in the Task Manager (if you don’t have Swiss Manager installed). Also, make sure you go through all the ‘Demo Tour’, Setup Wizard or anything else that has an automated guide. My phone crashed only once and after I went through all that, it’s running without a crash/hang. Do give it a try before listening to all the complaints – with the current low price, it’s definitely a value buy. I have confidence in SE’s products and their after sales support.

    • If you need 3G, you can never go wrong with the Dopod 838 as prices are real low now with the HTC Tytn II out now.

      The SE990i is way much dirt cheaper now, so price is its only selling point as most shop are trying to clear theirs, stock, based on feedback I’ve got from users, its not a very well built phone.

      The XDA Zinc is the newest of the 3 you’ve listed, I will only recommend you to it if you prefer the convenient headphone jack and almost everything of the Dopod 838 except without 3G. The Zinc is also slimmer, lighter and much cheaper now, but not as low as the P990i.

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