Here’s one more of those companies that just appeared out of thin air and has released a slew of Java based DUAL SIM handsets. It’s become an epidemic and getting harder to keep track of the numerous companies entering the fray. With this their, 588, BlackBerry styled device, g-Fone has launched what they believe to be an easy to use communication tool for the masses. Here’s what I think.

Form Factor
I’m not sure if RIM is sitting back and basking in some sort of inane glory as these companies simply pick their way into the Blackberry design forms and try very hard to duplicate the UI. Is RIM flattered or just not inclined to do anything about it as they consider them to be no threat? The 588 is a generic clone of any BlackBerry QWERTY device. The keypad is large and well spaced with big buttons that facilitate easy typing. However, it’s a double tap system so if you have to type the word ‘Bee’ you get this – ‘B2’. You have to wait for a second for the cursor to move to the next space. Thankfully that happens quickly and isn’t too much of a bother, you’ll just have to be a little patient. On the whole it’s a very comfortable keypad to use.

The 2.4-inch display is similar to Micromax’s Q3 and although large, the viewing angle is skewed. It’s a little hard to view in direct sunlight and indoors you’ll have to tilt the handset a bit to see it clearly without the added 3D-ish effect. On one side are a set of volume/zoom keys and on the other is 2.5mm handsfree port just above a proprietary all in one slot. The bundled handsfree comes with a connector that fits into this port which obviously renders the 2.5mm socket completely redundant. A dedicated camera key is also present on the same side.

Features and Performance

The Java UI is not different than any of the other handsets running it. It’s quite smooth with no lag. The UI resembles Blackberry’s own but this is become quite common place. Icons for various settings have been placed evenly merely to occupy the whole screen and no other reason. Don’t mistake the icons to mean what they do in a BlackBerry though, they aren’t the same here. For instance the Compass icon in a BlackBerry signifies the location based services and Maps, in the 588 it’s for the Stopwatch. It’s ridiculous that they haven’t even bothered to take the time to organize it properly and think it through. Most options like the stopwatch, World clock, Calendar that have their own icon in the menu are repeated in sub menus. The desktop shortcuts can’t be alerted, what you see is what you get. You can’t add or remove or replace any shortcuts not that you’ll really need to.

What’s really interesting is that the handset is designed to work with both GSM and CDMA SIMs. You can use either two GSM SIM cards to swap one of them for a CDMA which will make this the perfect handset for the Indian market as quite a few mobile users usually have GSM and CDMA devices. The UI and options provided for using the SIMs individually are very manageable.

The 588’s music player is great. The audio quality is clear with very distinguishable tones. The EQ presets help of course but for more personalized experience you’ll have to go all the way back to the Sound Effects settings and there you can adjust the presets using an 8 band graphic EQ. The FM radio picked up most of the channels quickly and the reception was fairly decent throughout. It also has a recording function with a schedule option. Standard 320 x 240 resolution 3GP or MPEG4 files framed during playback but lower resolution test files had no issues except the quality was obviously really low. Dodge ball and Chess are two games which have been preloaded.

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