Review: O2 XDA Flame

Review: O2 XDA Flame
Review: O2 XDA Flame

Over the past few decades, computers have literally penetrated our lives. It has become impossible to go anywhere without having some form of computer with you. It’s in our phones, watches, music players, video game systems, and even beginning to get into our clothes. While the first Windows based Pocket PC’s appeared on the scene a little over 10 years ago with a little bit of power and a monochrome screen, today we’re looking at a new phone from O2 called the XDA Flame.

The XDA Flame is another Pocket PC phone in the long line of models that O2 have produced. Differing from past models, the Flame is built by manufacturer Arima Communications and is O2’s first device built by this group.

The Flame has an impressive array of features including a 520MHz Intel XScale processor, 128MB of RAM, 2GB of use accessible memory, a 640x480 screen that measures 3.6" and an Nvidia GoForce 5500 chipset. There's also a 2.5mm headphone jack with some pretty decent in-ear canalphones so you can listen to your audio & phone calls through the 16-bit audio processing unit.

Already, that sounds like a brilliant beast of a Pocket PC. Couple that with a 3G phone and you're beginning to look at a seriously impressive device. So let's talk about where this seriously impressive device works well.

The screen is incredible. I've seen a lot of Pocket PC's in my life and the XDA Flame rates as one of the best Pocket PC screens ever. It’s incredibly sharp and gorgeous to look at. The 640x480 screen resolution in landscape (480x640 in portrait) is stunning and I expect that if you were to encode a DVD or watch videos on the go, you’d have no problems. You could even send out to a TV with the included TV-Out cable.

Wireless is included in the unit with both standard formats 802.11 b and g supported. Upgrades through the form of SDIO are there as well as the 2mp camera on the back and the 352x288 camera on the front in case you're in the mood for video calls or small self portraits.

One of the coolest things about the Flame is the inclusion of the Nvidia GoForce 5500. Having a capable 3d processor in a Pocket PC is quite cool… except there isn’t a whole lot that can take advantage of it. When there is, you will have one of the coolest pocket computers around but until then, keep playing the included game Siege: Catapult Assault.

Ultimately however, the software is one flaw in the Flame’s impressive feature set… and for once I’m not talking about Windows.

The XDA Flame comes with what you might see as some cool software. There’s the 3D game, an enhanced media player, and your usual array of in-built utilities & office applications to help you throughout your daily life. Where it all goes wrong, however, is with the WiFi software.

Normally in a Pocket PC, the wireless management software would let you see vital information like your MAC address so you can connect to a secure wireless network. The O2 software just doesn’t want to show you it in an easy to find place. It took me far longer than I actually wanted to spend finding it and when I did and was able to actually connect it to my wireless network, the software worked fine.

Or so I thought.

For the next day I was apparently connected to my GSM phone provider, but no one could call me nor could I call out. The phone was telling me I was connected and nothing was wrong but that didn’t seem to be the case. Eventually, after a day of trying to figure out why finding the MAC address was so hard to find and why finding it tripped a problem that stopped me from being able to use the phone as a phone, I decided to do a hard reset to clear it of any problems. This worked fine, as expected, but told me there are a few bugs and O2’s software that probably need to be worked out to make this machine better.

The remaining issues in the Flame come from what it doesn’t have and probably should.

Let’s get one thing straight about this Pocket PC phone: it means business. You get a great quality screen, a lot of memory, and short of some software glitches, a very impressive device overall. But it could be better.

For a device with a Recommended Retail Price of $1499, you don’t get GPS, HSDPA, or a decent battery life. If you can live without these features then go to a store and put it in your hand because the size and weight of this thing are its remaining issues.

It’s big. Really big. To say it’s like holding a taco to your head would be cruel and not really accurate (especially since that comment is reserved for the Nokia N-Gage) but it’s probably not far off. It didn’t fit comfortable in my hands and looked even chunkier sitting in my pockets.

Still, if you’re looking for what could be seen as a multimedia powerhouse in a pocket computer and you want the phone features as a bonus rather than something for primary use, you might set your eyes on O2 XDA Flame.


  • Great screen
  • 2GB of memory is really useful
  • Nvidia GoForce 5500 could be cool when games & applications start to take advantage of it


  • Software needs work
  • Lacks GPS & HSDPA
  • Size could be an issue
  • Battery life could be improved

Product: O2 XDA Flame

Vendor: O2

RRP: $1499

Website: O2 XDA Flame

Reviewed by Leigh D. Stark

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