The smaller a company is, the harder it can be for it to make attractive, high-end products. Shrugging off its growing pains, MWg has pulled off a good-looking smart phone with the Zinc II. Similar in size and weight to the HTC TyTN II, the Zinc II is a touchscreen phone with a slide-out keypad, available for around £450 SIM-free.
From the moment you take it out of the box, it feels like you're holding a quality product. There's a rubbery finish to the casing and a glossy front section with a flat slide-out keypad underneath that looks very cool.
The keypad isn't the easiest we've ever used, unfortunately. Each key makes an attempt at uniqueness with a very subtly raised edge, but the overall flatness of the keypad makes it tough to easily distinguish between each one. We got used to it after a while but we prefer the TyTN II's keypad.
Whenever we got too frustrated with the keypad, we fell back on using the Zinc II's touchscreen. MWg has implemented an HTC TouchFLO-style menu for fast finger-friendly
access to certain apps but you will need to use the stylus to type comfortably. Also, because the Zinc II runs on Windows Mobile 6.1, don't expect to use your fingers when it comes to texting.
If you're a seasoned Windows Mobile user, you might not find the Zinc II that big, but it's not exactly a small device compared to something like the Sony Ericsson W890i. Steer clear if you're looking for something to slip into a tight pair of jeans.
It may be big but it comes packed with features. The Zinc II boasts HSDPA and Wi-Fi, so you can stay connected almost everywhere. We downloaded Opera Mini on to it and surfed the Web in the park and office with ease.
Built-in GPS means that you can also use the Zinc II as a sat-nav system, but we did find it took some time before picking up the satellites. Signal strength will depend on where you are, of course, so don't expect an instant sat-nav.
The Zinc II's star feature should be the ability to write long emails and create and edit Microsoft documents using its full Qwerty keypad, but the pad lets it down. We'd like to say that writing long emails was great, but because of the pad's design, we actually found it fiddly.
What redeems the keypad to some extent, though, is a fast processor that enables a relatively quick user experience. A little more RAM would have been nice over the 64MB SDRAM that you get, but it's sufficient.
A better camera would have been nice too. The Zinc II's 2-megapixel snapper is fine for MMS and small prints, but it's not fantastic for large prints or viewing on a hi-res screen. The lack of flash means pics in low light don't come out well either.
Battery life lasted for over a day with moderate to heavy use. As expected, prolonged use of GPS, HSDPA or Wi-Fi drained the battery very quickly. If you're planning on using it as an in-car sat-nav, then it's definitely worth getting a compatible car charger.
The MWg Zinc II is a stylish phone that packs a lot of features, but we think the keypad lets it down. It also seems rather dated compared to the current cutting edge Windows Mobile phones such as the HTC Touch Diamond.
That said, this is a small company that has only just started producing its own kit, so while the Zinc II isn't perfect, it's definitely a good place to start. But pushed to make a choice between this and the TyTN II, we'd go with the feature-packed TyTN II.
Edited by Jon Squire