I first came across the Tel.Me T910 in an advert in a national daily and thought I liked the looks, so I ran a search on Google and came up with the official web site for Tel.Me (Tel.Me Telecom & Media Products GmbH), an Austria-based company started by Manfred Jahn, a former Ericsson employee. I was able to access detailed info about the phone from their site, as well as download a copy of the user manual from which I did the little research that got me hooked. It’s a phone with some neat up-to-date features. I was able to lay my hands on a copy soon after and here I present you this review.
The phone is very light (at 80g only) and fits nicely in your hand when you hold it. The design is business-like and classy. It looks delicate but is actually well built. There is no backlash of the case, and the rear cover fits firmly in place. However, once you open the cover, the battery ‘pops’ out. The battery slot is unusual, to say the least, so be careful when opening up the battery compartment.
The 128 x 126 pixel screen is definitely one of the largest among phones of this class. You can read up to 7 lines of SMS on the screen – and the text is bold and clear! I have never been able to stand phones with tiny screens because I do a lot of messaging – SMS, WAP, Email, Notes etc, so the T910 has me hooked here. The 4096-colour screen is another winner. Even in bright afternoon sunlight, visibility is good – whether the backlight is on or off. And when NEPA strikes, the T910’s white backlight is so strong I have been able to use it as torchlight for finding my way around in the dark. Note too, that the bright clear display drains a lot of battery power. If you use it much – like I did, be ready to charge your phone at least every other day.
You can set a picture to display as background in standby mode, as well as activate the screensaver function. An innovative twist is that the screensaver feature allows you to use one fixed picture or have the pictures change at intervals as a slide show. The phone comes with some pre-installed pictures and there is room for just one download. Again the colour screen does justice to the images. I have seen 4096-colour screens from other manufacturers, and some of them are nowhere this good. It isn’t excellent, but does a good job.
The keypad looks cool and gets the job done for the most part, but using the left (green) soft key is a little tacky (left-handed users will likely experience the same issue with the right soft-key). I am of the opinion that the function keys in the outer ring should have been raised just a little higher for better tactility. The inner 4-way directional keys perform excellently and did not pose any problems.
The alphanumeric buttons are laid out such that they are not spaced apart. They also feel quite delicate to touch. While I also hold the opinion that key size was sacrificed for the large display, the keys are large enough and perform fairly well. Again, I am of the view that the alphanumeric keys should have been raised a little higher for better tactility.
The manufacturers claim 3 hours talk time and about 5 days standby if the 720 mAh Lithium-ion batteries are charged according to instructions. With our epileptic power supply, I doubt if many people are able to charge their mobile phone batteries properly. Anyway, the phone runs an average of 3 days on a full charge.
The T910 has no infrared port, and I really miss that. The ability to transfer data between phone and laptop or other device without carrying cables around is one I have enjoyed. While I wish the Tel.Me designers had thrown in the infrared port, giving it USB data cable connectivity in place of the older and more common serial connections is a good choice.
The polyphonic ringtones are sharp and clear. There are a few classical ring types (all polyphony), but the majority of them are full musical pieces. My favourite is a tune from good old Sesame Street. There are some nice Christmas and classical pieces as well. There is room for you to compose one piece too.
Audio quality during calls is excellent. There is little or no distortion in the sound and you can hear the person at the other end cleanly. I have had problems along that line with phones other phones and I am glad it is not an issue here. After all, regardless of what else a phone can do, it should excel at its primary function. The Tel.Me shines brightly in this area. At maximum volume, a bystander can actually listen in on your conversation.
RF performance by the T910 is unimpressive. I live in an area of weak signal power on the network I use. Alongside several other phones I have tested, the T910 could not register on my network at my residence. On the other hand, some other phones I tested did register and hold on well to the same network’s signal at the same location. Anyway, if you live within the city proper where there is adequate network coverage, I doubt if you will have any problems with the T910’s RF performance.
If you are an SMS person, you may want to stay off this phone. While it performs excellently on the call front, it disappoints badly in the messaging area. If you type a message and save it, the phone does not allow you to resend it. An attempt to forward a received message yields a blank screen. If you do proceed out of curiousity, the recipient gets a blank message too. Also, you cannot send to a group; you have to manually send the message to each recipient. That put me off because I do a lot of group messaging. Then there are times when you want to access your messages and the phone tells you “Please Wait” before the messaging menu opens up. However, when sending a message, it does the sending promptly. You can also have the phone notify you when the message you sent is actually delivered to the recipient. That way, you do not have to wonder whether your message got to the other fellow or not.
One of the complaints I have is the implementation of T9 (predictive text input) on the phone. It works, but if you are used to the T9 system on Nokia phones, it will irritate you a little. But then, it could just be an issue of getting used to something different.
Tel.Me has also included two games – the classical Tetris and Reversi. I have played Reversi on my old trusty Accompli and I beat the phone several times. The problem I have with the version (in colour) on this phone is that I seem to be incapable of winning! On the other hand, I find Tetris a good relaxing game. You are not trying to beat anyone. While I love great action games, I am not quite bothered that there are none on this phone, simply because its features point it more at business users. The two embedded games will do just fine.
Tel.Me has included a monthly view calendar that lets you attach notes and appointments with or without an alarm. There are four different options available for you: Reminder; Phone; Meeting; and Birthday. You can also set an alarm (to go off once, or to be repeated daily).
The T910’s features include a calculator, world clock, currency converter, ringtone composer, vibrate alert, customizable profiles, composer, voice memo and voice dialling, and they all work fine. There is also a SIM Application Toolkit menu available, which allows your network operator to provide a wide range of value-added services to subscribers. You can also programme the phone to switch off and back on at set times daily (which helped me conserve battery power overnight).
Tel.Me T910 Review: Conclusion
In conclusion, the Tel.Me T910 is a good phone. It is a commendable effort, and I really do like the phone. But poor signal reception and a frustrating SMS menu are its weakest points. Unforgivable, for me.
Don’t buy it if what you are looking for is a fun mobile. But in terms of functionality, it has a good feature set. Great call and business features from a company that went into mobile phone production only about 3 years ago. However, it does NOT make the GosmartMobile Pick! list.
You might want to give the phone a try. In addition, Tel.Me actually has a service center in Nigeria – McDorsey, so that should mean good after-sales support.
Update: November 12, 2004
I ran the T910’s WAP browser on Glo’s GPRS service recently. Not a bad performance, but not exceptional either. The WAP menu was less than straightforward and so one tires fast using it.