About two weeks ago, Jonathan Wells loaned me an i-mate -- one of the Windows Mobile-powered smartphones on the market. My previous phone -- a Motorola flip-phone smart phone -- had seen better days. It wasn't that good as a phone -- the radio seemed pretty weak relative to my other Motorola phone, but it was incredibly handy to be able to do over-the-air synchronization of all my Exchange mail, contacts, and calendar items.

The new i-mate is awesome. First and foremost, it's a really solid phone -- clear microphone and speaker, great speakerphone, tri-mode GSM, GPRS, Bluetooth, and a pretty good little camera. Battery life is good -- I've been able to get over 3 hours talk time and 100 hours stand-by time with it. It's small and light. And the keyboard is easy to use -- especially the incredible T9 implementation they have.

And as a smartphone, it's incredible as well. It runs all my old smartphone apps, including the Seattle traffic monitor app, much more quickly than the Motorola, it synchronizes data faster, and the UI is much more responsive.

The camera (which does still, movie, and audio) is good, albeit not great, but I didn't expect much from a VGA F3.8mm camera.

Although not availble in the US right now, I'd recommend this to anyone wanting a powerful phone.